By Chris Crum

A lot of small businesses are realizing that they didn't spend enough time and resources on branding when they were first starting off. That's one finding from a recent study by 99designs.

Branding is, of course, a critical element of a successful business. You want people to recognize your business and associate it with good things. Unfortunately, this isn't always the highest priority for those getting started. This could have something to do with the fact that eight out of ten small businesses fail.

The study found that small businesses are spending less and less time on branding initiatives such as logos and other marketing and sales activities when they're getting off the ground. Three out of four of these businesses think looking professional online boosts sales, but they don't prioritize it early in the launch process. Six out of ten of these businesses, however, say a company's brand and website influenced their own purchase decisions.

If these things are influencing the purchase decisions of business owners, it's likely that they're doing the same for plenty of other people.

Three fourths of the people surveyed for the study indicated that they believe a professional looking website helps attract not just more customers but better customers.

Still, when it comes to areas where SMBs in the U.S. dedicated most of their time when starting their business, "logo & branding" came in fourth, tied with setting up invoicing, and just ahead of office or retail space and market research. Company name, marketing, and finding customers were higher priorities.

Granted, these are all pretty important. It's certainly no surprise that finding customers is the highest priority by far, but it is odd that branding ranks so much lower considering that the businesses polled largely agree that it's critical to finding customers.

Interestingly, the study found that women invest more time and money into getting a logo and company brand then men do when starting a business. Women are also more likely to believe a professional looking website is a priority. Age also plays a role in that the older respondents, the less importance they placed on the look and feel of their business.

Over half of business owners said they've possibly or definitely lost business because of a poorly designed website, which is obviously a significant part of online brand presence.

The study also found that in terms of industry, real estate and transportation/delivery businesses are most likely to say a company's look and feel is not important.

The Alternative Board surveyed small business owners in December* and asked them which areas of their marketing strategy they would have improved upon when they first started their companies if they had it to do over again. Over half of respondents named brand building. This was the top response by a wide margin.

Even if businesses are not placing enough focus on branding in the beginning, they are clearly wishing that they had. Let this be a good lesson if you're just starting out.


Chris Crum has been a featured writer with the team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates.