This article has been written by Andrew from LendEDU – a consumer education website and personal finance resource.

Though running your own business can leave you on the receiving end of numerous perks and benefits, it also comes with many challenges. There are numerous operational concerns that creep up over time, including cash flow concerns, customer service issues, and employee management. However, for many business owners, there’s another, often more pressing and enduring concern – branding.

Small Business Can Invest in Its Brand

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Businesses that take the initiative to undergo consistent, creative, and on-going brand development are most frequently the ones that capture their target audience, gain a loyal customer base, and reap the benefits of a healthy bottom line.

Why Should a Small Business Invest in Its Brand?

Today’s economy has spurred a level of competition not previously seen. There are over 30 million small businesses in the United States alone, and though not all specialize in the same product or service, there is undoubtedly considerably overlap – just think of the last time you went to purchase a bottle of shampoo, a bag of coffee, or even a bottle of water. The options, at times, are overwhelming.

Decisions about which product or service to choose often comes down to one simple thing – brand recognition. In fact, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), a full 83 percent of adults reported that they were loyal to product brands. That’s just one reason why branding is important.

Proper branding makes your business synonymous with a certain mindset. For instance, healthy consumables are synonymous with Whole Foods. Sleek and reliable computers and phones are associated with Apple, and rugged, reliable family transportation options are provided by Subaru.

How to Go About Brand Building

So how can you increase brand awareness and win over your share of consumer loyalties? Though there are several ways to do so, here are a few to keep in mind:

  • Leverage social media: Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat all provide a direct line to a specific consumer group. For example, if you run a B2B, you’ll likely want to focus your efforts on LinkedIn. On the other hand, if you’re a B2C with a young demographic, you may find a creative and unique social promotional strategy on SnapChat or Instagram is more effective. All of this can be done online.
  • Consider Giving: Charitable efforts help a brand share its mission and values in a very real and tangible way. By donating or supporting a cause that aligns with your brand beliefs, you can gain the loyalty of consumers who share that sentiment, particularly the 64 percent of consumers are belief-driven buyers.
  • Customer Appreciation Events: You rely on your customers or clients to keep business going, and they know it. However, they also want to know that you recognize their role in your success. Customer appreciation events, like VIP discounts and promos, parties, or even swag can help show your gratitude and expand loyalty.
  • Encourage & Respond to Customer Review: Sixty-three percent of consumers check online Google reviews before they make a purchase. Encouraging customer to leave reviews can help your brand stand out. What about bad reviews, you ask? Responding to them shows concern and can actually help bolster your brand.

The Challenges of Building a Brand & How to Overcome Them

As important as it is, branding can be challenging. This is particularly true in an economy where consumers have access to products and services from around the world. The following represents a few of the top challenges and can overcome them.

Competing with Established Brands

Solution: If you’re trying to break through to consumers who are already engaged with prominent brands, the answer is often to highlight what’s unique about your business. Are your products locally made, handcrafted, or support community initiatives? Do you support a specific cause or charity? Does your product or service offer a new solution to an old problem?

Focusing on and promoting the answers to those questions can help you break into the market space.

Inconsistent or Confusing Messaging

Solution: In order to grow your brand, you need to have a concise and cohesive message across all marketing channels. Failure to do so will not only result in the loss of time and money but it can confuse and alienate consumers. Before you begin your efforts, take time to define your brand’s story, including your mission, values, and target audience.

Budgeting & Cost Concerns

Solution: Growing your brand often means increasing marketing spend, and even though it typically pays off, you’ll likely need working capital to begin your efforts. Today, there are numerous ways to access funding, including short-term loans, business lines of credit, and business credit cards. In addition, some small businesses owners may be able to entice the support of venture capitalists who share a common goal or interest.

Your brand is the story that bridges the gap between your business and your customers. Strong and consistent branding efforts can win your business consumer loyalty and ongoing revenue growth. And while it may be difficult to make your place in today’s competitive market, with a little initiative, creativity, and capital success is often well within reach.