Branding is the calling card of your business. Getting it wrong can be costly, and many small companies don’t recover from making these mistakes. Unlike larger companies, the chances are you don’t have the budget to pump into redoing it all. Your brand is going to be what makes you distinctive, it is a display of the character of both you and your business. Branding doesn’t have to be complicated to be great, but it does need to speak to your market.
That is why, when you are first thinking about your company, your market, and your budget you should be taking the following into consideration:
Who are you?
Such a simple step but sometimes it is easy to get carried away in all the thing you want to be, and forget what it is that you are. Think about what you do, who you do it for and what is the message that you want to get across? It might be tempting to take straight to the drawing board and start creating a mood board, but hang fire for a minute. Answer the following questions as fully as possible:
Who are your customers? You are looking to communicate and sell to a select group of people, so think about what they enjoy in terms of style, tone of voice, and colors.
What makes you different? Good branding manages to have a USP built in there somewhere. It will what you are known for. This is going to help you stand out – so use it.
It might feel like you are narrowing it all down a little bit too much. But, what you should remember is that your personality will speak directly to your market, and that means you won’t be picking up cold leads or followers for the sake of it.
After you have built the image of your ideal customer and worked out what they want to hear and see, it is time to write down your business missions. Do you want to make 10 extra sales per week? Per day? Is it about getting recognition in a particular field? Whatever it is, use that to guide you through the whole branding process.
What do you care about?
Due to the massive amount of information consumers now get about products, you need to make sure your business values are aligned with that of your market. It is no good trying to sell to a vegan or plant-based market, but you personally don’t follow that way of life. People like to put their money in things that they can believe in. Start thinking about what you want to show to your customers. Some values to think about
- Local suppliers only
- Handmade items only
- Environmentally Friendly
- Small Carbon Footprint
- Giving to Charity
They are just a few examples. Maybe you don’t want to be tied into a value as such, but if you know that your target market only wears organic cotton, then you’d be silly to not stick to it. Referencing your values in your branding or your sales blurb means people can decide quickly if you are the brand for them. Again, your true customers will remain, the rest will fall by the wayside.
What is in a name?
Well, you might have been referring to your business by a specific name for a while now, but it might be time to reconsider. You are of course free to call your company whatever you like, however, make sure you have tried out all of the possible puns and acronyms to ensure that you don’t make a terrible mistake. If you are still early on in the process, the chances are you’re not walking around in branded merch and lanyards just yet. When you decide on a name, then make sure you have that name across all of the social media channels you intend to use, and as a domain name.
A logo is often considered the most critical part of your branding. It only takes a few seconds for a potential customer to work out if they trust you, and if they are going to buy from you. Don’t waste that opportunity by having something that could be misconstrued, or offensive. Your logo will go on everything that you have relating to your business, so even though you might be tempted to DIY it, you might be better off talking to a graphic designer.
The rest of your visuals matter too. The internet is now brimming with amazing images that you can use for free. They are high quality, taken by real photographers and can provide that sleek look you want to see on your website. Choose images that match with both your values and with the other colors people can find on your logo. This is where a mood board will give you an idea of what the customer experience is going to be. Psychologically speaking, there is a lot that colors can have a significant impact on what people spend or do not spend with yours. As well as some high-quality stock images, you should try and have some more lifestyle images of your product in use. If you are your product, then invest in some great headshots.
Your tone of voice
This will depend on the client that you have in mind. If you are talking to a younger audience, you’re going to want to keep your tone light, friendly and informative. If however, you are talking to high spend investment client, your tone is going to be more formal and informative. Whatever tone you chose needs to be maintained across all of your materials.
Create a template
Once you have laid all the groundwork for your brand, it is time for you to create some branding guidelines. Right now they are just for you, but this will be what ensures consistency through growth and if you outsource things like your social media. If you are looking for some branding inspiration check out this – 15 Inspiring Examples of Small Business Branding.