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Can you expand a small business with branding?

Can branding help you expand a small business?

You might have not considered it, but it actually is a decisive factor for the success of your plan.

How do you expand a small business? How does your personal training program, your pastry shop, your pet care boutique become something bigger and more impactful?

Many small business owners ask themselves this question every day and suggestions abound: most of them are – correctly – business-minded. Communication is not usually seen as part of the equation and yet, its absence might hinder your efforts. The health of your brand – no matter how small – really makes a difference when it comes to expanding.

how branding can help your small business growth

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How branding can help you expand a small business

While branding in itself will not expand your small business, having a solid, articulated brand is a vital precondition for many expansion strategies. See it as securing your vessel before moving from calm waters to the open sea.

Here are some ways branding can help expand a small business.

expand your small business company through franchising

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CASE 1 — Expand a Small Business Through Franchising

Once your small business is running just fine, you might be tempted to expand it by creating a franchising, and having other people… well, adopt your brand. Yes, exactly: franchising is all about branding. But not just in the sense that you should quickly cook up a brand so all of the franchisees will look the same.

You actually need to start branding way before your commercial approach and make your brand grow, so that it will be recognized as valuable by aspiring franchisees. Would you rather open a BurgerKing or a BurgerPrince?

A strong brand will reflect in better negotiating conditions and franchisee retention. A weak brand might just be a complete turn-off.

grow your small business with strategic partnerships

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CASE 2 — Expand a Small Business Through Strategic Partnerships

A big journey is easier in good company: in order to expand a small business, you want to have the right partners. They might share their customers with you, set up a discount program or decide to associate their products with yours.

A strong brand is key in convincing your potential partners that this is the right thing to do and that your business is healthy.

Not just that: your brand will also help your partners understand the values your business is associated with. This is important because they are going to be associated with those values, too. A rock festival might want to be associated with Red Bull, a violin school might not (or they could, in case they are looking to attract young students!).

expand small business with a loyal customer base

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CASE 3 — Expand a Small Business With a Loyal Customer Base

Having a loyal customer base to rely on is a great advantage, especially when you are starting small. While bigger brands might just go full speed ahead on market penetration, a smaller one wants to raise a community before it expands. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your customers will love you. Simply, they will remember you.

People tend to go for brands that come to mind more easily, and this also holds true for small businesses. That cleaning company that’s stuck in your mind will be more likely to have repeat customers than the other one that just blends into the background.

grow a small business targeting new markets

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CASE 4 — Expand a Small Business by Targeting New Markets

Maybe you got a foothold in a certain sector and you are tempted to target an entirely new market. Say you have been selling pet clothes for a while and now you would like to sell kids clothes, too.

While this is not an easy feat, a good brand can help you pull it off. This is because the brand is about more than just “what you sell”. It is about values that can potentially be extended from one area to another.

Think about Virgin or Caterpillar: these incredibly strong brands easily expanded their business to new markets because people knew what to expect from them, respectively irreverence and sturdiness. In the same fashion, you can expand a small business by making sure the brand is as big as its ambitions.

grow your small business with e-commerce

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CASE 5 — Expand a Small Business Through e-Commerce

If you have some kind of shop, you might be tempted to go online and start your own e-commerce website. This can help you expand your small business quickly, but it’s not exempt from risks. What if you just get ignored?

Direct-to-consumer brands have been all the rage for a few years now, but in this context branding is more important than ever.

Unfortunately, many brands fall victim to what has been called “blanding”: they ultimately look all the same. In a digital context (the Instagram feed, for example) this is deadly: there is no shopkeeper there, no doormat, no cue to differentiate you from other sellers. It’s all down to the brand and how well it communicates.

fix your small business brand before expansion

Photo by Hamish Duncan on Unsplash

Fix your brand before you expand

It should go without saying but it’s worth stressing the concept that branding takes time. Your branding efforts will start paying off in months, maybe in a year.

This means that before thinking about expanding your business you should focus on your brand and prepare it for the road ahead. It will take some patience, but you will be glad you did it.

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Andrea Sublimio Strategist
AUTHOR:

Andrea Ciulu
Copywriter & Strategist

A creative and analytical thinker, with strong roots in advertising, Andrea crafts concepts, branding and communication strategies that make a difference.

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