Local branding is how a business goes from being just a building to a member of the community. In place of hypothetical target audiences made up of statistical demographics, local branding focuses on connections with real people in your neighborhood. Because our world has grown increasingly digital, it might seem like a step backward to invest resources into old-school, word-on-the-street branding strategies. But a study by Small Business Trends shows that 65% of budgets are spent in-store. Not only that, in the wake of COVID’s social distancing, people are naturally seeking out human interactions, making in-person branding more important than ever. Add to that the fact that a reported 75% of consumers have changed brands during COVID and now is a prime opportunity to gain new customers through a local-focused strategy.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through how local branding works and how to practice good local branding strategies. How local branding works — In order to get the most out of local branding, let’s first define what exactly we’re talking about. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, local branding contains two key terms: “local” and “branding. Local” refers to background remove service the scope of your brand’s reach in terms of physical distance. But what exactly constitutes “local” is going to be different for every business and every community. For example, in a big city where you’d expect more foot traffic, your scope could be restricted to a single block. In a rural area, it might encompass an entire town or county/province. Your first step in local branding is to define this scope.
Just be aware that while “local” might be relative, there is a point (say, when it will take your customers hours to reach you) where even the loosest definition of “local” no longer applies. An illustration of local branding storefront mural By Jeff Purnawan The second term is “branding. Branding describes the specific actions that you take to shape the public’s perception of your business (which is to say, your brand). It is different from marketing or advertising, both of which generally seek to increase brand awareness and customer conversion—for example, investing in location-based search engine results rankings would fall into the realm of local marketing. Branding is also subtly different from design—which focuses on visual imagery—because branding encompasses non-visual elements like the personality and voice of your business. With that said, branding will use all of these aforementioned tools in order to foster the ideal impression with your audience.