The Essential Small Business Branding Guide
Branding is a strange concept. It entails cultivating an identity that encompasses both visual and voice elements to positively promote your company, products and/or services, and be recognizable to consumers. Branding influences your consumer to have a specific impression of your company. It puts an optimal perception of your company into the consumer’s mind.
Branding may seem unnecessary for small businesses that have only one location, or offer boilerplate services to an established client base. However, as a small business vying for local (and possibly distant) business, a cohesive branding strategy will give your company an edge.
A cohesive branding strategy should be a unified front that includes several elements. After realizing all of the individual components, they should be implemented universally throughout your website, as well as in any print promotional materials, business cards, fliers, commercials or digital advertising, and any other marketing collateral.
So, how can you determine the best strategy for your small business branding elements?
#1 Cohesive Branding Element: Design
Your Company Colors
The colors a company chooses for its branding speak volumes. Immediately, before processing the design of the logo or any words, prospective customers will subconsciously notice the color scheme.
Take baseball as an example; The logos for the NY Mets and the NY Yankees are extremely similar — a capital Y transposed upon a capital N. And yet, New York residents (and possibly many throughout the country) have never confused the two. Why is that?
The color schemes are more recognizable than the logos. The Mets’ orange and blue logo is instantly distinguishable from the Yankees’ blue and white logo.
This strategy can work on a much simpler level too. The psychology of colors — or the idea that specific colors appeal to different customer bases for different products — can be useful when determining how to brand your business. For example, gray comes off as a serious, professional color. Conversely, yellow has an energizing effect on the viewer. These considerations are paramount to determining a strategy for small business branding.
Writing For Your Audience
Similarly, the font you select can indicate to prospective customers the attitude you take toward your business. An eccentric font like Lobster may be the right choice for a bowling alley, millennial-oriented wine shop, or art studio.
On the other hand, a private security company, medical practice, or construction company that preaches reliability should choose a more serious font.
Restaurants and stores that sell high-class products often use cursive fonts. These sophisticated, elegant fonts communicate the exclusivity of your establishment, and are inviting to the target audience.
The most aesthetically pleasing font is not always the most fitting choice for your small business branding strategy. Choose a font that conveys your brand personality — and inspires action.
Logo Choice: Strategy and Design
Both your color and font choices, as well as the factors you considered in these decisions, should inform your company logo strategy. A well-designed, recognizable logo that captures the spirit and focus of your small business is foundational for cohesive branding.
There are three main logo styles, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:
- Logotype- A company name with a unique font
- Iconic- A wordless image
- Combination- A combination of the two
While large corporations like Apple, Microsoft and others drive enormous business with iconic logos, this is not a realistic option for small business branding. Having consumers recognize a wordless logo takes years of exposure, media coverage and success.
It is, however, entirely possible to create a recognizable logo with your company’s name and a unique image. Depending on your business, this image can vary from tools or equipment involved in your business, your trademark product, to a mascot created for branding purposes.
As you undergo the design process, be sure to keep in mind that it must be legible, and usable for several different mediums. This means that you should tailor the style for use in different spaces, and create logos in several different sizes. Also, discourage associates and outside vendors from making minor, one-off alterations.
Most importantly, ensure that your logo, font, and color choice are aligned with each other, as well as your company’s messaging.
#2 Cohesive Branding Element: Voice
Tagline / Catch Phrase
Your tagline is the verbal equivalent of your logo. It’s the eight word snapshot into your company that consumers get before ever learning about your products or services. Because taglines are so compact, this language is more memorable and impactful than, say, your mission statement or company goals.
Depending on the size and purpose of the print and digital collateral, the tagline may or may not be included.
As mentioned previously, the tagline must be strategically paired with the logo — it cannot be an afterthought addition to your small business branding strategy.
Consistency Is Key
When conducting regular business, you would want your employees to interact with customers in a certain way. The language and approach you take in all digital and print marketing endeavors should reflect this vision.
A well-placed company voice should interact with users in the way that best attracts them.
For example, a website that markets to baby boomers should be descriptive, with polite calls to action. A company offering high-end services primarily to wealthy people should write in a way that is respectful to their time, and values their money. Finally, an eCommerce sneaker shop should use millennial-focused language, with shorter, flashier sentences.
Take all of these demographic considerations, and more, into account when developing your small business branding strategy.
Most importantly, this voice should be reflected across all platforms. This means that website copy, blog posts, social media posts and everything else associated with your company should speak in your consistent voice. Companies that do not have a unified voice may contradict themselves, and consequently, appear disingenuous.
KISS: Keep it Simple, Stupid
While the theory surrounding how your small business should select a logo, voice, etc. may be complicated, the components themselves must be simple. Simplicity is essential to make your products, services and, more generally, your brand, easily consumable.
Effects of Cohesive Branding
Implementing a successful cohesive small business branding strategy will yield myriad positive effects, including:
- Trust- Having a logo, tagline and distinct voice will lend tremendous credence to the credibility of your company.
- Brand Recognition- As time passes and you increase the scope of your business, people will begin to recognize your brand more and more.
- Raise Conversion Rate- A compatible company name, tagline and logo will help you to see more success on your own website, and in ads, social media, and other platforms.
- Create Higher Expectations– By accomplishing a stronger web (and community) presence through strategic branding, your customers will heighten their expectations for you. Fulfilling them will increase your reputation, and amplify the other effects of strategic small business branding.
It’s difficult to have all of the elements involved in a cohesive branding strategy coalesce into a marketable brand identity. And it takes time. Once you achieve this, however, customers will begin to observe the personality you’ve created.
As a full-service web design company, Logic Web Media specializes in all aspects of cohesive branding. Our team roster includes talented, creative graphic designers who design logos, as well as web content and copywriters who collaborate to craft highly marketable brand identities. We are capable of assisting you in all of your website identity and branding needs, and more. Contact us for more information about how we can help you to establish or enhance your branding strategy.