Have you done much with your branding recently? Are you conscious of it or is it something you vaguely know you should be doing? Or do you think your small business doesn’t need it?
Well, firstly your brand is your reputation – it’s what your customers and acquaintances are saying about you and your business when you’re not around. So, pretty important then.
Why should a potential customer choose your business over a competitors? What can give you the edge over your competitors and entice customers your way?
I have a few ideas how to get your branding and business looking its best this year so you get recognised and stand out from your competitors.
Get back to basics
Let’s take a look at your visual branding first. When your print, social media and website look cohesive, your potential clients can easily recognise your business wherever they see you.
When I work with my logo customers I always create a brand style guide for them. It’s a super useful guide which shows your logo plus logo variations, strap lines, your fonts, and your colour palette with exact colour references. Add your brand imagery and your brand “voice” to create a document that defines your business.
It really simplifies your marketing because you know exactly which colours and fonts to use, the type of images and tone of voice to use. Especially useful if you create your own graphics and print.
So create a document, a folder, a secret Pinterest board, a vision board, what ever works for you. And make a note of your fonts, your colour palette, your logo and variations, strap lines and images.
Check your marketing collateral
Granted, you might not update your printed material very often but if you check over it now, you’ll know what needs updating when you do your next print run.
As you now have your brand style guide to refer to, make sure all your print uses your brand fonts, colours and images.
If you are thinking of a new leaflet, business card or roller banner, now is the perfect time to see how much easier your brand guidelines make the design. If you DIY, less time trying to find fancy fonts and images. If you use a professional designer, you can just give them all the info and you’ll get a design that complements your business.
Don’t just look at your business card and leaflet – think about your invoices, price list, quotes, anything you send out to a customer.
Check your social media
Do a stocktake of your social media accounts, even the ones you rarely use. You never know where a potential customer might stubble across you or what route they take to actually buy from you.
Let’s start with your icons – logo graphic or picture of yourself? It’s a personal choice but make sure you use the same logo graphic on all accounts. The same with images of yourself – use a good quality, professional image and use the same one so you’re easily recognised.
Now check your social media banners, including the accounts you rarely or never use. Are they consistent? Are they all giving a clear message what your business is all about? Are they out of date because you never use them?
Finally, take a look at your posts – do they look consistent and cohesive? Are you using images that are consistent with your brand? Refer back to your brand guidelines and use those when designing graphics for your posts.
Check your website
Take a look at your website and make sure it’s also following your brand guidelines – there’s a theme developing here! Your colours, fonts and images should match with your print and your social media.
Use personal images where ever you can and if you can afford it but if you need to use stock photography, use images that align with your brand style. Whether it’s the colours, the style, the content of the image, make sure they are consistent with your fonts and colour palette.
Pinterest is very handy for this – create a secret board and just fill it with images. Then take a look at which ones you have most of. Delete the others. Keep doing this till you see a theme emerging and all your images balance and complement each other and your brand.
Check your voice
Lastly, your voice is just as important as your visual branding but it’s probably the hardest one to get right. It has to balance with all your print, your social media, your website, your imagery, your business personality.
Are you serious? Chatty? Fun? Sophisticated? Which style resonates with your super customer? How do you need to talk to them in order to get them to listen and ultimately buy from you.
You have no idea of the route your customer will take to buy from you – advert, business card, Facebook, website, poster, leaflet.
The key is to make everything look consistent with a clear message about your business. The last thing you want to do is confuse your customers so they’re not sure who you are, what you do or what you stand for.
Following your brand guidelines will help keep your business branding on track and looking its best this year.