A Quick Guide To Small Business Branding
You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 Company to be a brand, but small business branding done right from the start can put you on that track, learn how.
Branding. It’s the power to communicate not only your message but your voice and your values to your audience, your potential customers, or potential clients.
What about branding for a small business, though?
Surely being a “brand” is only for big companies (with the big budgets to match)?
Not necessarily, and this guide will show you just why your small business can play with the ‘big boys’ with just as much branding power.
Small businesses don’t have the same kind of cash flow that big businesses have, so they need to take advantage of as many free tools as possible and there are plenty.
Take advantage of free tools
You don’t need to worry about your budget in every avenue of advertisement when you think in terms of branding. Thanks to online tools like a free printable purchase order template, you can customize your invoices so that your logo is displayed every time for absolutely nothing! This allows for a bit more freedom in your budget.
Become Your Own Brand
When it comes to small businesses branding, you need to think holistically about your look, your voice, and the position you’re going for. It’s easy to want to emulate other brands, such as Innocent Smoothie’s irreverent social style or Armani’s vision of luxury and glamor, but it’s vital that you find your own voice and your own style when it comes to branding.
Once you’ve found your voice and style, stick to it (religiously). Don’t deviate away from your style at all, or you will confuse your audience and lose them.
Branding goes beyond advertising
Imagine you are a coffee shop that prides itself on being eco-friendly and interested in environmental causes, having a minimalist refit with high-gloss plastic finishes to every surface would be really out of character and would detract from your boho vibe. Not only that, but your customers would quite rightly begin to question whether or not you did stick up for your eco credentials?
Small business branding is about your whole business, conveying your values, your ethics, and what you believe in. Consistency is key.
The Importance of Brand Guidelines
For anyone who has ever worked in the digital industry, be that in print, copy, graphics, or video, the importance of brand guidelines cannot be understated. This little (or sometimes large) book or PDF is like the bible for creatives working to create promotional materials, websites, videos, images, etc.
Your brand guidelines quite literally tell your contractors how your brand looks, feels, sounds, and acts. If your business was a storybook character, your brand guidelines would be a full character description and back story.
No matter what size your business is, creating a set of brand guidelines (sometimes also referred to as a style guide) can be an excellent way for you to really cement how you want your business to be seen, even if you are the only person working for your business right now.
There are a few things you should definitely include in your brand below that will help get you started.
Five Things To Include in Your Brand Guidelines
1. Brand Voice
Arguably, this is one of the most important things you will include in your branding and style guidelines. Your brand voice will affect how your audience interacts with your brand, whether they feel like your brand is an unobtainable luxury goal, or whether it’s a long lost friend they love hanging out with
Your brand voice could be inspirational, or it could be supportive. It may be aimed at children, aimed at parents, or aimed at adults. Really deciding on what your voice is, the phrases you use, the language you use, even down to whether you’ll use emojis, gifs, or memes as part of your social presence is vital before you decide on any other aspect.
2. Your ‘Why’
Your ‘Why’ is your brand’s mission, your brand’s vision, and why you operate. There is some debate as to whether a mission statement and a vision are the same things, but ultimately it needs to convey to the audience why your company exists on a deeper level.
People buy people, as the great sales maxim goes, but they also buy your ‘why.’ When we think of any great recognizable brand, we immediately think about why they exist. Harley Davidson Motorcycles don’t exist to sell motorcycles for you to ride. They exist to give people the freedom of expression and the freedom to explore and escape while being part of a wider and supportive community. That’s their ‘why.’
3. Personality, Values, and Audience
These three go hand in hand. It’s important to establish not only why your brand exists, or how it sounds, but what your brand stands for and for whom. This allows you to tailor your marketing and branding to suit your audience.
Taking our eco-friendly coffee shop example from earlier, their personality might be quite a boho, even hipster, appealing to Millenials and Gen Z with artisan coffee and vegan cakes and treats. It would be very out of character to suddenly decide to run a barbecue grill night for seniors where everyone gets a free plastic hat as a thank you for coming!
4. Colors and Typography
Nailing down your colors and typography is another important thing to include in your band guidelines.
Are you going for the wedding market? Pick something with natural feminine tones and hand-written fonts. Are you selling electric guitars? Chromes, blacks, bold fonts, and tough, gritty imagery will suit your brand much better.
Pick the right fonts and colors to suit your business, and stick to them.
Getting fonts and colors right is a basic but vital aspect of your brand guidelines, but it’s also important to include a section on imagery. Imagery includes both photos and videos as well as graphic design elements such as menus, brochures, and social posts.
You will need to decide what sort of a vibe your company is going for, is it light and minimalist, it is bright primary colors, will you be focussed on including diversity in your images? There’s a lot to think about, but getting it right has far-reaching benefits.
Launching a business is the easy part, creating a brand that people can get behind and love is a hard task, but sticking to an in-depth set of brand guidelines and utilizing the advice laid out goes a long way to keeping everyone on track.