“A big business starts small.” That’s a quote by Sir Richard Branson. It’s great that you are focusing on getting more sales out of your small business, but you still need to consider that focusing on your salesmanship and conversion rates won’t help you improve your business. That’s where branding comes in. Despite what many small business owners think, branding is not an additional expense, it’s an essential aspect of any business. done correctly, branding can drive more sales and help you earn better profits than before.
In order to build your branding strategy, you have to realize that every business has a personality. Defining your brand identity will help you stay on course and don’t stray from the purpose of your business. In this article, I will guide you step-by-step into knowing your business, learning about branding, and building a solid brand identity.
What Is Brand Identity?
How do you present yourself? How do you want to be seen? Let’s say, for example, you have a specific style when it comes to dressing up. You always wear the latest trends when you want to hang out with your friends. You have a great sense of humor and are not afraid of showing it. Your confidence is your most outstanding feature, and your friends adore you for it. Being fashionable, funny, and confident are how you want people to know you. This is your personal branding. Your small business is just like you; it needs a personality. Fun part? You get to build that personality.
That’s just what your brand identity will do, only for your business instead of yourself. Brand identity will determine how you want your customers to know your small business. It’s the collection of characteristics and elements you choose to present your business and your brand story. Having a brand identity is the very first step of your branding strategy and is crucial for a small business that aims to grow. If you neglect to build a brand identity now, you’ll lose cohesion along the way. Your customers will likely get confused about who you really are and what the purpose of your brand is. You will get more questions than sales and your potential customers will end up buying from your competition.
Now that you know the importance of having a brand identity let’s move on to the exciting part.
How To Build A Brand Identity
Building a brand identity for your small business is actually pretty fun. It’s vibrant and exciting, like choosing hairstyles and outfits for your brand. Although it’s fun, you have to pay a lot of attention to the following part. You have to understand your business, your products or services, your company goals, and your customer needs so you can carefully craft your brand identity. Below is a list of all the characteristics of a brand identity.
The first step in building your brand identity is market research. Market research is a general field and can include a lot of topics. What factors you need to focus on are the audience, your competition, and your brand mission.
In order to run a small business that sells, you need to know your audience. Determine your target market and develop your buyer persona(s). What are your customer’s needs and wants? What values do they have, and what would make them choose one business over another? How much are they willing to spend on your product? How can you turn them into advocates and returning customers? After answering these questions, you can move on to what their struggles are and how you can solve their problems with your products or services.
As you know, no matter what your field of work is, there is a pool of rivals to compete with. As a small business or company, you have to make sure you stand out and define your POD (Point of Difference). Analyze your competition. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you be different? What makes you stand out? How can you persuade your target market to choose you? These questions will help you build a brand that customers would love to buy from.
The most critical step in market research is having a clear mission. You know what your small business offers, so be straightforward and loud in your mission statement. Include what your goals and vision are. Let your customers know what your business purpose is. You can build your personality based on your mission.
Brand Style Guide
A brand style guide is the graphic part of your brand identity. In a style guide you talk about your design do and don’ts so your graphic designer or anyone included in designing your brand has a guide to your brand’s visual style.
Below are the characteristics included in a brand style guide.
Typography refers to choosing the font(s) you want to use in your logo, website, and business cards. There are tons of fonts to choose from. Serif fonts are the classic typography, suitable if you want to look traditional, vintage, or even old school. Sans Serif fonts are a simpler version of Serif fonts, good for looking sleek and modern. Script typography is like cursive handwriting. They give the impression of being luxurious or feminine. Display fonts each have a different unique characteristic to them. For example, having outlines, shadows, or the feeling of being hand-drawn. They are best if you want to be bold and unforgettable.
Colors tend to have a psychological effect. Some colors are energetic and some are calming. If your brand identity is loud and youthful, you can include red in your colors. If it’s important for you to be energetic and friendly, use orange. Yellow gives a fun and accessible impression since it’s the color of sunshine. If you have a cruelty-free product or your company is all about nature, definitely include green in your brand identity. If your brand is trustworthy and stable, use blue. Pink is great for a soft luxurious identity. There are obviously tons of other colors and the psychology behind them can help you choose one or a mix of up to three colors in your brand identity. Just remember not to overdo it by choosing different colors as it might confuse your audience.
