Your brand is the unique personality and identity of your company that sets it apart from competitors in the same market niche. It’s the persona your business presents to the public. A brand is composed of many diverse parts that, together, capture the imaginations of your buyers. Some of the pieces are tangible, concrete things, but much of branding is elusive—ideas and impressions put to words and pictures. With most small businesses who ask themselves “What is branding?” — the brand is about them.
To make decisions about the various pieces that form a polished, business brand, you will need to know some basic information about graphic design and typography. This doesn’t mean that you have to become an expert or a graphic artist. Most of what you need can be found through some careful research and observation.
Once you have gotten past the initial steps of establishing your business, deciding on the legalities and name, you will want to sow the seeds of your brand—in marketing materials called a business identity—in every facet of your business life. How you display your company’s branding to the world and connect to your buyers is a critically important step , because the clearer and more consistent your business identity is, the more likely you are to succeed.
Finding Your Voice
Your voice conveys the way you want to be perceived, and the way you want people to feel about your business. You might want to sound very dignified and sedate, or irreverent, or flirty—depending on your products. You might want to sound conversational and approachable, or edgy and smart. Whatever voice you choose, carry it into all your messaging, marketing materials, and web presence. Your words position your company in your market niche, and anything you write about your company should do at least one of these three things:
- Differentiate you from others in your niche
- Offer a value prop/benefit
- Reinforce your brand
The Tangible Parts
Every single interaction that goes out should carry your branding stylistically and visually. Here are some examples of other kinds of issues that need the mark of your business identity:
- email (including a signature/logo)
- snail mail (stationery)
- business cards
- packaging materials
- handouts for in-person events
Logo and Portraits
Experience in our own daily lives attests to the power of the logo. We all have powerful associations with the magic of logos like the Coca-Cola ribbon or Mr. Peanut. In an instant, you must capture the attention and imagination of the viewer, and cement the perception of your business in their mind’s eye. Portraits and avatars have come to assume some of the same role as logos for online sellers and social media postings. Make sure yours coordinate well and consistently with your logo and colour palette. Today’s online sellers operate over multiple venues. Having consistent visuals on all your online venues will help customers remember you and cement your branding. There are plenty of books and online resources available for researching logos. Just looking at the best examples can jumpstart your imagination.
The Colours of Success
Different colours convey different moods. Blue can mean steadiness and confidence; red, excitement and edginess. A vintage, nostalgic feeling can be represented by soft reds, blues, and yellows, like the shades of a 1930′s apron. Those same colours could also signal the jubilance of childhood. Bright, clear colours generally signal energy; more subtle or “minor chord” colours indicate a complexity and depth. Since you will not want to change colours, logos, or typefaces once you begin putting your brand into the e-commerce stream, choose carefully. Give yourself time to settle on colours you love and can live with for a long time.
Luckily there is very good advice available about how (and why) to choose one typeface and font over another. Depending on the choice, your business can appear modern, masculine, feminine, traditional, funky, or carefree. You can make great progress towards a decision just by going to look at other companies and find the ones that appeal to you and have a look you admire.