Small Business Branding 101:
8 Steps to Making Your Mark
By Hillary Lacouture | VP of Marketing, BECO

Published July 21, 2023

Your business is more than a company. It’s an invaluable brand, an asset that can account for as much 50% of your company’s value. Properly executed branding communicates the unique value you offer, spells out your solution, and creates and cultivates emotional connections that affect how customers and prospects perceive your business.

Developing and strengthening your professional brand identity quickly differentiates you from your competition, sets expectations and builds trust. The time you invest in your branding strategy will be worth it, because when brand development is done right, the benefits and ROI come quickly and can be easily measured.

Research bears out the importance of developing a strong brand identity. According to Accenture, 66% of consumers say that a brand’s culture and transparency attract them to buy its products and services. Your brand has the potential to say a great deal about so many aspects of who you are: your company’s products and services, customer relations, company culture, promises, values and societal goals.

As a small business owner, you have many competing priorities and demands. But if you make time to follow these 8 steps to creating a strong brand identity, you’ll master the basics and reap bottom-line rewards for decades to come.

Step 1: Identify your target audience

The only way you can create a brand identity that resonates with your customers is to start by truly understanding them. Be sure to define the problem you’re solving for your customer. Early on, you must take time to learn all about your primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences and develop a buyer persona for each. What do your target customers like and dislike? What do they value? What interests and hobbies are they passionate about? The answers to those and other key questions will get your branding efforts off to a solid start.

Once you have a deep understanding of your customers, you should focus on doing some competitive research. Delve into how other companies in your industry are positioning themselves through visual elements, personalities and themes. You want to make sure you don’t inadvertently duplicate what another company in your industry is doing. Embracing what makes you unique will help you stand out in the crowd and find the “whitespace” in your market–the place where you can stand apart from your competitors.

Step 2: Create your brand identity

Your brand identity encompasses your logo, branding style guide, marketing materials and color palettes. But it’s much more than that. Your brand identity is the culmination of how your brand looks, feels and speaks to customers. It influences the entire customer experience and ultimately affects how others view your credibility and business.

It’s important to develop a voice, message and brand identity that will make your audience feel emotionally invested in your company. Should your brand inspire nostalgic thoughts? Should it have a playful, amusing personality? Or maybe it should be all business, projecting an indelible image of trust and success.

If you’re thorough and adopt a well-informed strategy, your branding can directly convey a message that your product is more effective, easier to use, better tasting, cheaper, classier, cooler or more environmentally sound than its competitors.

Step 3: Cement your brand identity with a brand story

Your brand story shouldn’t necessarily tell your company’s origin story, although it should explain what compelled you to start your business.
The goal of your brand story should be to provide these answers:

      • What does your company believe in?
      • What pain points are you alleviating for your customers?
      • How does your business solve those problems?
      • What made you decide to take on this mission?
      • Where do you see your business going in the future?


As you’re crafting a compelling brand story, try not to think of it as just an elevator pitch. It’s more about how your brand relates to people and why it exists.

Quick tip for writing your brand story: Make all elements of your brand identity clear, cohesive and repeatable. It’s less complicated to make future decisions based on a set of solid branding guidelines than to rehash your story every time you launch a new campaign.

Step 4: Create and share your brand assets

You’ll often hear all of these elements of your visual identity referred to as brand assets:

      • Logo
      • Color palettes
      • Typography
      • Iconography
      • Photography and graphics for marketing campaigns
      • Style guide that explains appropriate usage of the elements above


A strong visual identity is an essential piece of the branding puzzle. Your brand assets should accurately represent your business and provide continuity throughout your website, social media and marketing campaigns and materials.

We recommend enlisting the help of a professional designer who can guide you through finding the best colors, typography, and visual elements to convey the desired message for your brand. Ask yourself if your brand is more traditional and serious or bold and playful. Another thing to consider is how adaptable your brand’s visual identity will need to be across various mediums–digital, print, etc.

