Branding: "The promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design"
Branding your business is no longer a cost-heavy and arduous process, capable only by the financial means of massive companies. In today's digital world, you no longer need a large budget to brand your business from the start-up phase. Even better, if you already have a business that could use a boost, you can always re-brand and jump back into the market.
The right branding is key because it is distinctive: it will set you apart from your competition by customer recognition. Having a definitive color palette, font or overall aesthetic style is what drives companies forward. Once you build a solid brand, your credibility and customer retention/referrals will skyrocket.
There are many accessible and cost-effective branding strategies available to small business owners. Let's dive in!
First, you have to define your brand identity.
Branding can not rest upon logos and graphic designs alone. It first needs to encompass who you are as a company: your values, morals and mission statement. Do you value quality, like accuracy or craftsmanship, or is your company customer-centric? There are endless values that your brand could choose to represent- so it is important to pick a couple.
In order to figure out exactly what your business is and who it targets, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself:
How would I describe my company in three words?
Why did I start my business?
What distinguishes my company from the competition?
What goals do I have?
Now, who is your target demographic?
This may seem like a simple question, but oftentimes companies spend too much time thinking about their own branding ideas instead of who they're actually trying to appeal to. When designing your brand, think of these questions:
Who is my ideal customer?
How old are they?
What income bracket are they from?
Are they educated?
What matters to them as customers in my industry?
When would they use my company and why would I be the best provider?
Find your "POD".
Now that you understand your personal values for the company, and what your target demographic cares about, it is time to find your "point of difference"
Your POD is nothing more than a "secret sauce": something that makes your business stand out against the saturated market place. This can be as simple as finding the one thing that you do differently than the rest. For example, are you made in the USA? Are your materials ethically sourced? Are you a generational family business? Do any of your profits go to charity?
There are endless PODs, it's just about finding the one that makes sense for your business.
The fun part: design time!
Once you have a clear vision for your business, it's time to put the pen to paper. Before designing anything, you must have a clear brand board.
Think of a brand board as your companies menu: it has the color palette, fonts and design standards for your business. Every time anything needs to be designed, whether it be your logo, business cards or even a t-shirt, the brand board must be consulted. This is the perfect way to keep your brand cohesive and organized.
After you develop a concrete brand board, you can move onto the business-staples: logo, business cards and a website.
A logo is the first thing your target audience will see. It should encompass your brand board design elements, but should also speak to your business values and mission that we discussed earlier. Your logo should be the first thing that you design, and design well, since it will be a launching pad for all of your other branding materials. Consult a graphic designer to find the perfect fit for your business!
Once you have your logo, you can create your business cards, promotional flyers and your website. Remember, your website should be a digital replicate of your company- keep the same aesthetics and values online as you would anywhere else.
Once you are established from idea to design, you are ready for content creation!
Content creation is the culmination of all these steps. You may not have a huge budget, but the good news is that you don't need it! The world of social media is free and accessible to anyone with internet access. The only difficult part is finding the right content for you.
Content creation establishes you online, giving you the opportunity to show off industry expertise and gain trust in the community. It is also a great way to reinforce your branding, by making sure that each piece of content speaks to the brand values and mission statement of the company.
In order to find the kind of content creation that best suits your business, ask yourself some questions:
What knowledge do I offer to the industry that others don't?
What is my customer base looking for online?
What commonly asked questions does my customer base have?
What might my customer base be interested in that hasn't been offered elsewhere?
Do I offer anything substantially different, like low-price or guaranteed customer satisfaction, that I can market often?
How can I use my values and mission statement to approach the market in a different way?
Once you find a unique content branding strategy for you, remember to include your design aesthetic and logo on every piece of content! It will reinforce your branding efforts ten-fold.
Are you a new business owner who doesn't know where to start? Is your current business in need of a re-brand? Comment any questions down below or fill out our contact us form! We'd love to help.