Small business branding – getting started
Who are you? Why should I buy from you? What are you all about?
These questions are why you need to pay attention to branding.
Branding becomes more and more important as your business grows because the big dogs in town will already have this down pat.
Are you a small business owner or a sole trader? I hope you know this doesn’t mean you can ignore the necessity of solid branding.
You should be investing in your branding from day dot, regardless of your size or infancy. It would be unwise to wait and let it develop on its own – you will reap serious long-term benefits if you put sincere effort into your branding early, such as:
- Recognition and trust
- Return business
- Solid marketing basis
- Increased sales
Why do you exist?
You need a purpose behind your brand. There are a few questions you should ask yourself when defining a brand purpose. It’s best to ask this from the customer’s position:
- Who are you?
- Why am I talking to you?
- What makes you special?
- How can you solve my issues?
Brainstorm your answers to these and create a list of attributes your brand wants to embody. These attributes and purposes should inform your whole brand identity.
It is also important to really decide who you are speaking to: your understanding of the audience is imperative to your brand position
Your brand identity
By homing in on the answers you gave above, you’ll come to a place where you now understand your brand identity.
Now you can make a brand statement. Create a short, two or three line statement that defines who you are and who you serve. Refine it and wargame it with colleagues and customers until you’re satisfied you have a solid brand proposition. Write this in wet cement and refer back to it as you develop your assets to keep you on task.
“Determine who you are and what your brand is, and what you’re not. The rest of it is just a lot of noise.” – Geoffrey Zakarian
Craft a unique voice
A ‘brand voice’ is an essential part of your business’ identity and needs to be laid out in order to ‘feed’ the other aspects of your brand and communicate effectively with your base.
Think of your services and products. Think of your audience. Think about how you want to ‘come off’ when communicating with the market. Now use that to inform your tone of voice.
The easiest way to tackle this is to think about your business as a person. What do they look and sound like? What is the personality you wish to concoct? Are they young and optimistic or wise and storied? Once you have this, use it to inform your taglines, elevator pitches, logos and even colours.
“A brand is a voice and a product is a souvenir.” – Lisa Gansky
Develop your branded assets
This is the stage of business where the excitement is still buzzing and the passion for your business idea really surges forth. If you’re truly stoked on your small business idea, ‘tasks’ like creating logos should actually be fun.
Before you engage any designers or copywriters, it pays to have a solid idea of what you want. Let the professionals hone it for you but don’t come empty handed.
Have a design in mind and have a crack at sketching it out on paper or in Adobe Illustrator. Remember, you’re creating the face of your business, so try and think of something timeless and simple.
Your brand colours are like your fashion sense – it defines your style and helps you stand out. Some basic psychology can go to work here too. Blue is more professional for example while red is passionate and bold. Check the competition and make sure you have a unique look that matches your brand identity and voice.
Based on your now defined brand statement, you should craft succinct and punchy marketing copy to accompany your assets, place on your website and underscore your logo with. This needs to be short and evocative while embodying your identity.
Think of some examples like Nike – ‘Just Do It’ (accompanied by the swish logo). This is a perfect tagline which embodies their sporty ‘go get ’em’ attitude while matching perfectly with their product lines. You can be sure this tagline came about after a thorough examination of their brand identity and voice.
Consistency is absolutely key to good branding. Inconsistent branding denotes disorganisation, sloppiness and untrustworthiness. How do you ensure consistent professional branding and use of logos and assets? With a brand guideline.
By creating a set of brand guidelines, you’ll have a dependable and stable reference point for how to use your logos, tagline and colours in various mediums. Make sure you have rules about how your social media channels, website or physical collateral makes use of your brand assets.
Just the beginning
While no means an exhaustive guide – this is a great starting point for understanding branding while you get your business going. By nailing the above when your business is young, you’ll be in the perfect position to refine and refresh your brand as your business grows and matures.