9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses

Think branding is only for large multi-national corporations? Think again. Here are 9 easy tips you can use to grow your brand with your customers.

  1. The design of your logo really doesn’t matter. Would you choose MSN as your search engine over Google because of their logo? No, having a nice professional logo is great, but it very rarely increases sales. I’m all for a professional logo, but don’t think you need to spend a fortune on it. It’s more important to include your logo on every piece of communication. Put it on business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices, yellow page ads, building signage, newsletters, etc…

  2. Have a professional website. It’s not just good enough to just have a website, you must reflect your brand image. If your known as a top notch photographer, the last thing you want is a website designed 10 years ago. It doesn’t reflect well on you. Everyone, yes everyone, uses the web today to check references. If someone recommends your service, you can almost guarantee that they will go online to look for you. Your website design should be updated at least every two years to stay current.

  3. Blogs are good. Blogs help your business on multiple levels. First off, valuable content on a consistent basis will make you look like an expert. People are looking for experts, not apprentices. The software that powers blogs has multiple advantages. It’s very easy to publish. It’s a database driven environment where style is separate from content so you will not need to go back to your web design agency for every little change. And use of tags and sitemaps make basic search engine optimization easy. But the real reason blogs are great is that they enable conversation. Two-way dialog is much more valuable than a company that just dumps messaging and collateral on their customers.

  4. Blogs are good, but they’re just one tool. A blog should not be your sole marketing strategy. You should have a comprehensive multi-touch marketing plan to get your value proposition in front of your target audience. This can take many forms. You can launch a direct mail campaign, email campaign, host a webinar, sponsor a local event, attend a trade show, attend networking events, cold call prospects, win awards, etc… There are a thousand different ways for you to be noticed. You have to find the best combination of methods for your strategic goals. Data shows that people need to be exposed to a brand at least seven times before they buy. If you simply do one touch and stop, you’re wasting valuable budget dollars and probably wondering why your efforts are not successful.

  5. Prepare a one page corporate overview. This one pager will be vital as a leave behind when you meet a prospect. Use short sentences in short paragraphs – people like to read quickly. Also make it very conversational; it’s not a white paper. Your one page overview should include your value proposition, target audience benefits, previous audience experience and a mini-case study – and don’t forget your contact information.

  6. Participate in local business events. And by participate, I mean be on a committee. Just showing up at events is great, but you’re just a face in the crowd. Ask to be on one of the committees. Believe it or not, it’s as simple as just asking most of time. Groups are looking for volunteer help and it’s a great way to elevate your status and visibility among the entire organization.

  7. Do what you say you’re going to do. I know it may sound like common sense, but one of the primary drivers of brand loyalty is a consistent experience. If you say you’re going to have the photographs ready on a set day, be sure they are ready. Nothing leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth like missed expectations. Positive experiences lead to good feelings which lead to telling their friends. But don’t forget that bad experiences spread much faster and are harder to overcome – if you get a chance at all.

  8. Stand for something. People latch on to something they can understand and appreciate. If you’re trying to be everything to everybody, chances are you’ll attract no one. If you think it’s too controversial to choose a niche, remember the power of being seen as an expert. Experts are not good at everything, they’re awesome at one thing. This allows you to better position yourself and charge more for your services. People seek out experts, not generalists.

  9. Realize that you’re not in control of your brand. That’s right, you only set the direction for your brand. Your actual brand image is determined by your audience. You can use these tips to ensure alignment between your desired brand image and your actual brand image in the minds of your customers. Branding isn’t a one shot deal, it’s an on-going juggling act of marketing, research and conversation. If you’re not tapping into those conversations with your audience, how do you know what their real impression of you is? How will you know how to address it? Brand growth comes from alignment. You have to ensure that your actions, stationary, website and marketing efforts put out the right image. But you cannot stop there; Those are pre-sales activities that get you noticed and hopefully bought. You also have to ensure that all actions and engagements during the sale and post-sale are positive and in line with your desired brand image. If your audience has a different view of you than you’d like, then you need help. And it’s probably best to bring in an outside perspective.
  10. BONUS TIP #10: Branding is as much about your people as anything else. Never forget that the best interactions come from one-on-one conversations between executives, employees, suppliers, and customers. Employees that want to help and do the best job possible go a long way.

