Brand Management

Small Steps, Big Impact: Sustainable Branding for Small Businesses

By Amrit Kaur on January 29, 2024

Share this article:

A woman smiles as she puts an open sign on the door of her business.

“If your idea is exceptional, then commercialize it.”

It takes courage to step forward in bringing your idea to life, especially for those who don’t have a viable financial backup. Today, we will focus on those small businesses that find it difficult to get known or recognized even after being unique.

Starting something of your own comes with many challenges, the most obvious being “the investment.” Small business owners focus most of their energy on raising capital and manufacturing, forgetting something important: investing in good PR and marketing.

Only so much business can come through word of mouth, whereas having the right media coverage, marketing, and promotions can drive most of your sales.

Five mistakes small business owners make

Forgets to build an online presence

You probably scroll down Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat throughout the day for hours but fail to use the same platform to promote your business. The power of social media is unmatched. Neglecting to build a strong website and social media pages means failing to reach your target audience.

Branding is weak

You cannot market a product without envisioning the look of your brand. Their biggest mistake is having a poor brand outlook, which involves posting unplanned and inconsistent content across all the marketing channels. Variations in how you portray your brand’s image and message can confuse customers, and they may not recognize your product later.

Overlooking public relations

PR as a subject is misinterpreted at so many levels by small business owners. They want coverage, but getting two to three published articles alone cannot drive your sales. You need a regular effort at tracking media to see the relevant opportunities and where your product and brand can be placed in the market. Ignoring to drive positive PR and brand reputation can impact building credibility with customers.

Lack of consistency

A brand is not made overnight, but it takes the continuous effort of building it each day to reach the end goal. Small businesses miscalculate the value of doing consistent work to drive brand visibility. For instance, if you only post content on social media a few times a month, you shouldn’t also expect results. Creating recognition and loyalty to a brand involves time, and inconsistent marketing actions might jeopardize building a solid brand presence in customers’ minds.

Unclear goals

Start-ups and micro businesses are clueless about their PR and marketing goals. What is their message, where do they want to promote it, whom do they like to target, and what are the measurable outcomes they expect? This uncertainty can perplex both your internal teams and external audiences, making it difficult to build a clear brand identity.

Well, it’s never too late to start building your unique image and reaching a wider audience.

Here are a few sustainable suggestions that will not dig a hole in your pocket.

Brand style tile

Before publishing any content, establishing a distinct visual identity for your brand is crucial. Human memory is predominantly photographic, emphasizing the importance of a strong and memorable brand appearance.

Creating a brand-style tile is key to shaping a unified visual identity. Begin by crafting a unique brand logo, the cornerstone of your brand’s recognition.

Following this, carefully choose a colour palette. Colours evoke specific emotions; red signifies boldness, anger, or love, while blue conveys calmness and nobility. Thoughtfully selecting the right colours enhances the brand’s impact and resonance. And don’t forget about deciding the typography; you don’t want to get confused about which font to use every time.

Therefore, the style tile is your brand’s reference point and fosters consistency. It protects the visual integrity of your brand, ensuring that people remember, recognize, and return.

Software that is easy and free to use other than Adobe Illustrator for building a style tile is HubSpot Design Tools, DesignEvo, Linearity Curve, and Inkscape.

Using social media channels (Owned media)

Making your brand’s social media pages might be pretty straightforward, but it takes much research and effort to make it work.

This platform provides you with access to billions of users in one place, making reaching your target audience easier. So, the key here is strategy.

Step 1: Identify your SMART objectives. Setting a goal is important to attain measurable results, whether to drive more website traffic or increase sales.

Step 2: Create different plans and goals for different platforms. You cannot post the same content on all the social media platforms and expect the same result. You need to identify the niche platform for your target audience and engage them more.

Step 3: It is important to maintain consistent branding. Having the same visuals, bio, and brand voice across all the channels to retain the resonance. Don’t forget to keep the brand the same while posting different content.

Step 4: Create valuable, informative, and entertaining content for your audience. Today, posting content aligning with viral trends works really well. It means you are aware of and keeping up with the trends while at the same time making it unique by arranging the content according to your product or service. Don’t forget to use hashtags.

Step 5: Engage with your community. Respond to comments, messages, and mentions and show appreciation for their support.

Promote user-generated content (earned media): encourage customers to post reviews and share their experiences, as it will add credibility and authenticity to your brand.

Step 6: Partner and collaborate with other small businesses and influencers in your industry. This can help you increase your reach and recruit new customers.

Pocket-friendly ways of doing this could include going for a live chat with an influencer or brand. This will give you a platform to share product knowledge and interact with the audience. Another is giving out free samples to the influencers and asking for just a review or a story share for your product or service.

Step 7: Use analytical tools to track your progress. Social media analytics assist you in determining what works and what does not. Tailor your plan of action to the changes. 

These are just a few ways to interact with and attract a larger audience to your brand.

Remember: developing a social media presence takes time, so be patient and dedicate a continuous effort to give your audience something unique and valuable.

Sustainable PR and marketing

“I am my brand’s founder, CEO, auditor, and marketer.” It is impossible to manage everything single-handedly, and expertise should not be underestimated.

While hiring an agency to manage your PR might come with some budget constraints, initially, you may explore the option of engaging a freelancer to handle PR for you. Freelancers can offer skills without needing a long-term financial commitment, making you better equipped to manage the complicated aspects of public relations and marketing.

Recruiting students currently pursuing courses in PR and marketing, particularly from Generation Z, offers a unique advantage. Given their inherent understanding of digital platforms, they can play a pivotal role in crafting innovative content and devising effective strategies for social media. Their motivation and genuine passion for these mediums make them valuable contributors to your brand’s success.

These are just suggestions. Apply what aligns best with your brand and resonates with your audience. It’s a process of trial and error, evolving until you discover the strategies that work optimally for your unique context.

PS I am not an expert. I am just a PR student motivated to help small businesses grow and get the visibility they deserve.

You may also enjoy...

Read more great articles like this, or return to the main articles page…

All Articles

Prove Your Dough: A Recipe for Small Businesses to Navigate Your Own Media Relations

By Afrika Nieves-Bentley on May 27, 2024

This month, I want to reach small business owners so that my communications training can help you help yourself with media relations. Think of the example of retail: when you’re…

Prove Your Dough: A Recipe for Small Businesses to Navigate Your Own Media Relations - Read Post
An overhead view of someone baking.

A PR deep dive: The Sandoval-Leviss affair fallout on Vanderpump Rules

By Matisse Hamel-Nelis on June 12, 2023

The unfolding affair between Tom Sandoval and Raquel Leviss on the popular show Vanderpump Rules provides an interesting case study into reality TV’s public relations world.

A PR deep dive: The Sandoval-Leviss affair fallout on Vanderpump Rules - Read Post
Ariana Madix, Tom Sandoval, and Raquel Leviss.

How BookTok and Bookstagram Changed Publishing PR

By Jacqueline Gualtieri on May 27, 2024

If you walk into any bookstore in 2024, I can guarantee that one of the tables will be marked with something like “BookTok Favorites.”  What are some of the top…

How BookTok and Bookstagram Changed Publishing PR - Read Post
Colourful, colour-coded bookshelves in a library.