3 tips for building a brand with impact


An expert’s insights into what constitutes good branding, how one small business owner has put those principles into practice, and three top tips to remember.

At a glance

Here’s a snapshot of the insights from our interviewees:

  • Good branding isn’t just about having a colourful logo – it’s about how you make your customers feel.
  • Focus on their priorities in buying, not your own priorities in selling.
  • Consumers love an owner origin story – but ensure it reinforces what they want from your brand.
  • Storm in a D Cup owner Esther Labi crafted a brand that reflects her personality and passion, and remains consistent across platforms.

There’s more to branding than a snazzy logo. 

To successfully market themselves to customers, retailers need to sell not only a product but also an engaging business narrative. This process isn’t simple – a lot goes on behind the scenes to build brand recognition and reinforce messaging. But there are core principles small business owners can use to get their branding right and convey the intended message to customers. 

We spoke with a branding expert for their insights into effective small business branding and top three takeaways for small business, and with a small business owner about how they’ve built greater recognition for and appreciation of their brand among their customer base. 

Principles of good business branding

“A common misconception is thinking your brand is your logo, shopfront and business card,” says marketing and branding expert and Eloquent founder Sean Withford. “It’s not. Your brand is how people feel about you. 

“Think of a brand as the gut response customers have to your business. Your logo is a part of that, but it’s not everything. A cafe might have an amazing logo, but if the staff are rude, the food is served cold and customers are consistently overcharged, they end up with a negative brand – regardless of how good their logo is. 

“A nice logo and website do not make a brand.” 

So what principles should small business owners consider to build a stronger brand? Sean recommends asking two essential questions: 

  1. Who is your audience? 
  2. What’s most important to them? 

“A customer doesn’t buy a pool heater simply to heat up their pool,” he explains. “They buy because they want to be the house that everyone comes to for a party. They want their kids to have fun and invite their friends over. 

“Identify the experiences and emotions you want customers to get from buying your product – family, friendship or connectedness, for example. Those are the elements of your brand you need to identify and showcase.” 

He suggests encouraging existing customers to spread the word of their positive experience. 

“A marketing fundamental we see proven over and over is social proof,” says Sean. “If you want to associate your brand with particular emotions, think about how the product can create more of those emotions in your customers via testimonials.” 

Spreading the word is key, and consumers love a good origin story – but owners should steer away from going too hard too fast. 

“Where marketing tends to go wrong is when businesses talk about themselves rather than the benefits they bring to their audience,” says Sean. “It’s okay to have an origin story and it’s okay to talk about yourself – as long as the benefit to the customer is clear.” 

Small business owners can fall down by focusing too closely on the product being sold, he explains, rather than how the product will make the customer’s life better or happier, or improve the way they do something. 

“Bad branding ultimately looks inwards and only talks about itself, and fails to explain the benefit to customers,” he says. Owners need to make that benefit clear upfront, and then go into further detail about the product to back up the claim. 

Using branding to reflect business values

When Esther Labi, founder and owner of Storm in a D Cup, sat down to name her lingerie and swimwear business, she knew it needed to be something fun and infused with personality. 

“I was looking for something a little fun, quirky and not too serious,” she says. “Someone mentioned Storm in a D Cup, which was perfect. A storm in a teacup is making a big deal out of nothing, so it was a fun play on words. 

“Every time I write an ad, a product description or copy for SEO, the business’s personality has shone through. It’s actually been hard to find someone else who can write in the same voice as me!” 

Conveying that personality through the brand has proven successful for Esther, who encourages a distinctly personal relationship with customers. 

Echoing Sean’s advice, she focuses on the customer’s needs for the product rather than the product itself – for example, Storm in a D Cup will send prospective customers bras to try even before they’ve made a purchase. The business is there to help customers and works to make them feel positive emotions, says Esther – which in turn builds a more positive brand. 

When it comes to the brand’s visual identity, Esther says she has opted for consistency in tone for the past 17 years, retaining the core colours of pink, white and black when updating the logo. Despite this change, however, the business’s essential values have not wavered – which is why customers keep coming back. 

Sean’s top takeaways for effective branding 

  1. Foster positive feedback. “Humans look at what other humans are doing before making decisions, so focus on gaining positive reviews, testimonials and case studies.” 
  2. Remember that big things grow from small gestures. “Find ways to delight your customers through products, service or experience.” 
  3. Make the customer the hero. “Prioritise their story over your own, because building a brand is what customers think and feel about you, not the other way around.” 

Need flexible access to funds that could help your business grow? Speak with one of our small business lending specialists.

The information in this post is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. Nothing contained in this post constitutes advice or an endorsement or recommendation of any kind by Prospa. Any links to third party websites are strictly for informational purposes only. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.