Ultimately, a small business branding must be designed. A new identity must be created and made concrete, or an existing brand reshaped and renewed. Symbols, logos, colors and graphics are an important part of the small business branding process. Once, they were as functionally linked to the small business branding as business cards, retail store design, packaging design, or corporate identity. Today, these applications often are secondary.
Today, small business branding identity is created for an online world. The website is a primary application. Any new or evolved brand must succeed as a dynamic web destination, as definitively as it exists anywhere. Your web team must be part of the new small business branding. And your design team must be smart about the web, blog and social media.
Brands are living things. They communicate, act and react. Create experiences. Build relationships. But how will your small business branding do these things? What will define your style and expression? How will your people engage with customers and prospects? How will you relate to influencers? And what about web content? Will your writers and designers do whatever they feel like doing? Or will they build distinctive qualities in their work, reflecting who you are and what you believe?
In a world where everyone wants to stand out, style is power. Style elevates you, sets you apart, commands attention and respect, helps people find themselves in you. Style does all these things.
One of the vital things that are required of small businesses to achieve long term success is proper small business branding. A common mistake is that people regard building a brand as a logo development project. What many small business owners fail to see is that small business branding is actually managing the feelings and the thoughts of your customers so that you can be sure that your product or service is what they desire and relate that to a look and feel that represents your business. Today, creating a brand is not just for large and multinational companies, with the advent of the internet, no one can know for sure you aren’t a major player, if your branding is properly in place.
Take a look at these tips for getting your small business branding project underway!
Your logo is the symbol of your company, it is the center of your branding effort, but it is not your small business branding. Your logo should represent the image you are trying to present as a company, color, shape design are all factors. If you have a logo, it can be modified but once you decide on the color shape and graphics involved, a color and graphics package should be designed around it. Logo design and branding go hand in hand, as does branding and website design. A branding book can help you when going to a printer or even a web designer, this lays out the rules for color, shape and other considerations. A branding book makes sure you logo and color choices are consistent and used in a way which is in line with your mission statement and company policies.
It is important to understand that having a website is not enough today. You need to create a professional website that will reflect your small business branding image, both graphically and in terms of color and temperament. If you are a serious law office or an accounting firm, would it fit your brand to have animations and wild pictures? If someone recommends your business in today’s market, the internet is certainly the first place where possible customers will look for you. That is why you need to update your site on a regular basis. Gone are the days of the static websites. People are looking for connections and websites that are active and engaging. They want to connect to your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and see a video. All this must follow the small business branding rules you have set up in your book, color, logo, design must all match. If the client is at home in one part of your business, then they should feel at home in all parts of your network and you business proper.
Your About Page
The “About” page is key to your potential customer’s understanding of your company and your small business branding. It doesn’t have to be long, but it needs to be well thought out and provide your readers with enough information about your company to form a positive opinion. If you are a sole proprietor, do not use the term I, use the pejorative we. A reader should be given enough information here to become comfortable to do business with you. You may want to consider including a feature function value of your product or service, and why it is best to buy that product or service from you. You may also want to include a few testimonials and a short case study if appropriate to your business.
It is also important to have a company blog attached to your website, since the valuable and relevant information found there makes you look like an expert in your field, if presented properly. People now a day’s want experts in the field they are looking to transact business in. With the internet if you do not provide a constant flow of information and news about your product or service someone else will, and they will get the business. The top keys to creating and maintaining a blog are creativity and consistency. Your graphic look must equal the rest of your business network, your customers must know they are on your site as they read the facts and information you are giving them. You must give your potential customers an easy route to your blog from email newsletters, twitter, Facebook, and your website, all looking the same, branded and logo-ed to your identity.
Network with Fully Branded Social Media
Connect with people online and offline. When you meet potential customers in person you give them a card or brochure, right? When you meet through social media you must have your site as branded as your business card, and you must have links to your branded website and blog, just the same. Your social media sites, your email, and your website/blog are you business card and brochure on the internet, take as much care in branding them as you do your printed material!
Have Total Consistency in Branding
I know I have mentioned this over and over, but it deserves mention again! It is soimportant I decided to create a separate paragraph on this topic. There are 2 types of consistency I am referring to: 1) all your sites, cards and offices must look the same; 2) Mind your personal small business branding, when you say to a client that you are going to do something, do it, your reputation is your brand. Remember, when customers experience consistency in look and in action, they tend to become brand loyal. Always consider the fact that the positive experience they have with you will give them good feelings about the company which will automatically lead them to refer others to you. Also remember that the look and feel you have created through your brand sites reinforces that feeling of product consistency.
Pick Your Niche
Now this is a fact – you cannot be everything for everybody. If you are trying to please everybody, there is a very real possibility that you are attracting fewer customers than you actually can. You cannot be an expert in everything. Choose a specific niche that you want to focus on and stand for one single thing. Choose one small business branding identity that clearly identifies that niche, make a book and stick to that niche, in look and demeanor.
OUR GRAPHIC DESIGN SERVICES CAN HELP YOUR SMALL BUSINESS GROW
Small business branding is about how people see you and your business. If you’re current small business brand image is not what you’d like it to be, or if it is not carried consistently across all platforms of your business, you need to find out how to fix it and move on. Whether you are just starting your business or you are an existing entrepreneur, there are ways to make your small business attractive for your prospects and clients. If you need help in this area, we’ll be more than happy to be there for you. May we suggest, take our free marketing review and find out from an expert what you can do to become a wholly branded business. Marketing and branding is our niche–let us help!
BizCentral USA is a one-stop small business resource center focused on helping entrepreneurs grow their small business with over 30 expert services. For more information and resources on graphic design check out our last blog “Top ten tips to help your graphic designer inspire your customers”
by Dr. Thomas R. Reich