A logical first step in building your brand's identity is to design a great logo and stick with it. Designing a logo is not a job for your second cousin who took some art classes in college. Hire a professional and be thoughtful and intentional in your choices. You don't need to be in a rush to establish a logo, but once you have chosen one, do not change it. You will never establish brand recognition if you keep changing your logo around! You will also end up with mismatched promotional materials and stacks of unusable stationary.
Step 2: Create and Follow a Brand Style Guide
Once you have a great logo, it is important that you establish how that logo will be used. It is also important to follow certain guidelines for fonts, typography, images, colors, and language. These elements are all part of your brand, and it is crucial for them to be consistent and in line with your brand's identity. Consider a familiar brand. You probably could describe the logo, maybe the look of their website, and even their tone and language. Your customers should be able to do the same thing for your brand.
Step 3: Maintain a Consistent Online Presence
So now that you have a great logo and a style guide, it's time build your online presence. This is where many small businesses get it wrong. Your style guide should be enforced across your entire online presence. In other words, your website, blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter account should all look and feel consistent. Small business branding is not a joke, so don't put the freshman intern in charge of your social media campaign!
Step 4: Don't Forget the Print Collateral!
Print can also be an area that is neglected or mismanaged by small businesses. Some small businesses put so much time and energy into their online presence that print materials are just an afterthought. Fonts and colors must be consistent as established by your style guide. Be sure your logo is used appropriately. Your customers should see few stylistic differences from your website to your business cards and other print materials.
Step 5: Live Your Brand
You may be a small business now, but you won't be small forever. You and your employees should embrace your brand identity by living the brand. This may sound extreme, but it's really quite simple. If your brand touts the benefits of green living, then your CEO shouldn't be driving around town in a gas-guzzling SUV. If your brand is all about healthy living and weight management, then be sure to keep your cholesterol in check! As your company grows, I can guarantee that customers will start to notice these little contradictions.
Small business branding doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, but it does take effort. Consistency is the key to building your brand identity as well as brand loyalty. As long as you follow the steps outlined above, you can avoid the most common pitfalls of small business branding.
Feel like you need a fresh start for your brand? Hop on over to our branding and design services page, we can help you take the right steps forward!