Your Small Business Brand is Your Superpower

Even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, you’re probably familiar with the Force. Jedi Master Yoda describes the Force as the universal energy connecting all things.

If you understand what the Force is, you already understand the basics of why small businesses need to take their brand more seriously. Allow me to explain.

Imagine if, before going up against Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker opted not to use the Force and was all, “Nah, I’ve got a light sabre. I’m good.”

That’d be dumb right? Opting not to use a literal superpower? Who would do that?

This is my reaction when I see a small business that isn’t doing everything it to cultivate an authentic connection with their audience. That connection is our Force, our superpower.

It’s especially infuriating because creating this connection is so damn easy, all it takes is a clearly defined brand.

Small Business, One Big Advantage

“Size Matters Not”

Yoda says this during a pep talk to Luke in The Empire Strikes Back.

Yoda’s point being, the ability to crush your goals isn’t dependent on being bigger than your opponent. In fact, being small can have its advantages.

This is also true for small businesses. No matter what type of business you run, there is probably a large, established player in your field with far more money to spend on advertising and promotion.

However, there’s one major advantage we small businesses have over the big guys: the opportunity to forge a real relationship with our buyers. Giant corporations like to pretend they have this, but they don’t.

Why? Because once a business grows to a certain size, it requires a level of uniformity in its operations that strips the company of its “person”ality. Buyers no longer relate in the same way they relate to another human.

Small businesses often have a unique story, a passionate founder, or a clear mission that resonates with customers. This authenticity can help build trust and create stronger emotional bonds, which in turn creates more dedicated, loyal customers.

Small Business Branding Makes the Difference

This valuable connection with your audience doesn’t just happen because you’re not Wal-Mart, it needs to be cultivated with intention.

Your customers need to know who you are, and what you stand for. The way they get this all-important information is through your branding.

If you have not taken the time to deliberately define your brand, you can be sure that you’re not as efficient as you could be at bringing in new buyers.

Why Brand is Your Ambassador

This is because consumers don’t assess your business with their conscious brains. Or perhaps they do, but long before that, (well, several milliseconds, anyway) they’ve already made a decision about whether to choose you with their unconscious brain.

A classic 1991 paper in Advances in Consumer Research notes that when we see an ad, for example, it triggers an emotion in us that prompts a motivation. This happens automatically, not deliberately.

We see a video of LeBron James beating the record for total career points, we feel pride or appreciation that makes us want to show our support by spending $350 on a pair of LeBron IX high-tops. Or so my nine-year-old tells me.

In this case, he has a brand affinity with Nike. Unfortunately for him, I, the holder of the credit cards, do not.

Real Connections Are Stronger

I know that Nike is just trying to play me (and my tween) and frankly, it’s irritating.

But imagine if instead of Nike and sneakers, it was my neighbour Paul, and his Nonna’s recipe for the world’s most heavenly gelato. I don’t feel much emotion toward King James or the corporation that makes his shoes, but I would buy 5 scoops a day to keep Paul’s gelateria in business.

Why? Because I know Paul and what he stands for, so I’m more likely to believe he is worthy of my loyalty instead of seeing him as, say, a shill for Big Ice Cream.

Branding facilitates this valuable connection to your audience because it’s a shortcut to explaining why you are unique, what problems you solve, and how your values overlap with theirs.

small business brand is no problem for a tiny gelateria
Don’t worry Paul, I gotchu.

Is Branding Necessary?

You’ve undoubtedly honed your brand at least somewhat. If you have a logo, you have one brand component. If you have a vision, mission or defined values, you have another one.

To fully make an authentic connection to your audience, in order to tap into that superpower, it’s vital to fully and deliberately define the following four aspects of your brand.

  1. Your visuals. This includes your colours, logos, fonts and images.
  2. Your audience. Who are you talking to when describing who you are? Who do you want to attract?
  3. Your messaging. This is simply the words you use to answer your audience’s questions about what you do. Your elevator pitch. The copy on your website. How your employees describe what they do.
  4. Your proposition. What you’re in the market to achieve. That vision, mission and those values. What your goals are.

If you put in the work to fully define these four categories, I guarantee you will see an increase in leads. Just don’t forget Yoda’s advice: