Branding for small businesses may seem easy, but it’s actually one of the hardest things to do in marketing. Branding is more than just what people see on the outside — the logo design, product visual concept, advertising, and slogan or catchphrase.
Rather, branding has more to do with designing the story, the personality, and the attitude of the company, the staff, and of course, the products and services. What people see on the outside is only a reflection of the same story that is shared by everyone involved in making the products and services.
When you have a brilliant branding idea for a small business, and you’re already thinking of the logo design, pause for a second. You’re putting the horse before the wagon; you first need to follow these 5 essential branding tips and be sure that you don’t ignore them.
How did we brand our agency? Here’s is our brand identity
1. Don’t compromise your brand’s unique identity
There are many ways you can compromise your brand’s unique identity.
One of which is to try to please as many potential customers as possible. Unless you are a large corporate brand with a large market share, you should only focus on the markets that you intended to serve.
Take a look at brands that you think “serves everyone”, like Superindo. Do you think the premium prices on the store shelves would attract every market segment? They keep their brand’s strength by limiting their sale of low-end products.
So, embrace your brand’s inner snowflake. The ‘urban streetwear’ brand Damn! I Love Indonesia is not afraid to sell the feeling of patriotism in their fashion lines. Their designs are simple, youthful, and bold. It’s also hard to find other brands like it.
Trying to copy another brand is also a serious mistake. People may lose respect for your brand. Respect may not be something that is discussed often in branding, but it is one of the greatest factors of the strength of your brand identity.
2. Be approachable, and be simple
Customers are smart, but they are also prideful. This means, if they are confused about a product, they don’t want to be seen to have a lack of knowledge.
Most customers are wary of businesses that take advantage of their ignorance. One trick to becoming more attractive to them is to be more helpful and run them through a simple easy-to-follow procedure in order to learn and compare the products that you are selling.
For example, if your brand sells organic and healthy meal prep, don’t bombard them with jargon, even if it makes your brand seem knowledgeable. When communicating with customers, think of what they will think about your brand.
Burgreens is an excellent example. Their product names rarely contain extravagant words like ‘paleo diet’ and ‘gluten-free. They reserve these words only in the descriptions when the customer would want to learn more about it.
Easy-to-understand concepts like ‘weight loss, ‘immune-boosting, and ‘clean eating, are used instead, which helps the customer imagine the result of consuming their products.
3. Be consistent, down to the details
When people come across a new brand that they’ve never seen before, they make dozens of subconscious observations in their heads.
They are looking for what we marketers call “trust signals”. They do this by asking questions like, “Is this website legitimate? Is the logo in the website and the social media profile the same? If not, then which one is the copy-cat?” and so on.
This is because customers are smart — they are all wary of copy-cats, scammers, and posers. So, how to be consistent down to the details? One solution is to use a brand guideline.
A brand guideline is standard documentation that dictates how the brand will present itself visually on all forms and platforms. How will the logo appear in the dark mode? How will it appear on light or dark backgrounds? Is one part of the brand transparent? Does it use the same royalty-free typefaces or a completely rare one that requires a license?
Keeping the visual design standard is as important as keeping the product and services standard.
Avoid a messy brand! Have an expert opinion about your brand idea.
4. Create a brand story
You hear about “storytelling” whenever you read about branding. But what does it mean?
Well, your products are what solves a specific problem. The story, or the brand, is the why. You need to create some kind of narrative — even if it’s completely made-up — that makes your brand special.
Back in 2018, there was a boom in the coffee shop industry. This year in 2021, some of the most memorable and competing local coffee franchises are Kopi Kenangan, Janji Jiwa, Kopi Kulo, and Kopi Soe.
These coffee franchises certainly have different concepts and are unique brands altogether (remember Rule #1). Among them, however, one brand utilizes good storytelling, and that is Kopi Kenangan.
Take a look at their product names in their menu: Teh Susu Kenangan Terindah, Minuman Selingkuhan, Kopi Kenangan Mantan, etc. (Directly translated: Milk Tea of Beautiful Memories, Love Affair Drinks, Coffee to Remember Ex-Lovers)
These sad love stories are not part of the company’s history or the vision and mission. (Hopefully, the founder wasn’t inspired to make a coffee chain due to heartbreak, but we’ll just never know). That being said, your company history is not your brand’s story, so don’t use that.
The Kopi Kenangan brand is special because there’s a story. Perhaps the story goes that people who go there can drink coffee to their ex’s memory. Even if the story behind it is completely absurd, it’s still an absolutely fun narrative that makes the brand successful.
5. Use foreign branding where appropriate
Foreign branding is not a new concept. Wikipedia defines it as “the use of foreign or foreign-sounding brand names for companies, products, and services to imply they are of foreign origin.”
Some brands are successful at using this effectively, while other brands that use foreign-sounding names just appear pretentious. If you want to use foreign words or phrases to name your brand, you should consider how this will impact the way your customers will perceive your brand.
Some economic restaurants that serve low-end quality Asian cuisine (like ramen bowls and sushi) use Japanese or Mandarin names. But the perfect customers (who are looking for affordable and delicious food) may mistake them for high-end restaurants.
On the other hand, wealthier customers would be disappointed to find out that what they perceived as a higher-end restaurant serves the kind of dish that is below their expectations.
In other words, there is a mismatch between perception and reality.
Brands like Eiger and Wakai are local brands, but the former brand has a German-sounding name, while the latter sounds like a Japanese brand. They are two of the best examples of effective uses of foreign branding.
Eiger’s products are durable, long-lasting, and made for the outdoors. This level of quality, along with the German-sounding name, combines to create a perception that matches reality.
Like a German-engineered car that has superior quality, Eiger’s “adventure gears” are reliable companions for those who live an active lifestyle.
Wakai designs a one of a kind footwear style that looks like authentic Japanese indoor slippers. The footwear that they sell are used outdoors and are highly durable, like most well-designed Japanese products.
Apart from quality, Wakai also pays attention to aesthetics. Guess which country whose brands also pay close attention to aesthetics? That’s right, most Japanese brands do.
These five tips will help to remind you of some of the best branding practices to date. Be unique, be approachable, be consistent, create a brand story, and use foreign branding strategically. Remember, when in doubt, don’t make hasty branding decisions!
Don’t hesitate to contact a team of branding experts with years of experience collaborating with the most lovable brands in Indonesia and abroad. Contact our team at Grab Essentials for awesome branding ideas!