Building a Strong Brand Identity for Your Local Business

Image of Scott Baradell
Scott Baradell
Published: Jan 26, 2024
Last Updated: Jan 30, 2024

When developing your brand identity, think of the brands you can easily identify with a logo or a specific color or shape. Apple. Nike. McDonald's. Google. Patagonia. Target. What do they all have in common? A strong brand identity.

Brand identity is the emotional and visual representation of your brand. It can include a number of elements, such as colors, logos, messaging, and typography, all weaving together to share your brand's promise, personality, and values. It's more than just your product. 

Why Does Brand Identity Matter?

Brand identity matters for many reasons:

  • Builds Credibility and Trust: Customers buy from companies they trust rather than those they have to gamble on.
  • Strengthens Brand Recognition: If you have strong brand identifiers, your company becomes more noticeable to customers "in the wild."
  • Guarantees a Strong First Impression: Think about how you feel when you see the Apple logo—you expect innovative, high-quality technology, just based on the logo alone. 
  • Attracts Employees: People want to work for companies that share their values. Your brand identity is a way to attract employees who share your ideals and goals.

One of the most valuable parts of brand identity is brand loyalty. Studies show that over 80% of customers want to trust a brand before they buy from it and they want to stay loyal to the brands they already use. They are also twice as likely to advocate for a brand they like. This means that you have one shot to earn customer trust, and if you handle it successfully, your customers can become one of your biggest advertising tools. 

7 Ways Local Businesses Can Build Strong Brand Identities

To help build a brand identity that customers are invested in, we've put together a few tips that work for local businesses.

1. Define Your Purpose

When building your brand identity, first draft a clear purpose statement. Your purpose statement should embody the "why" behind your business: Why did you create this product? What problem does your business solve and what benefits do you hope to offer customers? Why should customers be loyal to your brand? 

This is an area where small businesses can really shine, as you have more opportunities to connect with your customers in more personal and unique ways. As a local business, you stepped up to fill a need you saw in the community. Consider how that fact affects your purpose and how that encourages customers to support your product.

Once you've considered your company's "why," you can use it to create a clear business motto that is authentic to your brand. If possible, turn it into a tagline that's easy to display and remember. 

2. Know Your Market

Knowing your target market is a crucial part of success. If you are advertising to the wrong market, not only do you miss valuable sales opportunities, but you also create confusion and even distaste around your brand. Imagine you're watching a family movie with your young kids, and an ad comes on for a graphic product. The company not only hit the wrong market but, in doing so, created a bad experience for anyone watching. With that small mistake, the company loses credibility, trust, and loyalty.

Defining your target market means collecting details like:

  • Behavior Patterns: The need your product addresses, who is most likely to use your product, and the benefits that your product provides.
  • Psychographics: The beliefs, interests, lifestyles, and values of your target customers.
  • Demographics: The household composition, location, age, identity groups, and income of your target customers. 
  • Firmographics: The B2B equivalent of demographics, such as performance, location, size, and industry.

Local brick-and-mortar businesses have the advantage of observing and interacting with the target audience, while online businesses must rely more on data and purchasing patterns.

3. Analyze Your Competition

Once you understand your target market, you have the information needed to assess the biggest competitors in your sales space. Your company's competitors may be online marketplaces or brick-and-mortar stores. 

Once you've identified your competition, study their services and products, marketing strategies, and customer reviews. Watch for trends and patterns, weaknesses and strengths, and opportunities you can capitalize on. It's important that you find ways to separate your company from the competition. As a local, small business, you have an opportunity to stand out from larger corporate structures that may have forgotten how to connect with customers individually. Whether you're offering a more advanced product or exemplary services, you need to foster brand loyalty with your customers. 

4. Create a Memorable Brand Name

A brand name evokes emotion, builds customer loyalty, and sets you apart from your competitors. When creating your brand's name, consider your core values, unique characteristics, and company mission. If your business is local to an area, create a brand name that reflects the values and interests of your community. 

In brand name creation, less is more. Keep it easy to remember and say. Personality is key, so take your time developing a name with a distinct sound and look. Don't limit your brainstorming session. Some of the most unique, memorable brand names come from unexpected inspirations and situations.

5. Design a Relevant Logo

A strong logo is paramount for brand identity, as it is typically the first thing customers encounter when learning about your brand.

When designing your logo, consider the following:

  • Find the balance between meaning and aesthetics. You want your logo to look good and create emotion.
  • Combine versatility and simplicity. Rather than murking the water, consider using simple elements that stand out. 
  • Choose elements that are relevant but not literal. 
  • Don't ignore the power of simple shapes and colors used in a unique way.

6. Know Your Brand Voice and Keep It Consistent

Consistency is vital to customer loyalty. If one of every four products you sell is dysfunctional, consumer trust decreases quickly. It's the same when your messaging is inconsistent. Customers also want to know your commitment to your initial values is strong. Smaller businesses must harness this power because, with a smaller customer base, there's a brighter spotlight on how you conduct business in the community.

The philosophies and messages that are key to your business should be present in any marketing materials you create. Your website, social media, advertising campaigns, mailers, and company emails should all have the same message and voice. Building trust through consistent messaging will also build your loyal customer base. 

7. Develop a Style Guide for Your Brand

Most small, local businesses start with just a few employees who are committed to the brand and loyal to the product. As that changes and you grow and evolve, your brand will also. You add more employees, reach out to new markets, or offer your product in new places. When doing so, it's important to keep your brand voice consistent. An important and often overlooked part of brand identity is the brand style guide. 

A brand style guide, sometimes called a house style guide, is a document that clearly states the guidelines and rules for all of the written and visual communication elements of your brand. While creating a style guide can be a large undertaking in the beginning, it only requires occasional updates once it is created. This document should be a living document that evolves as your brand does. 

Evolve Your Brand Identity

A brand identity is a fluid concept. It may change over time as your company branches out into new markets. What worked in the beginning may need to be built on to reach new demographics. For help discovering your core values and identity, understanding your audience, identifying what makes you different and unique, and committing to consistency across the board, contact us at TrustSignals Marketing. We'll get you on your way to building a brand identity strategy that translates to real results.

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