Even small businesses need branding

You’re making the leap of starting your own little business and want it to work. Before you even lift a finger to make your first product, or plan your services, you want to (for lack of a better phrase) put a name to a face.

When it comes to your small business, that means having branding that works and makes it clear what you do; from your logo to your website’s tone of voice. Finding your brand isn’t difficult; in fact, it’s quite easy when you know where to look.

That’s precisely what we’ll be doing in this short post that is chock full of branding tips for any small business.

Know how to find “your brand”

Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery, and a company that copies the look and feel of another one will reek of inauthenticity. It’s a bit like getting Piri-Piri chicken from a local takeaway. You know it won’t be as good looking or tasty as the one you’ll get in Nando’s, so you wouldn’t want to associate with it.

Every brand should be unique and finding your brand shouldn’t involve moving mountains. The problem is that running a business can make you blind to what people think your business is. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a stall at the local market or have a little store on Etsy, you need to have a clear brand message.

The easiest way to do it without spending a penny, except on some paper and pen, is to turn to your friends & family for answers. Ask some to write down their answers to some of these questions:• What does this look like to you?• What do you think this does?• Do you like the look of this?• Is this something you would use/buy?

It’s even better if you’re asking a friend who doesn’t know the brand they’re looking at is yours, as they’ll be more ready to point out any flaws or glaring holes you have. These answers can help you find what your brand is and build a picture accordingly.

Know where the free stuff is

Now that you know what people think of your brand, it’s time to do some tweaking with logos and how your products/website/social profiles look.

You don’t have to be a high-end web designer or master at Photoshop to start giving your small business the right branding. There are some free resources out there that are ready and waiting to use, especially if you’re having trouble making a logo.

Great free resources for branding include:• Canva – great to make logos and such. Their app is even better for fiddling around with.• Google Drive – for free storage• WordPress – for building a website if you know the basics• Squarespace – for building a website when you know nothing• Colormind – great for generating colour schemes • Unsplash – free photos you can use on your website and social accounts

And if you’re hopelessly stuck with design problems, a quick Google will help you find people online who help with branding problems quite cheap: you’re talking £5 for professionally designing a logo you drew on the back of a napkin.

Look to what the experts are doing

Now that doesn’t mean going to the closest shop and meticulously staring at every product on the shelf. All the major brands use design agencies to help create a unique look for their products. Take Pealfisher for example; a branding agency in London that helps names like Cadburys, Wagamama and even Jacob’s cream crackers design their look and branding.

You can look at how the big design companies play with iconic brands and logos to update them or make them look fresh again. Even the big names don’t mess about too much with their looks because they know to stick with what their brand is associated with. You’ll want to do the same with a small business. Don’t go crazy completely redesigning everything. Just give it a bit of personality and liveliness.

Write a mission statement

With any small business, you need to have a goal and writing that down for everyone to see helps get your point across. Most businesses will have a mission statement on their website or product that tells the person looking to buy why they should go with you. You’re not trying to change the world, but having a mission helps. Take this example from Pact Coffee, a subscription company in the UK that delivers coffee through your letterbox:

“Pact Coffee was created to change people’s minds about coffee. We think about it like wine, not flour – it’s a cupboard staple, but one that’s infinitely better if it’s been lovingly grown and expertly processed. We want the UK to realise that. Because everyone deserves a truly quality cup of coffee.”

It creates a nice little story that builds a picture, which in turn, builds a brand. You might have a small store selling magnets or clothes pegs (if anything) but giving yourself a little statement to stand by means something to potential customers.

Know your audience

Finally, do a little reconnaissance on where your potential audience is. Much like it’s a bad idea for a trendy coffee shop to open in an industrial park, see where your potential audience is online and focus on that. Instead of spending all your time juggling social accounts, see if you focus on the older crowd on Instagram, trendy folks on Instagram or an active local audience on Twitter.

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