Branding for Small Business: Elements of a Brand

Branding for Small Business

When I say “branding” what comes to mind first? Do you think of a specific company, maybe their logo? Do you think of a cattle ranch and hot iron? Well, you’re right either way. “Branding” is what comes to mind when you think of a word or a name. We want to think of it in terms of thinking about your small business name. If I told you my business name is Annmarie Gustafson, you probably won’t think much as I’m guessing you’ve never heard of me. So it’s my task to use the elements of branding to convey the message of who I am. Then you can decide if you want to learn more and eventually buy my products or services.

Logo

Let’s start with an element that most people probably think of in terms of branding, even if they are a little unclear of the definition. The Logo. Everyone knows McDonalds’s golden arches, or the Nike Swoosh. It can be a simple graphic, image, or even font. Whatever it is, you want it to support your endeavors of telling that world what you do. It’s often the first thing people see if you have a business card or website, so you want it to be appealing and give them a quick idea of who your business is all about.

To create almost any of your physical or digital marketing materials, you’re going to need to have a logo in place. If you invest in one item for your small business first, get a professionally designed logo. It’s more than worth it’s weight in gold. Sure, you can probably create your own, but it’s going to take you a lot of hours if it’s not in your wheelhouse. And chances are, you’re not going to be happy with it and eventually decide to get someone else to do it anyway. (Trust me, this happens all the time!) Save yourself the work upfront and just hire it out to begin with.

Keep in mind that your logo can and will evolve over time. You don’t have to get it perfect on the first try. Look back at any brand in history and you’ll see several iterations of the same thing. Start somewhere and you’ll be amazed at the amount of momentum it will give your small business and your branding strategy.

Color & Color Psychology

We’ve already talked about creating a logo, but you’re not actually ready to hire someone to make it for yourself until you’ve figured out a few key things. One of those things is a color palette. Branding is invoking all five senses. How do you want your brand to appeal to customer’s sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell? Given, some senses will apply more to certain brands than others, you want to think about delivering the total package.

Working with colors is a great place to start setting the stage for the different senses. Colors are heavily linked to emotions, even subconsciously. White can portray clean, crisp, minimalist vibes. Black can be powerful or mysterious. Red is a powerful color and interestingly has been said to increase hunger cues. It’s no wonder so many fast food restaurants have red in their logos!

When choosing a base color for your brand, your logo, consider the feelings and thoughts you want your ideal customer to have, and check to make sure the research supports what you think, they think! Start with one base for your band. Before adding a second, take some time to look at color palettes are pairing. Notice what they combination of the colors displays.

You may think your brand should be red and blue. If you choose a shade of primary red and primary blue, you’ll see if may look patriotically American, or it could look juvenile like a preschool. Red and green may make people immediately think of the Christmas season. Shades of green and brown may support nature and healthy living. Pinks and white could appeal to women and weddings.

One color says one thing, the addition of a second can support or impede the message you and your brand are trying to convey.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Don’t skip this. I’m pretty sure everyone I have ever known has wanted to skip over this part. It sounds daunting and maybe a little boring. You already know in your head what your mission is. Or maybe it’s your vision? What’s the difference anyway?

First, you should start with your mission statement. What is that your small business is setting how to do? How do you plan to impact and change peoples’ live. My mission is to help busy women entrepreneurs starting up their businesses so they can get exposure and gain momentum while they still take care of mom business.

Next is your vision statement. What do you see for the future of your business? Do you plan to keep it a small business or do you have big dreams of global domination? Think about what the future of your business will look like in the next five or even ten years. My vision is a company that helps countless mompreneurs overcome the fear and overwhelm of starting their own businesses and helps them turn their dreams into a reality. These women set the stage as wonderful examples for our future generations to do the same.

Now the value statement is an often missed one, but again, important none the less. As a solopreneur, it’s pretty easy to know and abide by your values, but it still isn’t a bad idea to write them down and have them to reference. You might have a value to only ever recommend products you would buy and use yourself. Eventually, an offer might come along for you to promote a product you don’t use. You may be tempted at first to take the deal, but by checking in with your values, you’d remember to stay true to that above the potential profit.

As your business grows and you start bring on contractors or employees, or as you’re partnering with people in general, it helps to transparent in your values. Pick about five or less core values that your business truly stands behind. Honesty, integrity, helpful, reliable, consistent, just to name a few that you could choose from.

Resource: Here’s a fun little mission statement generator that might help you get started if you’re feeling stuck. https://www.wholewhale.com/tips/mission-statement-generator/

Voice and Messaging

Beyond your mission, vision, and values you’ll be conveying your brand voice and messaging to your potential clients over a multitude of channels. It’s important to create a cohesive message, so when customers hear from you, they know what to expect. You’ll want to cultivate an “about” message about your company that you can include on websites, social media profiles, or on print marketing materials.

You’ll need to consider how you’ll want your emails, digital messages, and audio messages to sound. How will potential clients respond to your tone. Do they expect professional polished messages with a corporate approach, or do they expect a more casual conversational tone?

You’re going to be connecting with people in written and verbal arenas. Be sure you’re tone matches across all platforms, even though you don’t have to say the same exact thing. You don’t want to confuse people from one place to the next with you’re saying too many different things. It’s a good idea to come up with some standard responses that you can choose from. Again, you don’t have to recite a script, but make sure the underlining message and how you deliver it stays true to the mission, vision, and values you’ve come up with earlier.

Image and Images

We all know that a picture can do the talking, sometimes better than any amount of words ever could. Photos and other graphics you’ll use in your business should again all be cohesive with your brand. You want images that appeal to your ideal customer, and at the same time convey your brand’s messaging and values.

Often, people are really excited to launch a business website only to realize that don’t have quality images, that are congruent, and compelling. While it’s great to use images you’ve seen to inspire you, you can’t use those images in your marketing due to copyright laws. I highly suggest that besides investing in a logo, you also invest in a branding session before creating a website.

To start, you don’t need a ton of images, but carefully planning your own branded images, keeping in mind your color palette, the voice, messaging, and image you want your small business to portray can put you miles ahead of the competition. When you take the time to invest in the right areas of your business, you’ll get the best return.

It’s up to you to tell the world who you are. Tell them in words. Tell them in colors. Tell them in images. But make sure you know what you’re going to say first.

Get Started with Your Own Brand Board Today

You can use this editable template with a free Canva account. All you need to do is fill it in with your brand elements.

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