When someone decides to start a small business, the (ever-so-simplified-for-this-post) process typically looks something like this: You have a concept for a product or service that you think could work as a business - let's say it's a quaint coffee shop on Main Street: Mochas on Main. You then gather as much information as you can about whether this could really be successful. Finally you decide that you're really going to go for it. Somewhere in the middle of finding a property, incorporating the business, buying furniture and all of those logistical things, you realize you need a logo and other marketing materials for this coffee shop.
Whether you realize it or not, this is a crucial step in starting your business. It may seem as simple as hiring someone online to design a logo and slapping it on everything you can, but here's a few things to consider before you start ordering those menus and custom mugs:
Branding Happens. No Matter What.
Whether or not you are intentionally creating a brand for yourself, everything you put out for people to see and experience becomes your brand. You can't just make a logo and say it's your brand. There are oodles of terms we branding nerds like to use for this but let's keep it simple for now. If you're interested in diving more in depth into branding, you can check out a helpful glossary of terms here.
Think about it like this: when someone walks into Mochas on Main, every little thing comes together to create their experience there. Some but not all of that includes:
- Website (or whatever medium they used to find you)
- Signage (outside and inside)
- Interior design of the space
- Look and feel of the menus
- Employees demeanor and dress
- And so much more!
All of these things come together to create the brand of your new business. You may be thinking, this sounds sounds a lot like what I've heard about customer experience. And you're right. They are intermingled and inseparable, but we don't need to get into that here. You may also be thinking, this doesn't apply to me because I'm not going to have a storefront. Actually, it still applies to you, just maybe not the physical space aspects. Just realize that every decision you make that effects someone's experience with your business is directly shaping your brand.
Branding Your Business Can Be Simple.
Before you start getting overwhelmed by all of this, branding for your small business doesn't have to be super complicated. And actually, the foundation of it is really simple: define your brand identity and apply it as you develop each aspect of your business.
Here are some easy tips to start defining your brand:
I like to think of brands as people - they don't just have a face (i.e. logo), they have a unique personality and they have goals and values. Start by picking three descriptors for each of these three categories. For example:
- Mochas on Main Personality: Quirky, Fun and Personal
- Mochas on Main Values: People First, High Quality Coffee, Human Connection
- Mochas on Main Goals: Great Coffee by Great People in a Great Way
Then take these and shape everything you do through the lens of the personality, values and goals of the brand. Ask yourself: does this [window display] communicate our goals and values? Does this [window display] align with the personality of the brand?
This article has only scratched the surface of what you CAN do with branding your small business - whether it's a coffee shop, an A/C repair business or a daycare, the principles still apply. Branding has a huge impact on the success of your business, either positive or negative. Make sure you put some effort into yours on the front-end and it will be the former!
For some more practical tips on branding your small business, check out this post by my buddies over at Forbes.
Looking for some help branding your small business? Get a quote here!