Local branding transforms a company from a facility into a part of the community. In lieu of fictitious target groups comprised of statistical demographics, local branding emphasises connections with actual people in your community.
Because our world has become increasingly digital, investing in old-fashioned, word-of-mouth branding tactics could appear retrograde. However, according to a report by Small Business Trends, 65 percent of budgets are spent in-store.
In addition, as a result of COVID‘s social detachment, individuals are instinctively seeking out human contacts, making in-person branding more crucial than ever. Add to that the fact that 75% of consumers reportedly switched brands during COVID, and you have a golden opportunity to acquire new customers with a locally-focused campaign.
Due to the emphasis placed on having an internet presence (particularly during the pandemic), local branding is frequently overlooked, and it might be difficult to get started. This article will explain how local branding works and how to implement effective local branding tactics.
How regional marketing works
To get the most out of local branding, let’s first establish exactly what we’re discussing. Local branding, at the risk of stating the obvious, contains two crucial terms: “local” and “branding.”
Local refers to the physical distance of your brand’s sphere of influence. But what exactly qualifies “local” will vary from business to business and community to community. In a large metropolis where you could anticipate more foot traffic, for instance, your scope could be limited to a single block. It may encompass a full town or county/province in rural areas.
The first step in developing a local brand is to determine its scope. Be aware, however, that while “local” may be relative, there is a point (for example, when it takes your customers hours to reach you) where even the most lenient definition of “local” no longer applies.
The second phrase is “branding,” which refers to the efforts you take to mould the public’s impression of your company (which is to say, your brand). Local marketing differs from marketing and advertising, all of which generally strive to enhance brand exposure and consumer conversion; for instance, local marketing might involve investing in location-based search engine results rankings.
Branding is also somewhat distinct from design, which focuses on visual images, because it includes non-visual components such as your company’s personality and voice. Consequently, branding will utilise all of the aforementioned techniques to cultivate the ideal impression with your target.
Keeping these distinctions in mind, the advantages of local branding become significantly more apparent. What better place to begin than in your own backyard if you want to influence how people see your business? Embracing your roots from the very beginning will help you remain grounded as you develop your brand into new areas. In other words, regardless of your size, you should never forget your origins.
How various types of organisations can employ local branding
Essentially, any firm can benefit from local branding, however its scope and implementation will vary based on the type of business you operate. We will analyse two major categories for our purposes: digital firms and traditional enterprises.
Considering the fact that they may communicate with clients at any time, digital businesses, or those that exist solely online, often aim for a greater global presence. Their workforce may even be distributed globally.
Accordingly, the company’s founder(s) are from somewhere, or perhaps the business’s conception can be traced to a certain location.
Consequently, local branding in this situation would entail incorporating the brand’s history through website localization. This can be a subtle touch that lends individuality to your brand, which can be difficult to achieve in the absence of face-to-face contact.
Brick-and-mortar firms, or those with a storefront or office in a real location, will invest the most in local branding. In addition to a logo, store, and signage design, their branding initiatives will incorporate personal ties with customers and the community.
Businesses with several franchised retail locations nevertheless benefit from local branding at a single site. IKEA is an illustrative case. Although IKEA primarily represents Sweden, embracing their origins has contributed to the development of their distinctive brand personality on the international market for affordable furnishings.
Local branding techniques
Therefore, now that we understand what local branding is and how it functions, let’s move on to practical local branding tactics. Depending on the nature of your business and community, the manner in which you execute these steps may vary, but they are, in essence, recommended practises.
Investigate your local community
As with every business project, local branding must begin with the target audience. Particularly if you are a local, it can be easy to assume that you are already acquainted with the people. However, it is always essential to support your assumptions with evidence.
Typical methods for defining a target audience include collecting demographic data, developing buyer personas, and studying competition.
You can take advantage of more in-person initiatives for regionally-tailored methods. This might be as basic as routinely conversing with cash register customers about their life in the community. Because you will also frequently hear complaints in person, you will have more opportunities for communication and understanding than you would with one-off internet reviews.
