Tips & Resources

How to Build a Strong Brand Identity for Local Business Growth

Lucy Cromwell
By Lucy Cromwell
26 January, 2024

In this guide, we’ll walk you through four of the most crucial strategies for building a strong brand identity in your area for efficient local business growth.

brand identity graphic

The rise of globalisation, eCommerce, and digitised subscription-based services has made the world feel a lot smaller than used to. 

In a time when any consumers with an internet connection can access a limitless range of products and services from all over the world, local businesses can find it hard to market themselves effectively to the smaller and more specific audience segments they rely on.

If you’re looking to make your business seen in your community, you need to adopt a localised approach to branding and offer something that large global brands can’t. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through four of the most crucial strategies for building a strong brand identity in your area for efficient local business growth.

What’s Different About Local Branding

Before we get into our recommendations for localised branding for small businesses, it’s important to note the key differences between local and global branding and get a basic understanding of the requirements for success in each approach.

When growing a local brand, you’ll be selling your products or services to a much smaller region and target audience than you would as a global brand, which means you’ll need to do everything possible to maximise the lifetime value of new customer acquisitions. 

With a restricted customer base, you’ll also need to place a strong focus on quality over quantity, both in your product and standards of service. This will allow you to offset your limited sales volume, and create more satisfied repeat customers. 

Successfully building a local brand can be difficult at the start. However, the cost of making your brand seen in a local market and maintaining that reputation is usually a lot easier than trying to break into a vast and fast-moving global market.

If you’re able to overcome these challenges, you can find yourself in a much more stable position where customer acquisition is naturally stimulated by word-of-mouth marketing and loyal customers keep your margins healthy.

Invest in Your Physical Store and Branding

While global, digital-first brands are generally restricted to logos, text, and colour schemes, your local business will have a much more immersive asset you can use to introduce people to your brand: your physical premises.

physical stores with beautiful design
Source: timify

Everything from the exterior signage to the choice of music inside can have a profound effect on the way your customers feel about their experience with your brand, and it’s important to make sure these variables are considered from your grand opening onwards.

Long before you open your doors, think about every little variable of your physical store and how they can best be used to reflect your brand identity. This will include the lighting, colour scheme, the arrangement of products or visual messaging, and the policies you and your staff will follow to provide great customer service.

While you consider decisions that could help to reflect your brand through your store’s physical presentation, it’s also a good idea to think about how it can be made to stand out from the current theme of the surrounding area. If your local high street tends to look rustic, consider going modern and minimalist. If storefronts tend to have bright, loud colours, consider something more muted. 

As long as the clash isn’t so harsh that it makes your shop an eyesore, this visual distinction will help to catch people’s attention and create a stronger brand in the local area. 

First impressions count for a lot when it comes to localised branding for small businesses, and your physical store can be one of the best ways to make sure it’s a good one.

Personalise Your Customer Experience

One of the key advantages that local businesses have over global brands is their potential for personalisation. 

While online stores and services may be able to leverage huge reams of data to tailor the online experience to specific user accounts, local businesses can often create a more tangible personal touch in their customer experience. 

Consider adopting a personal shopping experience for customers entering your physical location. TIMIFY’s retail scheduling software is a great way to secure appointment bookings and proactively assign team members based on their existing customer relationships, ensuring a more personalised and bespoke experience every time they return to your business. 

a women booking a person shopper appointment via timify
Source: timify

This can not only fortify your brand identity but also motivate first-time buyers to turn into repeat customers.

Some of the effective ways to personalise your in-store customer experience include:

  • Leverage rewards programs and order history tracking to tailor up-selling and offers to individual customers.
  • Understand local customers’ wants and needs with digital receipts that link to satisfaction surveys.
  • Strive for exceptional customer service and promote quality experiences that can’t be replicated through online channels.

Invest in Local SEO

Even when consumers are actively looking for a close-to-home experience, Google is often the first place they’ll go to start looking for a particular product or service. 

If you want to be visible in these searches, you’ll need to invest in local SEO.

SEO is a broad and multi-faceted topic that whole agencies are set up to tackle, but you won’t need to optimise your online presence up to an industry standard to move the needle and get more online engagement from local customers.

Some of the most effective local SEO methods you can use yourself include:

  • Setting up a Google Business Profile to keep your business name, location, opening hours, and other key information registered on a familiar and trusted source your customers will use to find you.
  • Register in local directories to get listed alongside other popular businesses in your local area.
  • Research local keywords, e.g. “cosmetics shops [town name]” and optimise your site copy for these.
  • Keep a close eye on reviews from local customers, and consider managing your ratio of good-to-bad reviews with a customer review platform like Magic.

Build Local Partnerships

One of the best ways to assert yourself as a part of your local community and bolster your local brand identity is to build partnerships with other local, recognisable organisations. 

This might involve partnering with another local business to host an event like a pop-up market or collaborating on a promotion that sends new customers to both you and your partner. Some businesses may even be willing to promote your products directly, e.g. partnering with a local coffee shop if you sell thermal travel mugs.

Sponsorships can also be a great way to stimulate branding for small businesses, and tend to be less restrictive than finding a partnership opportunity with another business. Local sports teams, community events, charities, and more can all have great potential as platforms to get your brand in front of your target audience andl allow you to give something back to the community that supports your business.

If you’re finding it hard to identify sponsorships through your own research, consider checking out a sponsorship marketplace like Sponsor Seeker to filter down different opportunities and find one that works for you.

Branding for Local Growth

Making your brand known to a small, localised audience can be a challenge, but once you’re over the first few hurdles the rewards of being a local staple will be limitless. We hope this guide has helped you start to build a greater sense of how your brand relates to its community, and how you can fortify this relationship for stronger localised growth.

Lucy Cromwell

About the author

Lucy Cromwell

Lucy Cromwell, a contributor to TIMIFY has many years of experience working in property management and has recently turned her focus towards establishing herself as an authority in the industry. Connect with Lucy on LinkedIn: @LucyCromwell7

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