Even the smallest business, with a sole owner and no employees, needs to develop and consistently use all the little elements that make up a brand.
In this article, I’d like to discuss what makes up a brand and how to consistently use that brand to create a business identity that will be remembered and trusted.
What Makes a Brand?
In its very basic, barebones piece, a brand is nothing more than a color palette and a logo. Once you understand that these two pieces – so seemingly small – will plant the seeds of a business identity, you’re truly ready to turn your brand into an identity by using the right tools and materials to consistently show off your small business’s products and services.
So, simply, a brand consists of:
A Well-Designed Logo
A Well-Formed Color Palette
If you already have these pieces, fantastic – jump on down the article to Growing Your Brand. Otherwise, stick with me a couple minutes longer here.
To most easily create (or have a designer create) a logo, you will need to have a good color palette ready and an idea of what you want the logo to look like.
So, let’s start with the color palette. My personal favorite place for inspiration and often full color palettes I’m dying to use is ColourLovers.com and I’m recommending it here. On the site, you can search for palettes that focus around a single color you’ve picked, look at full palettes that you can download in a variety of formats, and even find patterns using those same palettes to give you a very good idea of how specific colors work together.
Take some real time finding the color palette you like best, because these are the colors that you will be using in everything in order to grow your brand. How many colors? Aim for a palette of 3-5 colors, no more. This makes it easier to build all the pieces that make up your identity and helps you look much more professional because you have a consistent look that is carried throughout your business.
Often, customers don’t even consciously think about your colors or logo but if they’re done right they won’t forget either one.
Now, for your logo, you have a ton of options. If you’re a designer, go for it – no one will have as clear a vision as you do to create the exact piece you want, using the color palette you’ve chosen. If you’re an artist but not a graphic designer, sketch out the logo you want and scan it in for a designer to run with.
Have no talent for drawing at all? Don’t worry. Perform a search for ‘pre-made logos’ to take a look at ones that you can see and purchase immediately on the spot, or look for a graphic designer that is happy to take your ideas and run with them. Make sure you provide them your color palette and specify as much about how you want your logo to look as you can. Before you actually choose an artist, though, make sure that you find one who is willing to do at least 3 re-designs if they create something totally not what you’re looking for.
Growing Your Brand
The most successful companies in the world (and yes, even in the world of Small Business) have capitalized on their brand pieces, growing the brand by incorporating colors and logos consistently in every bit of their business dealings.
It’s sneaky, actually, this whole business of brand recognition. You’ve chosen a logo and a color palette and simply because you use these consistently, you’re able to develop an entire ‘atmosphere’ that envelops your products and services. That’s why you’ll see a company logo embedded in everything we purchase from clothing to electronics. The company provides high-quality products and services, and that branding is slapped on everything so that every customer wants to purchase from that company.
And having those two brand pieces in place makes marketing and advertising so much easier.
So, how to grow your brand? First, understand that the entire brand/business identity thing is a pairing of tangible and intangible attributes. People can see your name, logo, and colors. These are tangible things. Intangible elements in your brand include things like experience with your company, how the customer has been treated by your company (and/or its employees), and simply how using your product or services makes the customer feel.
If your customer feels unique, exclusive, or in very good hands, your brand grows immediately because you’ve hooked a customer who will remember your logo and colors, your business name, and you can both communicate with them more easily because of that recognition and pretty well guarantee you’ve generated positive word-of-mouth advertising.
Many small businesses overlook all this because they don’t think it’s important to anyone but a corporation. Au contraire. In fact, it’s even more important to be as 100% professional as you can be, the smaller your business is, simply in order to cause no doubt of your ability to provide quality. Even locally your brand and business identity can set you apart from competitors.
Wrap up? You absolutely need to have a good idea of what tangible and intangible attributes you want to bring to the table. Then, focus on them hard to grow your brand.