How can small business branding remain timeless in the digital age?

Everything around us is evolving at an alarming age. The digital age has reached the era of AI. But where does that leave your small business branding efforts?

Well, the good news is that while the methods of execution have changed, the principles of branding remains the same. While people may be changing their content consumption behaviors, and while trends in advertising may shift from time to time, the essence of building a brand is timeless.

How to build a timeless brand in the age of AI:

1. Focus on the foundational branding principles:

timeless branding,digital marketing age,era of AI,lisech marketing strategy consulting, small business marketingThere are some things at the core of small business branding which simply remain constant, no matter how much the business landscape changes.

For instance:

Is your brand messaging clear? Do you have a clear, consistent and resonating brand message, or does it change shape according to your current advertising campaign? If your message changes all the time, how will people remember you?

How do you differentiate yourself from other players in the market? What will YOUR business be remembered for, as opposed to your opposition/competition? When your business’ name comes up, will potential customers view it as something different, or “just another me-too business”?

Do you really understand your target audience and your target market? It has been said over and over again: Give enough people what they want, and you will make money. But do you know what they really want? when people – for instance – buy a Lexus, do they want prestige, luxury or peace of mind? And if it is a combination, what are the priorities in terms of percentage?

2. Focus on building a strong brand identity:

For many new businesses just starting out, even the logo is often just an afterthought – just because “they have to have one”. In some cases it is “just something slapped up on some free logo maker”. And yes, we have seen some horrible ones.

Think logically: If your logo looks like it was designed by a ten year old (no offense to ten year olds), how could you ever expect people to take you seriously, and spend substantial amounts of money on whatever you have to offer?

A weak brand identity just screams “generic”. Me-too. And it starts with your logo, but it doesn’t end there.

Does your logo communicate your brand’s values? If you are trying to sell reliable used cars, a cheap looking logo is likely to communicate the opposite. Brands are about trust. And while trust takes time to earn, distrust can happen in an instant.

Aside from that, when you look at the other elements of your brand – colors and other visual elements – are they cohesive? Or do you – for instance – use different fonts on your website, your logo and company stationery?

Everything you do is part of your brand. But does everything add up to one big picture, or is it just a bunch of loose bits and pieces?

Nobody can recognize the picture in a jigsaw puzzle before the pieces come together.

3. Focus on emphasizing your brand’s values and mission:

In a day and age where there is an epic content overload, and a mass of voices trying to compete for your prospective client/customer’s attention (not all competing with you for the sale, but definitely competing for attention), and masses of generic marketing…

The basics of branding come back into play: What’s your story? People love a story they can relate to. It gives them common ground, and a reason to like you.

What does your brand stand for? Fair enough, you may want to be careful to not just get caught up in the latest fad or trend when you decide that. But again, go back to your ideal customer profile – what would matter to them? What will resonate with them? What will make them feel that you actually understand?

People seldom remember what you said to them. People don’t always remember what you did for them. But they always remember how you made them FEEL. And how your prospective clients/customers feel, starts with your brand’s message, mission and values resonating with them.

 

4. Focus on being consistent:

Branding is not just your logo or company stationery. Branding is not just your message. Branding is the whole nine yards – or as we like to refer to it, the whole user experience.

Elon Musk (smart guy, last time we checked) said: “A brand is just a perception. And perceptions can change over time.”

Logically speaking, EVERYTHING that could influence the prospect’s perception of your brand should be considered branding. That starts with the logo, ends with after-sales service, and everything in between. The marketing, what they read online about you, first impressions of your premises and/or website, the buying experience, and most importantly, how they FEEL during all of this.

The bottom line is that branding has many touch-points. Do all of these touch-points align, do they all form part of the bigger picture, and are they all aimed at making the prospect feel valued and understood?

Any small bit of your brand’s user experience which is out of place, can detract from the brand perception you are trying to create. And any distraction from that user experience is a dilution of your brand.

Think of it like this:

The whole brand experience is like a fishing net, and the prospective client/customer is the fish. Does your fishing net have any holes through which the fish could slip out?

 

In conclusion:

As you can see, the core principles of branding are as timeless as ever. Human nature has not changed. Yes, our environment has changed. The delivery systems for your brand’s message has changed. The amount of voices competing for your audience’s attention has changed.

But at the core, people still crave what they did 50 years ago. To feel that they matter.