11th Feb 2020 in Business

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that branding is something that’s only for the bigger players, and they couldn’t be more wrong.

For over ten years, Steve Neill from The Foundation has helped small and medium-sized businesses tell their brand stories and communicate with their key audiences. He believes in using design to support strategic business growth and to build enduring relationships between businesses and their customers.

At a recent Cathedral Quarter BID Lunchtime Learning event, Steve delivered a workshop on brand and design for SMEs, here are the key takeaways:

“Lots of businesses make the mistake of creating pretty pictures for pretty picture’s sake – your brand has commercial value, so what you do with it should have commercial purpose” said Steve.

“In years gone by, advertisers believed you had seven seconds to grab your audience’s attention, today we believe it is closer to three seconds. Therefore, you need to share your message succinctly, ensure your branding is distinctive, and tell your story in an engaging way.”

Your brand isn’t just your logo, or your slogan, or even your font and colour scheme. Your brand is what your customers and potential customers say and think about you. This is your brand identity.

Your logo, and slogan, and font and colour scheme are building blocks that help to make your brand identifiable, and which can visually represent your brand by triggering in customers and potential customers associated thoughts and feelings.

Steve explained: “The truth is – you have a brand whether you create it or not. All your interactions and communications feed into this story of who you are. If you aren’t intentional about it, it can become messy and unruly. Take control of your brand story and ensure consistency.”

Still not convinced? Here are 5 reasons why your brand matters:

  1. Strong branding creates trust through maintaining a high level of professionalism.
  2. Strong branding improves recognition. This can be boosted with a unique logo, even better if your logo tells a story. Don’t follow trends, go with what’s true for your brand.
  3. Your branding will help your marketing. You can create specific messages for target audiences that are on-brand.
  4. Branding helps you to attract the “right” talent that are a good fit for your organisation. It’s not news that today we have an employee-led market with the lowest unemployment rate on record. Getting the right people into our businesses is crucial and our branding can help to attract top talent, as well as the right talent.
  5. Branding helps to generate new revenue and business growth. Being recognisable and representing high quality helps your bottom line.

A final word from Steve: “Ideally, invest in brand-building early on. Determine your “what”, “how” and “why” – what do you do well, how do you do it, and why do you do it? Use this to create your business’ vision and mission. Identify your key values, also sometimes called your brand values. What are the three or five key things that matter to your business?

“From here, it’s important to understand your market and your customers – what are their pain points? What problems do you solve, or what solutions do you provide? What matters to them? Finally, engage your audience and remember to respond to them – engage in conversation and dialogue – don’t just sell ‘at’ them.”

Want to hear even more top tips about branding for SMEs? Check out the full recording of Steve’s workshop here >> https://www.cathedralquarterbelfast.com/whats-on/lunchtime-learning-brand-design-for-smes-2

To find out what Lunchtime Learning sessions are coming up go to https://www.cathedralquarterbelfast.com/lunchtime-learning

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