If you have a small business, you’re definitely not alone. Small businesses make up the majority of all business in the United States. And in Massachusetts, especially, small businesses are growing at an even faster rate than the national average, with almost ten thousand small businesses operating, according to the most recent statistics from the Small Business Association.
With all that competition, how do you keep your business in the limelight?
One of the key factors is effective branding.
Branding is important for every business, regardless of the size. Not only that, but it can help to actually change the size of your business, helping you to grow beyond your initial goals and keep reaching forward.
But branding isn’t a static thing. It needs to grow and change along with your business itself.
Here are five effective branding strategies to consider for your own small business this year.
Viral Video Marketing
This may seem like a tall order. After all, there’s no 100% surefire guarantee that video content will actually go viral. Sometimes it seems completely random, like a lightning strike.
But the fact is that you need video content in order to even have a chance at going viral. And another fact is that video content is in high demand; statistics say that up to 54% of consumers want to see more video content from brands that they already support.
“Create more video” may not seem like a marketing strategy on the face of it. But if your company isn’t outputting any video at all, releasing video content could have a big impact on how your brand is perceived.
Not only is video one of the best ways to get, and keep, the attention of the customer, it also lends itself to being talked about and shared with others.
So interesting, well-produced, useful, entertaining, and funny video content can easily put a new “face” on your brand.
You don’t have to be an expert with video editing in order to make effective videos, either. Whether you want a polished look or a quaint, hand-made feel, it’s more about the accessibility and entertainment value of the content than the actual production.
A hot current trend with branding is the minimalist approach. It’s pretty common for a brand to plaster their logo at every available opportunity. And it’s good for your viewers to know who you are.
But a minimalist approach to branding is more about letting your content and your products speak for themselves.
Rather than relying on your logo only or your company name, pick a feature of your brand: a color or color combination, typeface, graphic style, or even a shape or silhouette, to be the representative of your brand.
This approach may take some time to build up to true effectiveness in terms of brand recognition, but in the long run it can do a lot to direct attention to what you actually do, rather than just your shiny logo. And that direction communicates effectively what the benefit is to your customer.
Google is a great example of rotating design, with their logo that cycles through new designs throughout the weeks.
Each different logo, though, is still readily identifiable as the Google logo. And here’s the challenge with a rotating design branding strategy: each piece of design still has to “fit” with your brand.
You don’t need to rotate every aspect of your brand, but cycling through different logo designs and color combinations can keep things fresh.
When done well, rotating design can capture and keep the attention of your customers, leading to a deeper investment and engagement.
It also gives your brand a playfulness and personality that can be really useful in terms of making personal connections with consumers.
Customer Created Content
These last two branding strategies are some of the most effective ways to up your brand game.
Customer-created content heightens the amount of engagement from the customer, simply because they are contributing to the brand with their own actions and words.
Marketing campaigns are often built around customer-created content. Even something as simple as asking to be hashtagged on Instagram, or offering a prize for the most creative selfie with one of your products, can stimulate engagement.
Inviting experiences and open conversation give your brand accessibility, which is always a great contributor to a reputation as a customer service oriented business. This is especially effective in a smaller community, where your neighbors and friends are often your customers.
Employee Generated Content
Along the same lines, employee generated content is a great way to heighten your brand’s accessibility. When your employee says something good about your company, it means more than if you, as the owner, are tooting your own horn.
Employee engagement can greatly affect customer engagement.
Allow your employees the chance to create content for your website or your social media. Let them tell their own stories and experiences. Do Q and A sessions with your employee of the month.
Let your employees be real people to your customers, and your brand will become real along with it.
Effective Branding: An Ongoing Process
It may take more than one of these branding strategies to really make your small business all that it can be. It may take more than all of them together!
The more time and effort you are willing to put into your branding, the more successful it will be.
The great thing about these strategies is that it puts personality into your brand. And that’s really what a brand is all about: what your company would look like, sound like, be like, if it were a real person.
Companies, just like people, can’t afford to be static. We always have to keep growing and changing in order to stay alive. The strategies outlined here are designed to help your own small business thrive.
Brianna Jensen is a content specialist who curates, writes and promotes content for online businesses. Connect with her to discover a world of content types, fit for your organizational needs.