Branding is no small feat for small businesses – and it’s much more than just your logo. Branding is your WHY, your purpose, your mission! It’s the lingo you use in your writing to the font and color palettes you choose. Your brand should evoke a personality that tells your story while expressing how you help clients or customers solve problems.
The mission of your business is what drives your purpose. Having a well-defined mission statement can show investors where you’re headed and help employees understand your objectives.
Knowing and understanding your target audience is an effective way to market your company to the right people. Marketing and branding isn’t about being the loudest, it’s about being in front of the right people. By serving everyone, you serve no one. Identify who is typically purchasing your products and services and tailor your content, your website, and your social media posts towards them.
The domain name you use for your website is critical to how your business is viewed. Domain names should match your company’s name and the verbiage on your website to create a consistent brand message.
While many business owners not familiar with branding and marketing typically think of the logo as the only branding necessary, logos are actually a reflection of your branding. This is a chicken-or-the-egg situation, where some companies create a logo first, while others begin building a marketing strategy before designing a logo.
Your logo should be a visual representation of who you are and what you do. It should be fairly easy to determine what kind of products or services you provide by looking at your company name and logo, or at least which sector you fit into.
Business cards have become a bit of a controversial topic among business owners; some believe they’re unnecessary and others swear by them. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, you’ll need a way to get your information to people you want to work with.
If you are going to use physical business cards, pick a design or shape that is unusual to stand out from the crowd. If you don’t plan on using physical business cards, make sure you have a plan to share your information, like a template text to send individuals or a QR code people can scan to get your information.
No matter how you share your information, make sure the design of your physical business cards or the verbiage you use to send your information is on-brand and coordinates with your branding and marketing plan.
The fonts you use on your website, your letterhead, your business cards, and all marketing materials that have any kind of verbiage should all use the same fonts for headers and body text. This font should also match the fonts in your logo.
By keeping consistency with your fonts, you’re sending a message to potential customers that your brand is well thought out and professional. For example, X(US) Hosting uses Yantramanav and Open Sans for headers and body text, respectively. And we always advise our clients, and design websites, using not more than three fonts total.
Color psychology is extremely important and plenty of scientific studies have proven that it’s an effective way to provoke emotion, and buying habits, in consumers.
Your brand colors should evoke an understanding of your business before potential customers even see what you offer. Too many bright, bold colors lack consistency and can sometimes be a deterrent to clients who prefer more demure colors. On the other hand, colors that are too plain can make clients feel bored or uninterested.
Similarly to fonts, stick to a main color, an accent color (or two, depending on your business), with a neutral color or two (like grey, white, or black) to keep consistency.
Knowing who your competitors are is vital in creating a strategic plan, as well as positioning your branding. You can use competitor research to help you determine where you’d like to go and what kind of marketing practices you’d like to implement, as well as what you don’t want to do. Thorough competitor research can also help you determine your niche and learn more about what makes you different from others in your industry or market.
Without a strategy, content is useless. Your content should either encourage potential customers to purchase from you, inform clients and customers about your services (or knowledge related to your field), or share updates about your company or brand. Successful companies plan out their content months in advance to ensure the brand message is clear, content is consistently posted or updated, and potential clients or customers feel that the content is useful to them.
How you write your content determines the ‘voice’ of your brand. Your writing style should be clear, concise, and speak to your audience in a way that they understand. For example, if your company sells children’s toys, your writing style should speak to parents in a way that encourages them to purchase from you. This can include emphasizing the sustainability of your toys, the impact your toys can have on developing brains, and is generally positive.
Some companies prefer a more formal, serious writing style (think lawyers and doctors) and others tend to be more conversational and personal (like service-based businesses – hair salons, restaurants, etc.).
The email signature you use when emailing clients and customers should be clean, professional, and on-brand. If you’re able, add your logo, social links, a link to your website, or other relevant information. Stick to your brand fonts and colors to make your email signature more recognizable to current clients or customers. Don’t forget to add a closing remark (Regards, Thanks, etc.) and your name so they know exactly who they’re speaking with.
The verbiage you use online and when speaking to customers in person should sound similar. Having specific ‘lingo’ you use when speaking about your brand helps with recognition and feels more personable. This can include common taglines you use in your marketing, quotes that you think describe your business well, or other jargon used in your elevator pitch.
What does your brand stand for? What is your company’s purpose? By sharing your brand values, you’ll attract like-minded businesses and clients. This also helps create trust, which means customers are more likely to purchase your goods or services.
Having a professionally-designed and maintained website is a big step for many businesses, especially in the age of social media. Many small businesses start out using a Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn, or other social platforms to get the word out about their business. While this is a great way to start, at some point, you’ll need a website.
There are plenty of DIY website builders you can use, but this can also create more issues than successes. Without the professional know-how of a designer, it’s easy to miss important technical aspects of a website that can greatly affect your SEO. Engage multiple website design firms to obtain quotes so you know you’re getting the best price!
While not all businesses use photography on all their platforms, it’s important to have a general style idea in mind. This should fit in with our brand styles and brand voice. For example, if you’re a jazz club, you’ll want your photography to be dark with not a lot of saturation. You can easily edit photos from just about any phone app to make them match your overall brand.
If you’re looking to take professional photos of your staff or your products, engaging a professional photographer is the way to go. They can work with you to help determine your photography style as well. For example, if you’re a restaurant, you may want staff photos that are more fun and creative compared to a law firm, which may have more professional and minimalistic photography.
When you combine your brand styles, brand voice, and writing styles, this becomes your brand personality. Your brand’s personality defines your company and shows clients and customers more about who you are.
Why did you start your business? How did your idea come to fruition? Your brand story should detail how and why you started your company. This can include why your brand values are what they are, information about yourself and what led you to become an entrepreneur or business owner, and other details your potential clients and customers would want to know about you.
Branding for small businesses can sometimes feel like an afterthought, but it is crucial to write down all your branding ideas and values early on to help determine the direction you want your company to grow in. From fonts and color palettes to your brand voice and photography style, your branding should help customers or clients understand who you are – and make them want to purchase from you.