At April’s Crafty Business Networking meeting I faced one of my fears and gave my first ever public talk! I chose the topic of branding, as, as you’d imagine, it’s something that I am pretty knowledgable about, but also because I feel it’s a topic that the group could benefit from learning about.
I know it may sound silly, as I have been running the group for 18 months or so now and I stand up to manage proceedings every month, but putting myself in the limelight as ‘someone who knows stuff’ was a big scary step for me.
And of course it was fine, why wouldn’t it be? Everyone who comes to meetings are very supportive and lovely and our networking events are always pretty relaxed affairs so, once I got into the swing of it, it felt just like talking to a bunch of friends about something I know lots about. Which is exactly what it was really.
Here is a summary of what I covered in the talk, including my top tips to branding your small business. (It’s actually the same principles for big businesses too, but we didn’t have of them at the meeting!)
What is branding?
Branding is the way your business communicate with people, and how people perceive you. It’s like a conversation that goes on between you and the public.
As individuals we each have a style which can communicate to other people. Our dress sense, a signature perfume, mannerisms, an accent, the volume at which we speak. All of these things tell people a little bit about us, and help others decide if they like us or not.
Likewise your brand tells people about your business personality. The foundation of this is your logo, but it is backed up by the colours you use in marketing materials, the style of photography, your typeface, your style of writing and so on.
It should create that emotional connection with your ideal customers.
It sets you apart from your competitors. Two businesses selling the same product can come across differently and appeal to different markets. Are you the experienced and reliable business? Innovative and funky? Low cost and basic?
To define your brand you need to know your customers
You can’t appeal to everyone, so think about who your ideal customer is. Having a clear picture of who they are will help you to understand how to talk to them, and also where you can find them – which shops/craft fayres they go to and which magazines they read which you could advertise in.
Finding the balance
When you know who you are and you know who your ideal customer is, you can work on how best to talk to each other. Your brand should meet the requirements of both parties and this is where the magic happens and a relationship is formed.
My top tips
Define your brand message
Go right back to basics and work out your company’s mission. What does it stand for? This is the essence of your brand and everything should be in alignment with it. This could also be your brand promise.
Create a tone of voice
How do you wish to talk to your ideal customers? Are you down to earth and friendly? Sophisticated? Formal?
Get a great logo
Your logo is likely to be your customers first encounter with your brand so it must create the right impression. It is what will make people recognise you in an instant. They may not read the all text on your literature immediately, but they will see your logo. The first few times someone sees your message its likely it won’t completely register with them. We all have marketing blinkers we’ve built up over time – otherwise we’d be overwhelmed with the constant noise from businesses shouting to be heard.
Expand your brand
Choose a handful of colours that will work together.
Use a particular typeface. You may like to use one for headings and one for body text.
Create a template for your marketing materials. A good designer will ensure the template is flexible enough to not get boring, but consistent enough to be quickly recognisable.
Your identity doesn’t have to be fancy for it to have impact, as long as it is consistent.
Use your logo, your colours, typeface etc. on your website and all your printed materials. Absolutely EVERYTHING!
If your branding is consistent throughout all your communications then you give your customers a seamless experience – from visiting you on Facebook, looking at your website, right through to visiting your shop and meeting you in person where you can give them a brochure of your products.
Consistency builds trust with your audience. You may think that having everything look so similar is boring, but this is because you see it all the time. Your customers wont see it nearly as much as you, so to ensure you’re easily recognised by your customers stick with it!
Stay true to your brand!
Once you have these key points worked out it’s easy to stay on track and create brilliant communications which will lead to customer trust, interaction and of course, sales!
If you have any questions, or you’d like to me to help you create a great brand, drop me a line and let’s talk!