You’ve now got your awesome idea and funding to get your business on its feet.
The next step is figuring out how to market your product.
Before you start thinking about distribution channels and retail outlets, the first thing you have to nail down is a solid branding strategy.
Who are you? And what do you do?
The answers to these questions might seem rather obvious to you.
What you need to think about is what sets you apart and makes you stand out in a sea of competitors.
What is it that is so unique about your product that your customers really need to know about?
If there isn’t something unique (a lot of time, there really isn’t – you might simply be making something cheaper, quicker, more accessible, etc.), you have to think about your edge.
What makes your product/service different.
No matter what industry you are in, you need a selling point, a reason for clients to choose you over others.
Think hard about this as this is what is going to ultimately bring the $$ in.
Who are your clients?
After you have nailed down your selling point, you need to do in-depth research on your potential clients.
The more details the better, as who your clients are will guide you in setting your branding concept.
Who are your clients? What age group? Are they wealthy? Are they trendy? Are they school age?
Are they very active on social media? Are they online shoppers? Or do they prefer a traditional shop front?
What do they like? What do they dislike? Which competitor is most favoured by your clientele? What would entice them to switch to your product?
Apply colour psychology to branding
Before you get too excited and dive straight into the specifics of logos, business cards, flyers and websites, the first thing you need to decide is the colour palette for your brand.
This isn’t a decision to take likely as colour psychology can impact your bottom line in a massive way.
Colour psychology is a study of how our brain perceives what it visualises.
Colours have mental and emotional associations and they can be used to manipulate our decision-making process.
Every colour has a meaning and conjures certain feelings and perceptions, so think long and hard about how they are applied to every element of your branding.
For instance, blue is associated with trust – that’s why so many banks and financial institutions use various hues of blue.
Orange is a colour of adventure which inspires and creates enthusiasm while purple implies wealth, quality, fantasy and creativity.
Branding – Getting it right from the start
Branding is extremely important. In this day and age, consumers are very unforgiving.
You don’t usually get a second chance if your branding is not quite right.
Not only that, you might get harsh feedback on social media, which can decimate your business before it even has a chance to develop.
What are the essential branding elements to get you started?
- Logo: Whether you go for a graphic symbol or a wordmark, your logo is the core of your brand identity. Think hard and choose wisely!
- Colours and colour palette options: After you decide on your corporate colours, pick out secondary colours that complement your core ones.
- Corporate font: Select ONLY a handful of typefaces to be used on all branding and marketing materials. Using too many fonts will make your materials look cheap and haphazard.
- Imagery: Select images and a style of imagery that will best reflect your brand. Stick to a consistent look and feel for all imagery. A good way to do this is to build a library of stock images.
If you need to DIY, go with a reliable vendor
Brand perception is so important. It is what gets customers to commit and trust your brand.
But not everyone has the budget to hire a branding agency from the start.
It is more of an exception than a rule to start off with perfect branding as it does cost a lot of money, even just to get a logo designed by a professional designer, let alone create a website or full branding guidelines.
If you, like many entrepreneurs, have budget constraints and need to try to build your branding elements yourself, go with reliable vendors for design and other branding services.
There are so many DIY design services online that claim that you can create a “professional-looking” logo or website yourself, at a fraction of the cost of a professional designer.
Investigate and see which one is true to their word and offers the best options that suit your needs.
Free ones are probably going to be a waste of time, so steer clear from those.
“What-you-see-is-what-you-get” (WYSIWYG) website editors like Weebly, Yola and Canva make it possible for users to create fancy websites and some even let you add e-commerce through your site by Paypal.
If you need help with the entire suite of branding elements, from Facebook covers, business cards, websites to brochures, a full-service online design firm such as canva.com will be able to help you create pretty much everything with ease – and all without knowing a single line of code!
One thing to bear in mind, though – watch how these vendors price you because you can rack up quite a bill if you add a lot of elements.
Make yourself a part of the brand identity
Customers choose small companies for goods and services for a variety of reasons.
While big companies struggle to keep it personal, smaller firms value the individual customer a great deal.
Small firms aren’t just concentrating on shifting merchandise and consumers like that a lot: After all, people like to deal with people, not businesses.
So make yourself part of the brand identity.
Regardless how shy or private you may be, your business will benefit from your customers being able to put a face to a brand name.
Think hard about how you want to portray yourself and how your personality can shine through in your branding.
Bottom line: Consistency is key
No matter how much money and time you spend on developing your branding, once it is set, the most important thing is consistency.
Make sure you strictly adhere to branding guidelines – this is what will set you apart and give your brand an air of credibility and quality.
When in doubt, have a look at the branding of established players in your market – fonts, logos, colours and other visual elements will look uniform and perfect, all the time, everywhere.
Why is consistency so important?
Because consistency conveys your outlook and attitude and helps you build upon previous successes.
Also, if you’ve spent money, time and effort into coming up with the building blocks of your brand, it would be rather senseless to degrade it with sloppy application.
But consistency isn’t just about making sure your visual identity stays intact.
It is also about diligently connecting with your audience on a regular basis.
Whether it be through eNewsletters, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, share on a regular basis – nothing is more damaging than silence on social media.
This is part of my 10-part series that I originally published on The New Savvy