In 2018, successful businesses need to be so much more than just the products or services they sell. Look at successful organizations such as Airbnb, McDonalds or Nike; their product is just a small part of what they offer. Nowadays it’s more about the overall customer experience. This experience is often shaped by perfectly-executed branding strategies.

To most people, branding is something that’s associated with global companies that boast huge marketing budgets. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Every single piece of content that you push out has an impact on how customers see your brand, whether you know it or not.

Here are some of the top branding tips for small businesses.

A Good Logo

What’s the most memorable aspect of any global brand? In most cases, it’s the logo. As soon as you see that big yellow ‘M’, who do you think of? This kind of subconscious association with your brand is something that every business should be striving for.

Designing a simple-but-eye-catching logo that offers a good representation of your brand is usually the best way to go. It’s also important to have a memorable brand name and slogan. These things will appear across your website, social networks, products, advertising campaigns and pretty much anything else that is associated with your brand.

Company Principles

You won’t be surprised to hear that the vast majority of successful brands don’t just achieve success by chance. Most brands have a set of core principles that are followed throughout every business process. Whilst it may seem like a lot of unnecessary work, having a set of core principles and brand guidelines in the books for your company is a great foundation.

Amazon is famous for its 14 Leadership Principles, from ‘Customer Obsession ’ to ‘Hire And Develop The Best ’. These principles are instilled into their employees at every possible opportunity, which admittedly hasn’t always worked in Amazon’s favor. But the overall concept of having a set of core values to follow can be a great way to ensure everyone within your organization is on the same page. Follow these values with everything you do; employees and customers alike will start to associate your brand with these values.

Create An Environment Of Trust

One of the most important things that brands can offer today is trust. Especially if it involves any form of online transaction.

With all the recent bad press surrounding online security, including a seemingly endless stream of hacks and data leaks, it’s more important than ever to encourage a sense of security.

You can do this by promoting signs of trust; for example, implementing an SSL certificate on your website. Other ways to create an environment of trust includes being open with your customers, implementing a professional website design that truly reflects your brand, and sharing high-quality content to help educate your followers.

A Solid Social Media Strategy

For a lot of brands, social media is one of the places that offer the most opportunity to interact with customers. With an ever-expanding catalog of social media channels to choose from, each with their own niches, there’s plenty to go at.

I’d recommend starting with just a few social media channels, aiming to post at least once a day on each channel. Once you’ve mastered this, it’s time to start exploring some of the other social channels and spreading your brand’s message further afield. Get your social media strategy right and this could soon be your main tool for influencing the direction of your brand.

Consistent Messaging

Using different messaging on different channels will only serve to confuse customers. Of course, you may need to iterate your message in a slightly different way on LinkedIn than on Twitter, but the basic messaging should remain the same.

Be careful not to bore your customers though; it’s easy to just write one message and share it across all of your social platforms. One way to avoid this is by using a social media scheduling tool such as Buffer to schedule your posts, adjusting the wording ever so slightly for each platform.

You could even use different creatives for each platform to further encourage this, as long as the overall message remains the same. If you stick to your main company principles, this should be fairly easy to follow anyway.

Other quick tips include developing brand assets for use on social media and other online marketing activities, meeting with your team regularly to review the direction of your brand, and using color psychology to your advantage.

The power of a strong brand really shouldn’t be underestimated. If you need proof of this, take a look at how these start-ups used powerful branding strategies to get a leg-up over their corporate competitors.

Do you have any other branding tips for small businesses? Why not share them in the comments below?

About the Author: Lee Fuller is an enterprise level marketer that operates as the CEO of Leeds-based digital agency, Flaunt Digital. He’s worked with a range of global clients including The New York Times.