Branding is a very important part of every business. When you think of brands, there are likely a few that come to mind first such as the world’s famous soft drink companies, shoe makers, car manufacturers, stores and other huge corporations. Even if your small business isn’t listed in the Fortune 500 (yet), branding can still play a key role to the growth and success of your business. Many small businesses choose the easy path when it comes to branding themselves initially, which generally means going with whatever the person suggests at the print shop that makes their stationery and business cards. There are better options, and you only get one first impression with customers, so here are some tips that will help you to develop a small business brand that people will remember.
What is your business all about?
Take some time to think about your industry, your personality, your business and all the things it represents. Chances are you won’t be able to capture all of this with a stock photo chosen at random by the sales-person at a print-shop, so that’s why it is a good idea to work with an experienced designer. Yes, it will cost more but no, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If you have keen negotiation skills, you can often find a talented designer who can put together a very reasonable package for you. There are plenty of sites where you can interview designers, view their portfolios and find the right people to hire such as Behance, 99 Designs, oDesk, and even DeviantArt. Here are some questions to answer that will help your designer immensely.
- What is the mission of your business?
- What do you want people to think of when they think of your business?
- What type of feelings should your business stir-up?
- How would you describe the branding of your closest competitors?
- What can you improve upon when looking at your competitors?
Be mindful of the psychology of color
Different colors will cause varying physiological reactions, here’s a quick overview of the types of feelings and emotions that can be triggered by the presence of popular colors.
- Black: Represents authority, power, and dominance.
- Red: An emotionally intense color, it can stimulate the heart to beat more quickly, passion.
- Blue: The opposite of red, it’s a calming color, peace, tranquility.
- Green: It represents nature; it’s the easiest color on the eyes, refreshing.
- Yellow: Yellow catches attention (think of a highlighter pen!), but it can be overwhelming.
- Brown: It can represent genuineness which can be good for business, but it can also come off as mundane, sad and wistful.
If you think back to the drink companies we mentioned earlier, think of the red one and the blue one. There are likely two that come to mind immediately. How does each brand make you feel? When choosing a color to represent your brand, be mindful of the psychology behind that choice.
Be consistent with your branding across all platforms
If your business is taking advantage of the countless marketing opportunities that exist online (And you certainly should be, regardless of which industry you’re in), then it’s important to have consistent branding across all of the various platforms. For example, you may need to resize your logo or make some modifications between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or whatever else you grow a presence but you should keep things as consistent as you can in terms of colors and your overall brand message. At the same time, you’ll want to tailor your message ever-so-slightly to fit the culture of each platform and how your potential customers use it. Don’t just post the exact same thing across every social network, that’s a huge branding fail.
Final thoughts on developing a small business brand
Don’t be afraid to seek out expert advice. When choosing a designer to work with, it can be very beneficial if they have experience designing for your field in particular. Don’t be afraid to ask for revisions and to work with them, to guide them along, but also keep in mind that you hired them for a reason and if you trust your decision, none the less it’s important to let them do their job. Remember, if you hire a great designer, you’ve got to trust them but at the end of the day it’s your brand and ultimate responsibility falls on your shoulders to convey the right message.
Image by: stefano principato/Flickr
About the Author: Mary Ann Keeling is a social media manager and business consultant. Her current areas of interest are business relationships and small business branding and she is using her negotiation skills from Scotwork to learn how to maintain a healthy brand for her clients. She lives in Brisbane with her family, where she spends her free time hiking and enjoying various water sports.