My opening to the group of entrepreneurs I spoke to earlier this week was “You must build a brand. The success of your business depends on it.” During the talk, sponsored by Selph Marketing, I shared how-to advice on a number of topics I’ve seen hold small businesses back, and needlessly so. Chief among those topics was branding, an areas I’ve come to see as neglected at most small businesses.

Establish a memorable brand identity

Branding is too important to leave to chance for small businesses, I said, while detailing six remedies for other challenges small businesses face, including the following:

  • The importance of building a brand,
  • The necessity of growing & fostering an audience,
  • The importance of reviews & how to attain them,
  • How a unique value proposition sets you apart (and how to create one),
  • How to set effective goals—and how increased revenue must be high on that list,
  • The benefits or testimonials, and where to place them on your site, and
  • How to leverage partnerships for marketing

I’m continually amazed at how small brands totally disregard the need to build a brand around their products or services. They too often think that’s something only big businesses do. A recent conversation helps make the point.

The importance of developing a brand identity

The owner of a small business making handmade items was proud to offer a product that looked like a premium product but without the premium price. When I asked about her typical customer, she said they are folks who eschew well-known premium brands and prefer handmade items from a local business. Because the items had no discernible logo or markings and she was adamant about not branding the items, I made her aware that logos and insignias play small roles in branding, but they are not branding by themselves.

I asked what was to prevent someone from knocking off her product, since it was intentionally generic. Additionally, I wondered if she was OK with the potential loss of referrals from buyers who, after purchase, were less likely to promote the item since there was no story or meaning behind the products, which is important for even those of us who are not brand-centric.

After all, even folks turned off by the ostentatious logos of premium designer brands will likely still want friends and family members to ask about the items.

Silence. I could tell that she was questioning her decision to abstain from building a brand, which, as I explained to her, was quite different from how she thought of branding.

Craft a unique brand presence

Building a brand is important for all businesses, but critically so for small businesses, most of whom lack the budget and/or the visibility to differentiate themselves from their competitors, who are often overrepresented in the narrow markets small businesses occupy.

With a strong, compelling brand, you’re better positioned to stand out from the competition. Additionally, you can more easily foster loyalty and create an emotional bond with customers, which, in turn, creates a preference for your offerings and enables you to charge a premium for your products.

She said: “Oh! I never thought of that.”