When designing your brand identity, pay attention to shapes and forms. Just like colors, shapes can also have a psychological meaning. You can use them in your logo to give a specific impression. For example, round shapes can provide a feeling of community, unity, and love. Edged shapes like triangles and squares give a sense of trustworthiness and strength. Straight lines can also leave an impression. Horizontal lines show the feeling of tranquility, while vertical lines are masculine. Combine the right colors and shapes in your brand identity according to your mission so you can leave a memorable impression on your potential customers.
Language or brand voice is your business’s way of communication. The tone you choose to converse with your customers or write your content should directly represent your brand personality. If you are classic and high-end, use professional language. If you are friendly and approachable, use casual language. Your brand voice is the branding feature that your content creator, social media manager, sales reps, email marketer, and customer support are using. Make sure you choose your tone wisely because these people are speaking on behalf of your business.
Your logo is the face of your brand. It’s the first thing your customers see upon approaching your company. This is why it’s crucial to design it in favor of your brand identity. Logos can be designed in different ways. You can choose a logo type or create a combination of different types to design a logo that best represents your brand identity and aesthetic. Let’s take a look at five types of logo design.
A lettermark logo uses the initials of your brand name in your logo. They are beneficial when your brand name is long or hard to remember. They also have a minimal touch so if your company has a minimal approach, lettermarks can be right up your alley. Although they might not be able to project your brand identity if otherwise.
Wordmark is the type of logo you use when you want to use your brand’s name as the logo. Since wordmarks are basically only words, the typography from your brand’s style guide comes in handy in designing your logo. If you have a unique brand name in favor of your brand identity, wordmark is an excellent option for designing your logo.
Pictorial marks are the first thing we think of when we hear the words logo design. They are iconographic images. The most important thing here is to design or choose an image that directly represents your brand. Apple is a great example of pictorial marks, but since you are a small business it’s best to combine your pictorial mark with a wordmark so people can recognize your logo and know your brand name.
If you are into personalized stuff you are going to love abstract logo marks. They are geometric forms that are uniquely made to represent your company. I’m going to refer to the brand style guide again because the shapes you choose can be used here to build your abstract logo mark. If you want a modern and unique logo full of personality, definitely invest in a professional graphic designer to create an abstract logo mark for you.
I think mascots are a charming approach when it comes to designing a logo. They are fun, often very colorful and cartoonish. These characters can give your brand a sense of approachability and family-friendliness.
Website and Social Media
Your website is your frontman. If you have an online business or a digital product, your website is your virtual shop. Just like how you design your shop to give your customers the vibes connected to your identity, your website should also be designed in a way to scream your brand identity. When you research your audience and competition, you can choose the social media platforms to be active on. Your website and your social media channels are where your branding can bloom and your brand identity is shown at its best. Don’t rush with your website design. Take the time to decide how to integrate your voice and personality into your design.
Business cards give you the room to brag about your logo. No matter who you are or what type of business you are running, you should always have a handful of business cards in your pockets. You never know when the opportunity strikes to introduce your business to a person that might be interested. Rightfully so, your card’s design is critical. My advice, don’t follow design trends. Go for something minimal and timeless. Use your creativity to integrate your brand personality into your design to have a unique business card.
What Is a Brand Image?
Now that you know what a brand identity is and how to build one, it’s important to learn about brand voice. Brand voice and brand identity might seem the same but have two completely different concepts.
Brand image is the perception a customer has of your business. Think of it this way, brand identity is your POV and brand image is your customer’s POV.
Brand image is your reputation. It’s what people are talking about you. Reviews, comments, and testimonials are where you can see your brand image. A successful business should maintain a brand image in line with its brand identity. Sounds pretty easy, but where do these two clash? Let’s say that you chose an approachable and friendly language for your brand voice. If your customer service agents respond to your customers in an uninterested, unhelpful way, customers will not have the same opinion of your business as you.
In order to gain the image you want your identity to present, make sure you have a solid brand identity, use all your channels to speak about it verbally and visually, and train your team, no matter how small or big, in favor of your identity. Make sure the gossip about your brand is what you wanted to say in the first place.
To Wrap Things Up
If you want your small business to thrive, your brand identity, you should be fully invested in. Marketing, advertising, and raising awareness all depend on who you are as a business and what you aim to achieve. Following this guide, you can build your brand identity step-by-step on solid ground. Of course, these are only the most vital steps you should take. So, make sure to always put some time aside to review and upgrade your branding and identity. Plan ahead and focus on your goals and how you want to stand out in your market niche. Give your customers a brand they would love to make a deal with!