5 essential branding tips for small businesses

Effective branding can help your business shine. Here are five ways you can nail branding the first time round.

At a glance

Here's a snapshot of the advice from our interviewees:

  • A good brand helps you to build reputation, trust and loyalty among current and future customers.
  • Trying to appeal to too broad a customer base can dilute your message.
  • Do some soul-searching to work out your purpose, which will help inform your brand messaging. If it feels generic, drill deeper.
  • If you're still struggling to nail your branding, seeking external opinions can help.
By Caroline Riches 


In today’s bustling marketplace of ideas, products and services, your brand acts as your lighthouse, a beacon that tells your customers who you are and what you do.  

It’s especially important if you’re keen to attract new markets or new locations.  

“With more and more competition, a brand helps you differentiate yourself and generate loyalty,” explains The Brand Guy Richard Sauerman, who’s worked with more than 200 brands including Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Arnott’s and Tourism Australia. 

But a brand is about more than a logo, catchy tagline and sharp website.

“It’s your identity, your messaging, your values and your purpose,” Richard adds. “You’ve got to get that right.” 

For small businesses with a relatively small budget and a relatively quiet megaphone, this isn’t always easy. Here are five tips for nailing branding the first time around.

1. Don’t try to appeal to everybody

Melissa Ahlquist set up Little Biz to offer coaching and website development to small businesses. Along the way, she has rebranded, catapulting her turnover by 247% over the financial year that followed. 

She admits her original branding was off. 

“I thought that to be respected, I would need a muted and professional branding look, but the feel of the business was really boring,” she explains. “I’m fun, creative and I love thinking outside of the box, and I needed my brand to reflect that.” 

Gradually, Melissa infused her brand with pink and playful designs, starting with her business cards and Facebook banner until it encompassed her website and socials. 

“I now feel comfortable with my business identity. If you try to appeal to everybody, you’re simply diluting your message. If you don’t know who you’re connecting to, how do you know what to say?” 

2. Do some deep work 

If you’re starting your own business or considering a rebrand, Richard suggests business owners do a little soul-searching. 

“Ask yourself, ‘What’s my purpose?’, ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘What excites me about it?’ he suggests. “Wanting to make money is not enough. What’s your contribution to the world and to people who are going to buy your products or services?” 

If your statements feel too generic, drill down. 

“A purpose statement such as ‘We’re here to make a better world’ means nothing. Same with values such as innovation, teamwork and collaboration. Put your mission in your own words so when you read it back, you go, ‘Yes, that’s us. That’s how we say it.’” 

Working out who you are and who your customers are can mean ignoring industry trends and your competitors for a moment, adds Melissa. 

“When you connect to your branding and messaging, you feel excited and encouraged,” she says. 

“My customers trust me because they see I’m genuine and authentic.” 

3. Crowdsource opinions 

If you’re finding it hard to nail your messaging, enlist the help of those you trust, which may include staff, business partners, or current or future customers, advises Richard. 

“Ask them what they think your business is about, why they’re working with you and what they love about the experience. 

“Write down the key points, which will often give you an idea of your business DNA.” 


And once you’ve deciphered your brand identity, test it on people. 

“After a short 30- to 60-second elevator pitch, they should be excited,” says Richard.

4. Outsource your branding

Once you have a clear idea of your brand’s tone, colours and messaging, you can either create your own logo and assets on a platform such as Canva or outsource to a branding specialist or designer. 

“If you don’t have a design eye, outsourcing to someone who knows what they’re doing is a good idea,” says Melissa. 

And don’t settle if their designs don’t quite resonate, she adds. 

“I started with a vision in my mind of a ribbon but when I asked a logo designer to help, I didn’t like any of their suggestions. Eventually they sent me a design using a marker pen, which I loved.” 

Richard says creating an exciting brand doesn’t have to be expensive. 

“There are plenty of really good independent designers who charge a fraction of what big design agencies do. Plus there are courses that can help you on your rebranding journey.” 

5. Be consistent 

Once you’re settled on a brand, consistency is key, says Richard. 

“With small businesses, the messaging can be very fragmented, especially on social media. You want to have a golden thread that runs through everything you’re saying, which is your brand.” 

He says businesses typically have five to seven ways of expressing their brand, depending on who they’re talking to.  

“Consistency isn’t boring, it’s important – and means you’re always building on your brand,” he says. 

“Think about brands like Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson and Dr Martens. They’ve been the same for years and now they’re in the public consciousness. They’ve nailed it.” 

Ask a Prospa specialist about how a Prospa Small Business Loan can help support your business in times of uncertainty and make the most of growth opportunities. 

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