Ready to get down to business? From determining your target audience to creating a visual identity, here's how to brand your new small business.
Congratulations on creating your new small business! It’s a great accomplishment to put your talent toward an independent business that offers you more freedom, flexibility and ownership.
If you’re looking to strengthen and grow your business, the first thing you need to do is build your brand. Branding will help you stand out in your industry, as well as influence how people perceive your business, products and services.
Once you’ve developed a solid brand, it’s easier to connect with customers and create long-lasting relationships. In this guide, we’ll show you how to develop an effective brand by focusing on your client experience, brand story and visual identity. Let’s get down to business!
When branding your new small business, start by conducting research and identifying tools that will help your business grow. From there, you’ll need to work through a series of decisions before moving on to the creation phase (yep, the logo design!).
As a small business owner, you may already have already done a lot of the legwork, but it’s a matter of documenting it and using it to communicate with your customers.
Use the following branding checklist to get started:
A key factor of any successful brand is having a clear target audience. Your brand shouldn’t speak to everyone – instead, it should resonate strongly with a niche group of people. Before you start building your brand, consider who that audience includes and what makes up their profile.
Are your ideal customers middle-aged with a disposable income? Perhaps they have a strong affinity for outdoor activities and wellness. Regardless of who they are, your customers will have their own specific demographics, interests and preferences. Start with market research into your industry, and then consider how to drill down into your niche customer profile.
After you’ve created a customer profile, consider other brands and businesses that have a similar target audience. By doing competitor research, you can uncover examples of the brand elements your potential customers resonate with most.
Once you’ve determined the target audience you want to reach, it’s time to consider exactly how you’ll communicate with them. By creating a brand story and mission, you’re determining how your brand will make people feel, as well as the foundation for your long-term vision and goals.
First, consider your brand personality. If you’re an independent business owner, it might be the same as your personal brand. Whether you’re energetic, thoughtful, playful or pragmatic, your brand personality will help set your brand’s tone and voice, which you’ll incorporate into everything – from your company communications to your brand story.
Your brand story should encompass all the reasons you started your business in the first place:
Asking these questions can lead you to your business vision and mission statement. While your vision describes what your business will accomplish in the future, your mission explains the reason for your product or service offering, which should hold true for your business in the long run. If you’re having trouble creating a concise statement, you can use a mission statement generator.
Visual brand assets are often what first comes to mind when you think of branding. Think of Netflix and you’re probably envisioning a bold red and theater-inspired logo. For a brand like UPS, you’re thinking of their brown and yellow badge logo that symbolizes professionalism.
Visual brand assets are used in physical marketing materials like your business card, flyers, packaging and more. But, depending on your industry, you’ll likely use them even more on digital platforms such as your website, social media and emails.
When you’re building your visual brand identity, consider a color palette and font style that you can use across all formats. For example, your fonts should be readable in print and online, in cohesive styles that work for each.
Once you have your colors and fonts, you can start creating your iconography, illustration and photography style. These visual elements should pair nicely with the brand personality you’ve already developed. For example, a whimsical brand personality would be best communicated through playful sketch illustrations and bright, airy photography.
Last but not least, pair everything together to create your logo. This doesn’t mean you need to use every element, but some combination of your colors, fonts and illustrations will help you create the perfect logo to best represent your brand.
Creating a high-quality customer experience is the foundation of your brand. While your visual and non-visual elements help create a first impression and brand awareness, the customer experience creates an emotional attachment between your brand and your customers.
In fact, 89% of customers have reported that they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase with a brand after a positive customer service experience. So, how do you create a successful customer service strategy?
First, develop efficient back-end processes that ensure you aren’t losing any leads or clients. Make sure your entire team knows how to communicate effectively with clients by being authentic, responsive and transparent. One way to ensure effective communication is by using automation to send out responses to inquiries, thank you emails, invoices, and more at the right time.
With an all-in-one business platform, you can manage your client relationships and build automations while also delivering professionally branded brochures, contracts, invoices and more. The right system can help you create back-end processes that incorporate your front-end brand and visual identity.
A great brand strategy can’t go far if you don’t document it properly. Even if you’re the only employee in your business right now, you’ll want to have everything in place to be able to scale up quickly when the right time comes. Within your guide, include your brand story and visual elements.
Your branding guidelines and style guide will help others understand how to communicate on behalf of your business and create new assets. You’ll need these guidelines to do everything from updating your website and posting on social media to developing marketing and ad campaigns.
As you start using your new brand assets and guidelines, make sure to stay consistent. That means sticking closely to your style guide and using the same guidelines across all your channels. Consistent brands are three to four times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility, meaning you’ll be improving the chances of creating a memorable brand.
You should roll out your brand everywhere, even channels you may not use often, and don’t forget your internal documents as well. When you apply your visual brand to your standard operating procedures (SOPs) and presentations, it also helps solidify it internally.
Your brand won’t always stay the same – it’s best to keep evolving with your business, customers and industry. However, developing your brand early on will give you the foundation you need to optimize and keep improving your small business.
Claire Bough is a Content Marketer at HoneyBook with a passion for writing about anything and everything. She especially loves helping small business owners learn how to market themselves through understanding how to use powerful resources, industry trends and best practices.