Many small business owners I meet with say they are ready to create their brand. But in most cases they already have a brand– they just don’t know it. And tragically (for their business and bottom line) their incidental brand is probably not the image they want to project to customers.
Branding or rebranding is no small task. Last year after celebrating our 10th year in business we took our own advice and examined our brand, refined our message, adopted a consistent look and feel, and expanded through digital media. Although it’s best to start out with a winning strategy, it’s never too late to implement a plan and brand your business with intent… rather than live with the one you obtained by default.
HOW SHOULD I USE MY BRAND?
Create a Logo. Your logo helps create and reinforce brand awareness. Too often the small business owner doesn’t think about it until they need a business card, a sign or web site. Your logo is NOT your brand, but it should allow your brand to be instantly recognized. (If you have the budget, hire a professional designer. I did!)
Be Consistent. Your branding needs to be consistent in everything you produce. Everything! Letter. Business cards. Advertising. On the front door. Everything!
Your logo usage must be consistent! I like using a style guide (Example: DO NOT stretch the logo in your PPT presentations!). Know correct usage for your over all brand and protect it.
Marketing and Promotion of Your Brand. This is how you establish your credibility and relevance. By pushing your brand while selling, your brand becomes synonymous with your products and services. And vice versa.
- Create a business system—business cards, letterhead, brochure, and other marketing collateral.A business card is still one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to network and market your business.
- Create a digital presence—professional business profile, social media pages AND a web site with search engine optimization (SEO).No matter what your business is, customers want to find you online. Mobile web sites are becoming standard and the mobile app market is growing. When developing a new website keep these trends in mind and plan your branding strategy accordingly. Most buying decisions are researched online, so make sure you are in the game.
- Set up a company-branded email. This sounds obvious, but it gives you instant legitimacy. You’ll have a professional image, you will promote your business and build brand awareness with every email you send, and you will make it easier for customers to find your website.
- Protect your business ideas (copyright, trademark, and patents.). It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, so it’s only good business sense to own everything about your business.
I hope you were thinking about your own business brand. Is there room for improvement? No worries. It’s never too late (or too early) to start building a better brand. Lets get started!
See Haley’s branding portfolio here!
Haley Lewis is the design director with Lewis Creative specializing in branding, communication strategy and graphic design. She is an accomplished art director, design diva and serial entrepreneur. Creating a strong visual presence for any business is her passion. From traditional branding, marketing and advertising design to broadcast and social media. She listens, conceptualizes and makes your ideas look and work better than you ever thought possible. A graphic designer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart, she believes every business deserves great design and brings passion and the “what if” to every project.