Wondering what exactly is branding and how is it important to your small business? Branding is the art of communication that builds, establishes, and differentiates your business, product, or concept. Through strategic branding, businesses communicate their unique value in a way that resonates with the consumer. The ultimate end result? The consumer feels a connection with your brand above and beyond other alternatives. There are many ways small businesses can easily build and enhance their brands. Here are just a few:
Create a Brand Guideline – Your Company’s Constitution
Creating a Brand Guideline is fundamental for your business. This document will clearly map out your brand’s blueprints. Keep in mind that branding doesn’t always mean design-related elements such as company logo, fonts, and color palettes. Branding can also mean tone of voice. How do you want to connect and speak to your audience? What is the personality of your brand? Determining these visual and writing style specifics ensures all pieces of your company’s puzzle reflect who you are, what you do, and what sets your company apart from the rest.
External Branding – Your Visual Identity
Once your Branding Guidelines have been established, now it’s time to ensure a visual consistency to your brand. Consistent External Branding makes sure your target audience receives a clear, cohesive, and reliable message. When customers visit your online platforms, does your business look the same across the board? Inconsistent branding can lead to losing customer trust. Make sure all of your tools used for anything beyond the first point of contact are also consistent with your brand. You wouldn’t want someone to have a great impression after seeing you on Facebook, visiting your website, and then signing up for your newsletter, only to receive an email confirmation that was designed in 1998 with your old address in the footer and outdated graphics.
Key areas to examine include:
- Consistent design style and color palette.
- Use of uniform fonts.
- Company logo present on all landing pages.
- Cohesive social media platforms.
Take Action – Conduct a Digital Brand Audit
Compile a list of all of the public accounts you have established that are representing your brand. Include social media (yes, even those old, abandoned accounts set up by former employees) and any other online accounts such as local listings. The objective is to get a full view of your “digital footprint” and make sure your business is represented per the terms of your brand guidelines.
Here’s a great resource from Smashing Magazine to get you started – Designing Style Guidelines for Brands and Websites.
Internal Branding – Working Behind the Scenes
Your brand image is not just what’s immediately visible to the outside world. It should carry through the entire experience and live inside your business intranet, software, and internal communications. Incorporating software that integrates your brand for accounting, human resources, and communication bring your business brand full cycle and ensures the best experience for customers, not to mention keeping all your employees on the same page.
Some of our favorite, easy to customize software include:
Email Marketing Software such as MailChimp offer customizable templates so you can seamlessly integrate your brand. Leveraging email marketing and automation is not only a great way to keep your brand represented well, it’s also one of the most successful tactics we implement for many of our clients.
Billing Software like FreshBooks help keep your brand consistent to the end of the project. They tout “Send professional looking invoices in seconds” and they’re right. We’ve used FreshBooks since 2007 and love the easy, flexible interface that makes sending out professional invoices via email or post a breeze. Probably the one piece of software we haven’t looked to replace at some point! If you’re not tied to an existing system, or worse yet, you’re sending ugly, unbranded invoices then we urge you to give Freshbooks a shot.
Email Signature Tools like WiseStamp make it super simple to create awesome email signatures for your entire staff, ensuring a consistent branding experience. You can even create clever add-ons like including your most recent blog post or the link to your company’s app.
How LeapGo Can Tackle Your Branding Challenge
Establishing and maintaining a professional brand can be a tall order. Even well-established companies realize that they’ve been focusing on servicing clients and filling requests while letting their brand image become fragmented and outdated. This is one of the reasons I created LeapGo’s 10 Hour Flex Blocks. Do a quick Google search for “Corporate Branding Prices” and you’ll find quotes like “… our projects range from $40,000 to $110,000”. Does your company need that level of service? Maybe, but for the 99% that just need some help you can purchase a few blocks and we can get your brand looking better than ever.
Give us a call or request a quote and we’ll tell you straight up whether or not we can make a meaningful impact to your company.
What are some of your favorite tools that make representing your brand easy? Share them in the comments below: