What is branding?

Branding is at the heart of all businesses and for a small business owner it is no different. This month we have a great guest blog from Helen Kirkby from HK Graphics to explain more.

Your brand is how you appear to your customers, it should underpin trust and create loyalty with your chosen target audience. It enables you to be memorable and identifies you from your competitors.

On a basic level your brand should consists of:

  • Company name
  • Icon/graphic
  • Colours

It extends further into:

  • Tone of voice
  • Styles for graphics and photos
  • Vision/ mission statements

Your brand should be recognisable and be used consistently across all your customer touch points – including internally, for your staff and stakeholders.

Why do you need a brand?

The aim of your brand is to attract customers to buy your goods and/ or services.

Branding is more than just your logo – it encompasses the look, feel, tone of voice and actions of your business. 

Potential customers will look at your brand to consider if you are right for them. They will subconsciously decide if they wish to purchase from you by assessing if you are professional, reliable and trustworthy. So, looks most definitely count.

Your brand needs to work hard to support your business and should:

  • Say what you do.
  • Resonate with your target audience.
  • Position your goods/services in the correct space.
  • Define your company’s personality (serious, playful, kind etc).

Branding Reality Check

Banding is everywhere and we’re all exposed to it throughout our everyday lives. We know brands like Nike and Coke; we understand what they do and what they stand for without thinking about it – we aspire to be well recognised, trusted and successful just like these big brands.

But there’s a stark reality – don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can use your logo everywhere and people will know who you are. Sadly, unless you’re a global brand with an enormous marketing budget this is very unlikely.

You need to think about your branding from your customer’s perspective – will they know what you do when they see your logo? If it’s not obvious from your name or icon, then you might need to consider a strapline that can be used in certain situations. 

You’ll need to keep reminding your ideal client what you do on a regular basis. People lead busy lives and you’re not at the forefront of their minds. So, when you’re promoting your business, whether online or in print, you need to continually reinforce your messages and calls to action. Don’t worry that you’re being repetitive as it’s unlikely they will see all your social media posts etc.

DIY Branding

Whether you’re thinking about a new logo or a tweak to update your current brand; there’s research to be done before the design work can begin.

I’ve seen so many ‘do it yourself’ posts on branding. The checklist usually goes something like this:

  • Research your target audience and competitors.
  • Work out your personality.
  • Select a name for your business.
  • Write a strapline.
  • Pick your colours and fonts.
  • Design your logo.

An excellent checklist, but what they don’t tell you is how enormous this task is and how it’s not a good idea to tackle this on your own. You’ll end up with a whole load of notes that you can’t make sense of and end up feeling overwhelmed.

It’s worth investing in a marketing consultant; they’ll take all the pain away and guide you through the process logically – their findings will be worth their weight in gold. With this valuable information your marketing consultant can create a solid brief for a graphic designer – there’s a lot of work to be done to design how your brand should look, the colours to use, the font, the shape and size. Everything needs to be balanced and reflect your business and work across print and online platforms. It’s a collaborative process and takes time – you should consider the value in bringing in the professionals – I’ve seen so many DIY disasters that have tripped businesses up further down the line.

Consistency, consistency, consistency

Once you have your logo and brand elements – the key to successful branding is consistency. 

Your brand is of no use hidden in a folder on your computer.

  • Even if all you have is your name and a colour – use it everywhere.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a whole suite of branding elements – use them everywhere.
  • Use it consistently and repeatedly everywhere.

Whether it’s the smallest social media profile image or a shop front and anything in between – don’t leave people in anyone in doubt that it’s YOU showing up. 

Remember – your brand is the bedrock of your business – don’t skimp on it – get professional help and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come. And when you do have a brand use it!

Thank you to Helen for your words of wisdom, if you would like some help in setting up your small business branding, please get in touch.

Sophie Comas

A highly successful self-motivated and results driven, senior marketing professional. My passion lies within developing and delivering marketing solutions which make a difference in today's complex digital market place. A marketeer with a strong academic background and broad ranging level of experience working with small businesses and in the travel and hospitality sector, across the Thames Valley, I love a challenge!

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