BRANDING is vital to your future business success. It goes without saying that a strong branding message about your company or product can have a significant impact on your market visibility, customer base and sales. In reality, branding is far more than just a logo,message, slogan, tagline — it is how your business is perceived by your customers and key partners.

Successful brands have branding at the heart of the business. Many small business owners already understand that branding is essential to their business, but many do not know why, or how to create strong brand, which is just as important for them, as it is for bigger brand names.

Strong, on-message branding should create the business’ identity, embodying the core values of the business, and not just what it looks and sounds like. So how do you go about creating a brand that will deliver returns on your investment and mark you out from your competitors?

Here are six top tips for creating a strong brand:

1. DEFINE: Think about what you have to offer as a business

Work out what space you occupy in the marketplace, and do your research into the needs of your key customers. Through identifying and defining your place in the market, you stand a better chance of creating a brand that connects with your customer base and differentiates you from your competitors.

2. PERSONALISE: Think of your Brand as a person

An individual character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes. Define who your customers are and who they connect with. This will enable you to develop your brand so that it connects with your core customers, based on a personal level and help you to fall in love with your own brand – which is vital if you want to market what you are offering successfully.

3. THINK LONG TERM: Honest branding builds trust and customer loyalty.

False promises, trying to pretend your brand is something else brings opposite results. So, be honest about what your company values are, to solidify long-term relationship with consumers. Being consistent in your messaging also means that your customers know what to expect from you to help cement your relationship with them.

4. AVOID REPETITION: Be creative to find different ways of relaying the same message to your customers. Whilst giving a consistent message is key to building customer trust, too much repetition in your branding message will bore your customers and turn them off your Brand. So, be

creative – and find different ways of relaying the same message rather than repeating the same slogans or tag line.

5. BE ORIGINAL AND AUTHENTIC: Do not be afraid to distinguish yourself from big, well-known brands.

Market trends point towards retailers who offer original, authentic products. Big brands are often constrained by their company policies, whilst independent brands have a higher level of flexibility to react to the needs of customers. So flaunt this quality, to attract loyal long term customers.

6. KEEP AN AIR OF MYSTERY: Don’t give everything away up front

Give customers a chance to do research and find out more about you. Teasers directing customers to your website is a good way to help them engage with your brand. Even in the digital age, word of mouth is still a powerful tool, and once customers find out more about you, they are likely to share with others. Therefore, creating a strong brand presence upfront is a long-term investment which will reap long term results.