Step 5: Remember the 3 Cs of branding


It’s your job, not your customer’s, to figure out what message you’re sending into the marketplace. If potential customers have to work to interpret an element you’ve created, your brand isn’t clear. Keep refining.


Your email communications should be consistent with the messaging on your website, which should also match up with what you’re putting out on social media. And the list goes on… The reason is simple: consistency in your marketing and branding efforts inspires confidence and trust in customers.


As marketers, we all want our ads to go viral, right? If we don’t have that immediate gratification, we get discouraged, second guess our strategy and shift directions. Your takeaway? Remember that great branding takes time and depends on all your marketing channels supporting each other.

Clear, consistent messaging, when used over time, will help you establish a strong relationship with your customers. When creating your marketing plan, use your brand identity as a guide for deciding how to promote your business consistently across various channels.

Step 6: Align your website with your brand identity

The number of people who make online purchases grows by the minute. This rampant growth of online retail makes your website an important storefront for your business. Everything on it, from design and visuals to content and copy, should align with your brand voice and identity.

What exactly does that mean? Your website’s colors and typography should follow your style guide. You’ll also want to check for any readability issues and address them before you launch a new website or update your existing one. Let’s say your brand color is red — using a red background would make reading difficult. Instead, go with a clean, white background or another complementary color, and add red design elements.

In addition to visually aligning your website with your brand identity, the tone of writing throughout your website should reflect what you want people to associate with your brand. A casual, fun and lively tone works well for a brand that wants to come off as playful. Companies in more traditional businesses should aim for a more formal approach and tone online.

7. Build your social media presence

A strong social media presence is absolutely crucial for building an expanding base of loyal customers. Social media can be an especially powerful tool for reaching your target audience. Start by choosing the platform your target audience is most active on, and when promoting your company on social, use consistent brand visuals and messaging across channels.

Your company’s social media profiles should tell people who you are and what you do succinctly and clearly. Choose profile pictures, showcase your logo and select cover images that match your brand’s visual identity. Make sure to use language that matches your brand's voice in every post or caption.

Check out this article for step-by-step instructions on building a social media strategy for your business.

8. Align paid promotions with your brand's voice

Many new businesses and start-ups give their brands a jump-start through paid promotions. To ensure these campaigns reflect your brand, choose the promotion and channel that are most likely to help you reach your target audience.

Start by researching the behavior and preferences of the demographic you’re targeting. Where do they consume the most content? If they primarily use social media, which platforms do they frequent? Use these findings to choose your paid channels.

If you’re targeting a younger demographic, partnering with a relevant social media influencer might be more effective than ads. Don’t link up with just anyone though. Choose influencers whose values align with your brand identity.

No matter whether you’re running ads on Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn, be sure your ad content strongly aligns with your brand identity. If this is the first touchpoint you have with a potential customer, you want them to understand who you are right away.

Final thoughts

Keep in mind that your initial brand identity will need to evolve over time. In all marketing efforts, change is inevitable as your company grows and its products and services evolve. Once you have created your initial brand identity, analyze and refine it based on customer feedback. Test new strategies and tactics to see what works best to appeal to your target audience and maximize your customer experience. For example, you could A/B test different taglines on your homepage to see which story resonates most effectively with your audience.

Never forget that branding is not an expense. It’s an investment in an asset. Brand equity includes components like consumer awareness, associated qualities and loyalty. These intangible aspects are often difficult to value, but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t invest in business branding right from the start.

So how much should you budget for this investment? One rule of thumb is to budget 12-15% of an initial investment into branding. This amount can then be applied toward supporting resources such as a branding strategist, graphic and web designers, copywriter, marketing expert, social media expert, and others.

You should always also rely on your internal resources. As you develop your brand identity, interview your employees, the people closest to your current brand. They have an important point of view on how the company should be positioned and what has and hasn’t resonated and worked in the past.

Branding can be a fun process that generates renewed excitement for why you went into business in the first place. The more you enjoy the process, the more you’ll feel great about your creative, effective and lasting results!

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