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Building a local brand is tough. Even if your business is in an area with significant foot traffic, developing your brand within the community is critical if you want to be successful in the long term.

Usually, when people talk about branding, they're often referring to large companies with a proportional budget for their marketing strategies. However, brand building is essential for local businesses, too. It's what will set you apart from your competitors and determine how your customers perceive you.

Related: 4 keys to successful local marketing

Luckily, to develop a local brand, you don't have to break the bank. Here are five important tips to keep in mind for branding your small business.

Create local partnerships

Team up with other local brands, and make sure that your objectives align or complement each other.

If you're unsure how to connect with other business owners, you can join local chambers or community service groups to expand your network, especially if you're just starting out. Then, you can partner up for campaigns that promote each other's brands.

Another way would be to reach out to local leaders of your community and help them where they are struggling. This gives your brand a social cause and shows that you value giving back to your community.

Simply put, building a trusted brand is much easier when you form connections locally.

Build relationships with the community

Small towns are all about building relationships and trust. If you show that you care about your customers—which you should, since public opinion of your brand can make or break your business—you're more likely to earn their trust and, even better, their loyalty.

To make this happen, you should actively listen to their feedback, be responsive to messages and inquiries, tackle complaints as fast as possible, and resolve issues. All that is to say: provide excellent customer service.

Leverage social media

These days, if a brand does not have a social media presence, it may as well not even exist. It's that important. Especially among millennials and the younger generation, social media is a must-have.

It's also a great tool for promoting your brand to potential customers; let them get to know it, and show different aspects of it. Social media is one of the best ways to interact with your current customers.

You can use social media to show that your brand cares about its community by sharing any local news you think will be of interest to your audience.

Establish a local SEO presence

There's no getting around it: SEO is one of the most important tools in a brand's arsenal to generate new leads and develop awareness. Many of the searches people perform on their phones today are location-based—meaning they're looking for businesses around them to meet their needs in that moment. Your brand should be right there in the search results, waiting to take care of them.

Investing in SEO can effectively build your online search presence and have a monumental ROI for your business. If you do it correctly, this can become a continuous source of new traffic and leads.

Give back

Giving back means different things for different people, but it all depends on what you can do for the community. For example, you can offer to mentor another business owner and show them the ropes, so to speak. Or, you can volunteer for a local program. Lucidpress has a team of volunteers that deliver Meals on Wheels each day to local seniors.

Another idea is sponsoring local events (e.g. farmers markets) or sports teams, which is an effective way of getting your brand exposed to a lot of people in the same area—as well as building a positive perception of your brand.

Aside from the business benefits, doing good for the community is rewarding in its own way. It feels great to get out of your bubble and do something for others.

So, these are some essential tips to keep in mind if you're looking to build a local brand. If you follow this list of advice, you'll be one step closer to making your brand a success.

Want more about local branding? Learn four keys to successful local marketing here, or watch the free webinar below.

4 keys to successful local marketing

Author Bio

David Gutierrez started his career as a web designer in 2005. In 2012, he founded a creative design agency. Now it serves clients all over the world across multiple industries with a specific focus on FMCG and Fin-Tech. David is an active volunteer at animal shelters, where his dog Soul came from. Follow David on twitter: @GutierrezTweets