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Small Business Branding 101: What Goes into Building a Brand?

Every small business owner should know the basics of branding.

A logo, a catchphrase or a nickname is sometimes all it takes to recognize the world's top brands. Mickey D's. Just do it. The Apple logo. A quick impression, and you immediately understand and recognize the brand behind it. That’s the power of branding, and it’s something to think about if you want to grow your small business.


Branding can help your small business stand out from local competitors, who are vying for the same customers as you. According to Marketing Dive, 63% of surveyed global consumers prefer to purchase from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, and Small Business Trends reported 83% of Millennials stress the importance of value alignment from companies.


You don't need a million-dollar marketing budget to establish a strong brand. Here are some branding elements you can focus on to shape your brand identity and drive consumer perception, recognition and loyalty.


Create a strong mission statement

A strong mission statement is typically one to a few sentences that concisely explains why your business exists. A mission statement unites the work of your employees, guides your marketing efforts and clearly tells customers what your brand is about. The mission statement doesn’t have to be very long, but it should be impactful and immediately clear. Consider a few examples:


  • TED – “Spread ideas.”
  • TOMS Shoes – “Improving lives. One for one.”
  • Zappos – “Provide the best customer service possible.”


These mission statements of some of the world's most recognizable brands help drive every action of every employee, every product launch and every new development in the business. Before you move on to other elements of brand building, make sure you have a strong and impactful mission statement in place. That way, you can be sure every branding-related decision is made with your company’s aims and values in mind.


Identify your brand values

Branching off from the mission statement are brand values. Brand values are descriptors that propel the mission of your brand forward. Some examples are:


  • Innovation
  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Courage
  • Eco-friendliness
  • Honesty
  • Responsiveness


Brand values explain what is important to your business, and what customers can expect. Brand values drive the company culture, from how employees interact with each other to how they treat your customers. They set the tone for your business, and should inform the look and feel of your branding efforts (e.g., the words and images you use to promote your business).


Pinpoint your brand positioning

Positioning is an element of branding that determines how your business sets itself apart from the competition. The goal is for customers to perceive your brand in a specific way, which makes it easier to recognize, understand and trust. For effective brand positioning, The Branding Journal recommends:


  • Identifying what customers want
  • Understanding the solution your business provides for those pain points
  • Understanding how your competitors position their brands
  • Presenting your solution in a unique and memorable way


Even if you have a similar mission statement and values as a competitor, the way you present your solution can (and should) be totally different and resonate on a unique level.


Develop a brand personality

Your customers have unique personalities—your brand should, too.


A brand personality is applying human characteristics to brand actions. Research by global consultancy firm Kantar Group found brand personality enables a brand to strengthen its competitive positioning and relate to its target customer base. Your brand's mission and values can help inform your personality, which should relate to the actual personalities of your real-life customers.


Buyer personas improve your understanding of your target customers. Buyer personas are detailed profiles of each of the core segments your brand targets, including demographic data, pain points, goals, sources of information and personality traits. A study by customer intelligence platform Cintell found 65% of companies that updated their buyers personas in the past six months outperformed competitors in revenue and sales goals. Recognizing the needs, demographics and typical actions of your target customers will help you shape your branding personality, too.


Maintain your voice and look

The words and images you use to promote your business convey the brand you want to promote. Strong branding is evident in marketing elements like:


  • Logo
  • Website design
  • Website copy and imagery
  • Content marketing
  • Social media posts
  • Advertising
  • Commercials and videos


The copy and images that support your branding should match your brand personality and differentiate your brand in the space. Any marketing elements you use should have a strong point of view that represents your brand. Seemingly minor details like words and photos come together to paint an important picture of your brand, one that represents its mission, values and personality.


Resources to help you get started

There’s a lot more to branding than we could cover here. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of information available online (for free) that can help you learn the ins and outs of building a small business brand. Here are some resources to get you started:



Financial services for growing brands

Cadence Bank offers business banking tools and solutions to keep your business financially healthy as you continue to grow. We’re here every step of the way, supporting your business (and your brand) with expert financial knowledge and services. Contact us today to learn how we can help.



This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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