In addition to engaging directly with individuals, you should consider the community as a whole. Familiarity with local politics and issues is crucial, as it reveals the concerns of the local populace. This also requires a solid understanding of local history and how it has shaped a community’s values.
For instance, Ghetto Film School is a non-profit organisation that enables young filmmakers from the South Bronx to express their own stories, and its branding places the community’s problems front and centre. Not only does it deliberately reappropriate the disparaging phrase frequently used to describe its area, but it also produces a custom typeface inspired by gaffer’s tape, illustrating that something of worth can be created from meagre resources.
Even though they haven’t necessarily grown up in the area, people have a tendency to be proud of and nostalgic for its past. For instance, I reside in San Francisco, which has become synonymous with tech minimalism’s sleek aesthetic. People still remember the city fondly as a haven for hippies and outcasts, and local coffee shops and boutiques do their best to keep that groovy atmosphere alive.
Represent your organisation on third-party applications and regional newspapers.
While your physical presence is crucial, statistics indicate that more than 90 percent of people discover new businesses online, including local businesses. Not only are third-party programmes like Yelp and Foursquare crucial to your discoverability, but also to how your brand is regarded.
You can claim your business’s pages, allowing you to handle features such as contact information, images, and reactions to bad reviews or inquiries.
A professional photographer is an investment worth making in order to present your brand in the best possible light. Responding to unfavourable reviews provides the ability to publicly exhibit excellent customer service, transforming an unpleasant experience into an advantageous branding opportunity.
Local blogs and magazines are another third-party channel you should monitor. To be featured in one of these may require effort and relationship-building. First, conduct research on the publication and its journalists to determine the nature of the information they produce and what they seek. With this information, you can develop a succinct pitch and contact the publication directly (through phone or email) or connect with writers at local networking events.
Benefit from local advertising
Advertising operates inside the marketing sphere, but it also bridges the gap between branding and a sales pitch. Some alternatives for local advertising include billboards and chalkboard street signs. Keep these near your shop to encourage interested pedestrians to enter your establishment immediately.
Guerrilla marketing can be an effective use of your neighborhood’s physical area for those who are willing to invest some money and be innovative. This entails employing unorthodox branding strategies, such as mural design and strange sculptures, to produce surprising street advertisements.
While guerilla marketing acts similarly to a billboard or sign, albeit more creatively, it also has the potential for online virality and rapid local branding.
Finally, you should not forget the importance of social media in local advertising. Even if your followers come from all over the world, social media allows you to demonstrate your business’s daily connection to the local community.
Be involved in your community
To truly shape a community’s opinion of your brand, your branding must extend beyond the store. Advertising can achieve this to some measure, but all it communicates to locals is that you purchased advertising space. Getting your business active in the community is the most real method to demonstrate that you belong.
One of the most prevalent possibilities for corporations to become engaged is to sponsor a local event, such as a parade, marathon, school sporting event, or community theatre performance; use an internet service like Sponsor My Event. Typically, such events rely on donations and sponsorship in order to function, and fulfilling this duty demonstrates community togetherness.
Even if you lack the funds for a sponsorship, you can still hold a fundraising campaign, for instance by contributing a portion of your sales to a local charity. Having a presence at local festivals or street markets is a terrific way to expose your items to a wide mix of first-time local clients, presuming your business is appropriate for a street market.
Partnering with other local brands is another wonderful approach to expose your brand to new local eyes. Consider businesses that complement your own; for instance, a clothing store could form a collaboration with a local gym to sell fitness apparel and offer discounts on gym memberships.
Community is fundamental to regional branding.
Regardless of how the internet grows, local brand recognition will always be valuable. Not only does it maintain a firm rooted in a certain neighbourhood, but it also places personal relationships front and centre, which is crucial given that business is meant to be about solving issues.
People are generally supportive of their local businesses and considerably more forgiving of their advertising and branding practices due to the increasing dominance of faceless, multinational firms in the economy.
Personality and actual acts are at the heart of local branding, but it requires a skilled brand designer to convey these characteristics nonverbally. Therefore, when you are ready for locally relevant branding that feels like home, contact a qualified designer.