How to Brand a Small Business, Design and Strategy

August 18, 2022
Written by
Bailey Fortenbaugh
Published on
May 9, 2023

Small Business Brand Elevation

The world of mobile devices, from service carriers to device repair, can seem pretty boring on the surface. Small businesses are no exception. When everything looks similar and says the same thing, the little guys can get swallowed up in the noise of device companies competing for attention.

WSA came to us looking for a way to set themselves apart from the competition. Frank and WSA have been friends for quite a while now, and it was time for a brand refresh. The thing is, it can be difficult to stand out in an industry where everyone claims to be the best, everyone offers the same services, and pricing can seem pretty similar across the board. We had to figure out how to capture people’s attention in a new way.

How to make an effective brand strategy

Strategy is a game plan and a guideline. Every agency does this a little differently. Column 5 Media approaches brand strategy in a way that’s motivated by storytelling and brand personality. We take a similar approach, using a few tricks from Storybranding 2.0 by Jim Signorelli. With this process, we still focus on story, but we also think about if people are going care about the story in the first place.

In order to elevate the existing WSA brand, we needed to figure out what we wanted to tell people about WSA and what that was going to look like. In order to form a strategy, you have to figure out what the brand needs, who the brand is for, and how you can help them meet their goals. We focused on three things when we were narrowing down our strategy: small business personality, product awareness, and creative messaging.

Small business personality is what gives local stores an edge above their competition. They’re able to add a personal touch to almost everything they do, and we wanted to push that in our new strategy. We used language that appeals to our emotions. After all, phones are important to us. Showing how WSA cares more about their consumers than a big business makes people feel a little more secure choosing them over a big company like the Apple Store. We also attached a face to the name, including photos of the WSA staff and using language about trust, care, and expertise.

Showing how WSA cares more about their consumers than a big business makes people feel a little more secure choosing them over a big company like the Apple Store.

Whenever we’re branding a business, big or small, we always take a look into how aware consumers are of their products. For WSA, they still needed to make sure people knew exactly who they are and what they sell. For this, we use a term called product awareness. Before we can start pitching values and in-depth advertisement, we have to make sure we’re covering the basics by marketing products and services as they are. We made a large collection of assets solely about products.

Creative messaging is where we get to have a little fun with the brand. This is where clever imagery and design-focused assets come into play. We’ll explain what we did with this later on.

How to execute your brand strategy

With a marketing strategy nailed down, it’s time to start making content. At this point, you can roam free with the visuals and use your strategy to guide you.

Our strategy broke our brand elevation into three categories, so we used those categories to make our visuals. We used language in some of our assets that highlights trust, expertise, and care to emphasize the personal touch you can only find at a local business. Using images of the WSA staff gives a face to the name, sending home that personal note we were going for. For product awareness, we created a ton of product-focused ads in every image size possible for any platform they could dream of using. These elements were designed to be easily interchangeable between promotions, meaning they can be used over and over again for different purposes and platforms. On the creativity side of things, we used clever ways to portray common phone problems. This gets the consumer thinking about the product and engages them with the ad. Instead of “we fix water damage,” they get to think about it first and draw the connection between the image and the words themselves.

Why Small Business Branding Works

Being a little fish in a big pond can be an advantage if you do it right. If you can imitate the bigger companies in the right ways while still staying true to yourself and your values, consumers will recognize that.

Through this strategy, one of the WSA stores saw a 47% increase in sales over the last year. By giving this brand the refresh it needed we were able to help it grow in the right direction.

For more insight on design and our process take a look at our full case study.

View Case Study ––>

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