If you spend much time around children, you know that they can spot a pair of golden arches from five states away. Take a moment and consider how brilliant that is, at least from McDonald’s perspective. The minute you see their stylized M, you know exactly what business you’re looking at. That logo gives them instant brand recognition all over the world and drives any number of kids to beg for a Happy Meal.
Small businesses strive for the same kind of brand identity within their market. Brand recognition helps build a customer base. If you’re selling widgets, you want anyone in search of a widget to think of your company, not your competitor. Your brand is partially based on your reputation, the quality of your products and customer service, and partially based on recognizable physical features such as your logo. You want your potential customers to hear your name or see your logo and immediately think of your company’s product or service.
How does a small business achieve this kind of brand recognition? Here are three tips to help your business become the brand people think of in your market.
1. Stay consistent
Brand consistency means that your company’s message, logo and graphics are the same both online and offline. In order to be instantly recognizable and easy to recall, your brand needs to be seen over and over. If it changes from one medium to another, you lose the advantage of repetition.
Before you can be consistent, however, you need to know what your message is. What do you want potential customers to think about every time they see your business name or logo? Are you dependable? Exciting? Luxurious? Trendy? Sexy? Knowing what message you want to send will guide you in developing a brand awareness strategy.
Once you know your company’s message, you need to develop that message through the logo and graphics associated with your business. As a small business, you need to communicate what your company is about quickly and without confusion. If you’re a professional painting company, a paintbrush or paint can in your logo can quickly communicate that information.
At the same time, you need to make your logo stand apart from the logos of other professional painters. Color choice and graphic design can communicate your company’s message while differentiating it from other companies. If you’re trying to position yourself as environmentally friendly painters, the use of earth-related greens and browns can help convey that message. Including nature-related graphics in your logo, such as leaves, trees or flowers, will also help get your message across.
2. Be engaged
Potential customers come to trust your brand when they come to trust you. By engaging potential customers in dialogue and activities that get them involved with your business, you become personal to them. Personal is memorable. It creates an emotional connection. As long as the emotional connection is positive, it makes the potential customer more likely to become an actual customer.
One of the simplest ways to get customer involvement is to offer surveys and other chances to contribute feedback. Not only does this make the customer feel like you care, but it also gives you an insight into what your customers want and need from your business. If you offer surveys online, you also create a situation where customers are directed to your website, giving them another chance to engage with your company.
Social media is a popular way to connect with customers these days. With Facebook approaching a billion users, Twitter claiming 100 million users, LinkedIn serving 130 million and Google+ getting close to 400 million, social media provides a vast base of potential customers. It also provides a way for a business to make themselves memorable and personal by sharing with and responding to their customers. The key is to provide consistent activity so that you stay within your customers’ awareness.
Another area that provides a powerful engagement opportunity is your business’s local community. Whether you’re sponsoring a kids’ sports team or participating in a fundraiser for a school or other local organization, you have the chance to get your logo out in front of the community and to create a personal connection with potential customers.
3. Have a clearly defined image
As stated earlier, your logo is the image that communicates your company’s existence and message to potential customers. As such, it needs to be something that stands out and makes an impact, to leave an excellent first impression. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your logo:
• Make it clean and functional. Your logo will end up in many places over time. It may be on a business card, in a newspaper ad, on a banner sign and on an internet graphic. Each of these media has different requirements for size, coloring and design. Since you want your logo to be consistent across all media, you need to start with a logo that looks good no matter where it’s placed.
• Hire a professional. You want your graphic to look good and be useable under any circumstances. A professional graphic artist with experience making logos can guarantee that your company is presented in the best light.
• Pick your colors wisely. Not only do you want your colors to convey information about your business, but you also want them to translate across different media. In general, two to three colors are all you need to have an attractive, memorable logo that can be used anywhere.
• Trademark your logo. Once you have a logo that conveys your company’s message, get it trademarked to keep other companies from using it.
The key to a small business’s success is brand recognition and brand visibility that leads to brand loyalty. By engaging with your customers and creating a memorable logo that is easy for customers to recognize in any media, you can build the kind of customer base that keeps coming back for more.