The Importance of Branding for Small Businesses

December 02, 2021 Mihaela Lica Butler

For small businesses, branding is the difference between success and failure: it connects the business with the right customers, eventually generating growth. The role of branding is to set any enterprise apart from its competitors, but its importance goes beyond that.

What is branding?

Branding is a marketing strategy that will position a business within its industry while influencing people’s perceptions and views of its core values, qualities, products, services, and more. In essence, branding is a set of deliberate actions that will influence customer’s perceptions while setting the business apart from its competitors.

Branding is a process that will embed attributes beyond the visual representation of a logo into the customers’ minds. A logo should make a brand memorable and trigger awareness, emotional responses, and recognition. Nevertheless, the branding process goes further, to taglines, slogans, company lingo, core values, product design, colors, and much more.

A Short History of the Logo

Branding is an old strategy dating as far as 2250 BCE to the Indus Valley cultural region in the form of patterned seals.

“According to UCLA Indianologist Stanley Wolpert, the magnificent seals of tigers, Brahma bulls, elephants, and other Indian animals were “probably made for merchants who used them to 'brand' their wares.” - Moore, Karl & Reid, Susan. (2008), The Birth of Brand: 4000 Years of Branding History. Bus History. 4. 10.1080/00076790802106299.

The first brands were symbols used to mark merchandise and animals. These “brands” made it easier for people - owners, sellers, and buyers - to recognizes the wares. The practice continued with symbols on wax seals used for letters and official documents, to coats of arms and other official insignia.

Later on, companies began using symbols for logos to make a lasting impression in the minds of their buyers. The following infographic shows a brief history of the logo and its importance in the branding process.

Branding - History of the Logo

Logo history - Source:


Modern businesses need logos that are:

  • Easy to remember: simple shapes, which are recognizable and memorable. Choose the right colors: color improves brand recognition by up to 80% (
  • Unique: never copy or “emulate” another’s brand logo. Logos are the trademarks of their specific businesses, which may take legal action against you if they feel that their trademarks have been infringed.
  • Timeless: sometimes minor changes to a logo make sense to keep in trend, but most logos are forever. For example, in 1886, Frank M Robinson envisioned the world-famous Coca-Cola logo we recognize so quickly today.
  • Fluid: consider that you may need to use your logo on stationery but also on the Internet. Make it versatile enough to look good on any background and in any size.
  • Relevant to your business: design a logo that communicates your company’s scope of activity and niche.

Branding in Modern Times

The logo is the most important visual representation of a brand. Still, it is essential to acknowledge that designing a logo is not the only aspect to consider when planning a branding strategy.

The term “brand” in modern marketing appeared in H.D. Wolfe’s 1942 “Techniques of Appraising Brand Preference and Brand Consciousness by Consumer Interviewing,” but branding as a crucial marketing strategy begun later, in the 1970s and with it branding style guides containing the logo, the color palette, the vision and mission statements of a company, imagery guidelines, and the brand story - all elements made to persuade the customers and to convert them into more than buyers: brand advocates.

Therefore, today’s branding strategies must include a pre-defined branding style guide customized to your enterprise. So, first, create your style guide:

  • brand story: define the vision and mission statements that will introduce your brand to the world and consider your targeted audiences and the voice (terms you use in storytelling) you want to use to attract them;
  • design a unique, timeless, memorable, scalable, and niche-relevant logo - this is where you have the logo guidelines: color, altering, usage rights, variations, and so on;
  • a consistent color palette - RGB and HEX codes, CMYK, and PANTONE, for the color match across corporate stationery, website, apps, and other marketing materials;
  • typeset: one or more fonts consistently used across all marketing materials;
  • imagery: choose the images you will use across the web or stationery and marketing materials to represent your brand. Ideally, these images should be original, not stock-bought.

Ideally, for a good branding style guide and a strategy designed for success, avoid the DIY approach, and hire a branding expert. While this may be costly at first, it is a wise investment for your brand’s lifetime. Hire a branding expert before you name your business and products. Experts will identify competitors with the same or similar names and find the meaning of those names in other languages or see if the terms are offensive or unflattering for your brand. They will also identify similar or identical logos, define the right branding strategy for your company, and go further to brand development and positioning.

A Short Branding Guide

With or without a branding expert or consultant, here is what you should do to establish a good brand today:

  • Define your business persona: who are you, what are you selling, what do you hope to achieve, what are your business goals. This step precedes all the rest.
  • Outline your voice: articulate the mission (or purpose) and vision statements based on your corporate values, beliefs, intent, and social commitment. These are your brand manifesto’s foundation - the values that inspire and persuade consumers not only to buy but to advocate. Appeal to your audience’s emotions and values, and use this “branding voice” consistently in your writing across all marketing materials.

Branding - Coca Cola

  • Define what makes your brand special: identify your particular values and benefits for the consumers, as well as the attributes that set you apart from the competition. As a small business, you must be better, more mindful, and more original than others in your field. You should be able to satisfy more than a “need” or price to be competitive. You must make your potential customers believe in your brand and its values.
  • Identify your target audience: who are your customers? Contrary to what you may expect, you’ll have to juggle between your ideal customer (who you want to buy your products) and reality (the unexpected people interested in what you have to sell). This process will take hours, if not weeks, of research. So, after the research, establish your buyer personas. For a small business, keep their number under seven: a couple for your ideal customers and the rest for the market forecast based on research.
  • Inspire through visuals: people are inherently visual (except for the visually impaired), so choose your imagery to inspire their awe. The logo is part of this process, but so are website and stationery graphics, photos displayed on a website or posters, and much more. Your branding style guide should have guidelines to address the use of imagery, color, and other visual elements to support your branding efforts.
  • Use branding to your benefit: while prioritizing your customers, put all your efforts to work in everything you do to promote your business: website, stationery, advertising, social media, and so on. Remember consistency and do not imitate other brands. Be yourself - people resonate with authenticity.

Instead of Conclusion: Why Branding Matters Now More than Ever?

Branding is time-consuming: it takes months to build a house but only minutes to bring it down. Extrapolating, it takes a lifetime to build a brand, but only a mistake to crush it.

Also, in the “age of engage,” brands pollute the newsfeeds with stories, aggressive ads, sponsored updates, and other strategies that set them apart from competitors. As a result, they almost “suffocate” the message. But consumers don’t always mind. So you must “engage” to remain competitive and relevant.

Consider these statistics:

  • consumers tend to be loyal to brands: 56% like brands that “get them” and 89% of stay loyal to brands that share their values (Source:
  • consumers love brands that commit to transparency: over 94% of all consumers rely on brands that build trustful relationships (Source:
  • social media is a good customer loyalty driver: 71% of consumers with a positive brand experience on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family (Source:

Based on these examples, the critical takeaway Is: pursue your branding efforts for as long as you are in business. Be aggressive enough - ads, blog posts, press releases, other marketing aids - to gently nudge your followers, brand advocates, and potential customers into action. But, on the other hand, do not “suffocate”  your audiences. Always be true to your purpose, voice, and values. Branding is you!