Any quality SEO company will tell you that keywords alone won’t help you gain clients. Your message – which includes copy but also image, logo, photos and more – is what really resonates with an audience. Dove is one of the hugest companies out there and they’ve mastered the art of branding. Small businesses and startups can take hints from Dove when it comes to marketing themselves and standing out from the crowd.Add a Negative ConnotationThis seems to go against everything you know about branding. Why would you ever want to put your product in a negative light? Sometimes adding a contrasting implication is actually a positive thing for your brand. Dove does this beautifully: it’s not a soap, it’s part-moisturizer. Now, of course, Dove is a soap, but that’s not what they want to be remembered for; there are plenty of soaps on the market. By contrasting the baseline item (a soap bar) against a better offer (a soap bar that’s really a moisturizer), you’re standing out from the crowd by elevating your product. Why would a customer choose a soap that isn’t a moisturizer? They probably wouldn’t.Small businesses can do this because they often specialize in a specific product or service. You’re not a copywriter, you’re a content expert. You don’t make flip-flops, you design comfortable footwear for beach bums. You’re better than your competitors. In an industry where everybody is selling the same thing, this is a way to sell something different to the same exact market. When you elevate whatever it is you’re selling, people don’t mind the higher price tag that goes along with it – you do, after all, have a premium product.There are two golden rules when it comes to taking this approach:1. Your product or service has to have something that does, actually, stand out – you can’t make it up. Figure out what you have that other similar companies don’t. Not coming up with anything? It’s time to take a good look at what similar businesses are lacking so that you know what gap to fill.2. Keep the contrast simple. You’ll have to continually repeat your tagline or whatever you’re using to communicate the standout aspect of your brand. The simpler you make it, the easier it will be for customers to remember.Make Good On That PromiseLet’s say you’re ready to branch out while still keeping your first product or service in tact. A web designer may want to get into graphic design or a t-shirt designer may want to try their hand at creating matching socks. The promise should remain the same: just like your website, your graphic design is also animation-inspired; just like your t-shirts, your socks are made with green materials; just like their soap, Dove’s other beauty products are majorly moisturizing. Even if you’re offering a range of things, your key promise should remain the same – this is one of the best ways to get consumers to relate a certain experience to your brand.Gather a FollowingEven though Dove is a humongous brand, they still rely on views from real people instead of celebrities. For a small business, real people are the only way to go unless you’re willing to spend big bucks for a celebrity endorsement. Reviews are one of the best ways to gain new customers – if others have had a positive experience, then the customer who’s looking into your business can expect to have a good experience as well. When normal people promote your business, your company becomes relatable, which puts consumers at ease and instills trust.