Many small businesses think they can just hit the ground running: they’ll be making money hand over fist with word of mouth alone. However, you’re going to need a marketing strategy in order to grow at a gradual pace. One of the parts of marketing that most people tend to more is brand building.

Whether it’s just getting the brand name out there or trying to fix a problem, focusing on your brand is an on-going process. You want to remain accessible by everyone while still having a fun personality. This is even more important in today’s day and age with social media. We’ll give you a few tips to improve your public image and build awareness through brand building.

Social Media Is Key These Days

As we’ve already mentioned, social media is so important for businesses today. Not only can it be used for targeted marketing, but it’s incredibly important for brand building. How so? You won’t be able to have such unfiltered understanding of your business. People will openly speak about their experiences. Not only that, but you have the ability to jump on any problems and have incredible interactions with your customers.

What happens if you’re a small business that doesn’t have 100’s of people talking about them on social media? Should you even create an account? Absolutely! It’s just as important for small businesses to become active on social media because it helps give your company a voice. Looking at brands like Arby’s, Denny’s and Moonpie, you get the idea that the brand has a personality of its own. You can do that with your company by getting creative with your posts.

With all of that being said, be very careful with what you post. You don’t want to cross a line that could get you in trouble. Avoid anything that has to do with religion, politics and social issues.

Also, avoid getting into any fights with anyone – if you must respond, do so with care. Make sure you’re helpful if your company caused the problem. If you can ignore that comments, do so! Always stay neutral and just have fun!

Control What People See With SEO

Many people think of SEO as ranking for specific buying keywords and get as much traffic to your website as possible. However, there’s more to it than that – you need to keep your branded searches in mind.

When someone searches for your brand, review website and negative comments may come up. Many people don’t realize that there are ways that can control what shows up for these searches. Start by getting active with your social media accounts. Activity helps social media accounts rank better. If you’re posting on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube regularly, they should be able to rank for your company’s name easily.

If you’re still having problems outranking websites like Yelp and The Pissed Customer, try building links on social media accounts and positive articles about your company. When you think of SEO, there are two things you control: on-page and off-page. If you’ve done all you can with on-page SEO and built strong content, you need to turn your attention to off-page SEO. That means link building. This is something that’s not done by Yelp and could be the difference maker.

Ask People for Reviews

As we’ve mentioned, review pages such as Yelp rank well for branded searches. If you have a small business, you probably don’t have a ton of reviews yet. That makes people wary about working with your company. If you can build more reviews, it should rank well for branded searches and help with your public image.

That’s all fine and dandy, but how can you get people to write reviews. Simply put, you just ask them. When you’re working with a client or customer and you feel they’re having a great experience, ask them if they’d write a review for you on Yelp. If you can maintain a 4.5 star review, you’re in a good place. Whenever you do have a poor review, you need to respond to it immediately. Once the problem is solved, asked for an updated review.

Don’t forget about Google My Business. This is Google’s ranking site and can even rank in the local 3-pack (the map that shows up in Google searches that displays local options). WHenever someone does a branded search, it’s also displayed in the sidebar of the page, making it easy for everyone to see your reviews.

How do you get started? First, you’ll need to create a Google My Business page. Once it’s live, it should be shown relatively quickly. It also means that people can start leaving you reviews through Google. Since more people have Gmail accounts than Yelp accounts, it would be easier for people to leave a review here.

A TV Commercial Can Change Public Image

TV commercials aren’t the best strategy for marketing anymore. This is because most people don’t watch TV live anymore. With DVRs, people can easily skip commercials and get right back to their show. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great way to build a brand.

Rather than creating a commercial for conversion marketing, you can use it for brand building. Catchy commercials still find their way to becoming viral online. This is a great way to get your brand on people’s minds so they may come back to you in the future.

Also, not all commercials are seen on TVs anymore. There are so many different strategies you can use to get your commercials in front of more eyes. Hulu has a cheaper version that shows ads. Many younger users don’t want to pay double the price to avoid ads so you should be able to target them with your branding. This is even more important because if you can catch someone younger with your ads, you can build brand loyalty.

YouTube is another great option. Many YouTubers make their money through ad sense, meaning most videos will have 5-15 second ads. Using Google Ads, you can bid on videos and target your ads to get in front of the right people.

Influencer Marketing Is a New Strategy

Speaking of YouTubers, why not try influencer marketing. This is essentially working with a personality (YouTuber, blogger, celebrity, authoritative figure, etc) and paying them/offering your product to review it. This is an easy way to get your brand in front of the right people because you know the exact audience watching/reading a specific influencers content.

A Brand Refresh Can Fix a Tired Image

If you have an older company that has remained stagnant over the years, it might be time for a brand refresh. The reason your company stopped growing could be caused by the branding or messaging not meeting the needs of your target audience.

What goes into a brand refresh? It could be as simple as changing the logo or could be an entire company overhaul including new logo, colors, fonts, messaging, culture and website. Doing this could greatly change the image of the brand in the eyes of the users. Even better, it could convince more people to use your website/product because they have a better idea of what you offer.

Don’t Engage in Controversy

The last thing you ever want to do is get involved in anything controversial. With social media making everything you say and do public, you need to be careful with how you act and what you post. This goes for both online and offline. Do your best to always help your customers, focus on your business and remain neutral on all polarizing topics.

Again, look at companies like Arbys and Dennys. Their social media profiles focus on meme, gaming and internet culture. They’re very relatable to the biggest demographic of people using social media: millennials.

On the flip side, there are companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-a. Their owners have opinions on religion and politics that some may find comforting, but others may find them problematic. Whether you agree with it or not, these aren’t part of the business and should never be brought up to the public.

Brand Building Is Very Important and Should be Traded with Care

No matter what channel you choose to use for brand building, it’s still an important practice that must be handled with care. You want your brand to appear caring towards its customer, have a fun personality and avoid controversy. While brand building or fixing a public image isn’t something that’s done overnight, it can be done using these tips.