Here’s a lesson on small business branding we can learn from corporations in the US. Or rather tuition on what not to do! The depths to which some brands have sunk to promote their products and services around the 2017 solar-eclipse is sickening.

You can read more about the marketing tactics employed by brands on the link. Note the writer’s disgust. I sense this is the voice for most consumers in America. And well, the world really.

Quick example: Denny’s have renamed their regular pancakes, mooncakes in the build-up to the celestial event.

Yup. It’s marketing like this that makes consumers raise their eyebrows, shake their heads in disbelief and totally dismiss all advertising. When you make people feel like an ATM, they shut down.

How consumers feel about brands

Earlier this year McCann published a survey that made interesting reading. Again it’s a US-based study, but I feel the same message from across the pond can be translated here in the UK.

The report showed that 48% of consumers do not trust brands. Furthermore, 84% of respondents feel that brands “have the power to make the world a better place.”

I have talked about how consumers relate to brands for their moral and social issues before. Essentially, customers want to know that the companies they are investing in care about the environment and genuinely look to improve the lives of their customers.

The McCann survey also revealed that consumers feel brands (I assume mostly small business brands) need a stronger identity and a clear role. Again we come back to brands proving their value at a social level. But without getting political.

Small business branding

Consumers obviously want to be assured they are being looked after by brands. The trap many small business marketers fall into however, is trying to make consumers feel like a family.

For example, using “we” to address customers looks and feels like a vein attempt to promote a close relationship. Research shows this marketing tactic only works on consumers that already have a relationship and feel close to the brand in the first place.

International brands that have an established and illustrated presence in the market can use “we.” Small businesses and start-ups should use “you.”

Furthermore, marketers push customers away with too many messages. Consumers want information. They don’t want to be overwhelmed with ads. The Harvard business review recommend small businesses should keep marketing simple.

These marketing tactics are precisely what established corporations do. Because they get can get away with it. But their tactics are damaging the perception consumers have towards small business branding.

Although it’s sensible to take inspiration from well-known brands, it will not help your small businesses branding to mirror their marketing tactics. Be creative. Appeal to your customers. Earn their trust.