5 Commandments of The (Small) Business Branding Bible

Brands are everywhere and no matter where you go, chances are that you’ll run into brand collateral. Due to the breakneck speed at which organizations – big and small – are evolving into brands, anything is possible. So, maybe you’ll end up running into a hermit crab on a seashore in its very own “branded home”  or get to spend a night in the room of Vincent Van Gogh.

Who knows? One way or the other, let’s look at a page from the (Small) Business Branding Bible featuring the Top Five Commandments that Small Businesses Should Follow.

1. Inspire Emotional Connection

Everyone with even the slightest knowledge of the marketing industry understands the power of making an emotional connection with their target audience. It is one of the main principles of branding, and when a brand makes an impact on their target audience through the right connection, the payoffs are huge.

It is human nature to express a wide range of emotions, so the question arises – how do small businesses know which emotions they can tap for their branding process?

Robert Plutchik’s Emotional Wheel leads us to an answer.

Created in 1980, the Emotional Wheel diagram visualizes eight of the basic human emotions, and provides eight derivative emotions. When businesses use these emotions in the correct way for marketing, it can evoke several different responses, paving the way for branding.

Take the case of a guerilla marketing campaign run by UNICEF. In the campaign, UNICEF tried to sell water with impurities by putting up vending machines that sold dirty, disease-carrying water for $1.  People became curious, taking interest the machines and the campaign. Ultimately, UNICEF was able to raise donations for the cause largely based upon the power of emotion — empathy in particular.


Image Credit: By Machine Elf 1735 – Own work, Public Domain

2. Perform Market Research

Performing your due diligence in regards to market research is a core factor in making or breaking a brand. One of the best examples of the importance of marketing research involves Coca-Cola in their desperate bid to one-up their rivals Pepsi-Cola.

In the mid-1980’s, the company introduced a new product on the market and called it, “New Coke”– the formula of the soft drink was sweeter than the original Coke. This decision by the company was based on about 200,000 blind product taste tests conducted throughout the U.S. The result of the study showed a majority of participants favoring New Coke’s taste over the original Coca-Cola.

Fueled by this market research, the company introduced the product and decided to withdraw the original formula (which was about a century old at that time). People were not impressed by the withdrawal, and protested. This proved to be costly for the company, who eventually yanked New Coke from the shelves, replacing it with the original formula.

Take a lesson from Coca-Cola, and make sure to perform extensive market research across all phases of product development. As the old adage goes, “Measure twice. Cut once.”

3. Define Brand Guidelines

Your business may be taking baby steps in terms of branding, but it’s important to have a manual or brand guideline prepared.

Brand Guideline defines your organizational structure from a marketing standpoint. Guidelines are used to develop consistent brand communications and marketing collateral, and can be referred to as a policies & procedures manual for company best practices.


A guideline covers everything related to your brand; logo, color scheme, mascot, brand ambassadors, tagline, brand voice, mission statement, etc. For further reading, we recommend checking out these famous brand guidelines and taking cues from the stories of notable influence in your industry.

4. Don’t Copy The Competition

One of the best ways to attract your target audience’s attention is by establishing your uniqueness from the competition, not as a carbon copy!

This is best exemplified by the Get a Mac campaign by Apple. The long running campaign (2006-2009) compared a Mac to a PC, and to be specific, the campaign made it clear to the targeted market segment that buying a Mac was more beneficial.

Apple decided to pursue a segment of the audience who were more likely to try a new product like Apple, and not PC loyalists. In realizing that consumers chose PC because they lacked basic information on Apple computers, the campaign was re-designed to educate audiences on the simplicity and universality of Apple products.

5. Tell a Story

Storytelling is a must when you want to breathe life into your brand. When done correctly, a story can immerse your audience, connect with them, spark curiosity, gain trust, and earn credibility, all moving them closer to the sales funnel.

Storytelling>Make Connections>Engage Customers>Build Trust>Earn Loyalty>Increase Conversions>Maximize ROI

For example, GoPro is a brand of cameras whose marketing heavily depends upon storytelling. The company features campaigns based on point-of-view perspective, where the camera plays the role of the protagonist. The video campaigns are so immersive that viewers feel they are in the midst of all the action. Their tagline, Be A Hero, connects with audiences by urging them to take the camera and become the hero of their own story. For instance, this video of a fireman rescuing a kitten connects with the audience on an emotional level by providing a lens into the protagonist’s perspective.

Key takeaways from America’s best action camera manufacturers.

  • At least 6,000 GoPro tagged videos are uploaded to YouTube per day.

  • Like Xerox and Google, GoProing is a noun.

  • 3.2 million subscribers make it one of the leading brands on YouTube.

That being said, try wooing your target audience through storytelling to make a connection that will create a longstanding connection, or better yet, brand loyalty.

Branding isn’t rocket science. All you have to do is look around and take a cue from successful brands (brands you support) that have made a lasting impact on their audience.