Proper branding is critical to your long term success. A lot of people think of branding as logo development. But in reality, branding is managing the thoughts and feelings of your customers to ensure that you are what they desire. If your desired brand image isn’t what’s in the minds of your target audience, you’ve got to figure out where the gaps are and how to address them. And fixing those issues is hard work because the old adage still rings true – the customer is always right.

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Author: Nick Rice (19 Articles)

Nick Rice is a visionary accomplished marketing coach that works with successful service business owners who yearn to take their business to the next level yet struggle to attract more clients. Nick is the co-author of "The Age of Conversation", an Expert Blogger for Fast Company magazine, and authors an AdAge Power150 blog on the topic of marketing and branding. Download his free report, "7 Principles of Attracting More Clients," at www.nick-rice.com

Comments

  1. Nick:

    I like your list…it’s a great place to focus clients on the concept of brand.

    I think your first point about the logo, however was a little too simple, probably in an eager attempt to keep people from thinking that a new logo means they’ve “been rebranded” – which most people need to understand. While a logo probably won’t make a sale, it needs to reflect the brand as well as your website or any other point of contact with the customers. Maybe it should read “your logo is not your brand.”

    And I’d love to see number 9 be listed as number 1. That’s the most important point to get across to any organization, in my opinion.

    Keep banging the brand drum!

    Regards,
    Mark

  2. Hello Nick,

    You list some great points, although I have to disagree with you on the first one, and I feel that you contradict yourself between points one and two.

    In point number two you quote:

    “If your known as a top notch photographer, the last thing you want is a website designed 10 years ago.”

    Take this thought and apply it to a top notch graphic designer. How can she market herself to the best of her ability by thinking that the design of her logo really doesn’t matter?

    I agree that you don’t one business over another because of a logo. A logo is simply one part of your brand, but it’s an important part that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

    Ideally your logo design should be:

    1. Emotive
    2. Describable
    3. Memorable

    If you achieve these three basic principles you will help brand recognition.

    Apart from that you wrote a great post.

  3. Please excuse my hastily written response.

    For, “I agree that you don’t one business over another…” read, “I agree that you don’t choose one business over another…”

  4. David, there is a difference between the logo and the overall website design. This site is a perfect example. We basically don’t have a logo, but because there is valuable content in an easy-to-read layout, people keep coming back. The overall design of your site reflects how in touch you are with current trends and technologies. If you’re still using frames, tables and animated spinning logos, you’re out of touch with current best practices and that reflects badly on you – regardless of what the logo in the corner looks like. Your business logo typically has little to do with your website design. It may influence the color palette and in rare cases be the inspiration for certain design cues – think of Coke’s swoopy logo and integrating a swoop on the page – but your logo doesn’t dictate the layout, technology or usability.

    I agree, if your business is design, then it’s a different story. That would be like a architect that works out of a rundown office. It’s out of alignment.

    Mark was inline with my thoughts, your logo is not your brand. It does play a huge role in brand recognition, but that’s more about consistency and frequency than the design.

    I’m not sure if a logo needs to be emotive. Most of the big brand logos that I can think of are not (Nike, Starbucks, McDonalds, GE, IBM, Adobe, GM, VW, etc…). There are personal emotions associated with each brand built from conversations with friends, company reps, etc… Those emotions can vary widely among groups. But if you were just exposed to their logo without any previous brand perception, their logo wouldn’t elicit an emotional response. I’d love to hear your take.

  5. Nick, those logos you mentioned can have an emotive aspect attached to them, regardless of whether or not the onlooker is familiar with the brand. Most are designed in colour and you don’t need me to talk about the emotional aspect of that.

    Think about the Nike logo – the swoosh that represents the wing of the Greek goddess Nike, the personification of victory.

    While it’s probably safe to say that the majority of people are unaware of its mythological significance, their logo holds just as much meaning as their name.

    Another example you mention, IBM – the horizontal stripes used are meant to signify speed / dynamism. It provokes more of a thought of speed the way it is now than back in the 70s when the characters were solid. Still a bad logo though with no real idea behind it.

    By no means am I saying that your examples are good logos. The companies you mention are brand masters, no doubt about it, and I fully agree that a logo is part of a brand. Some of them have poor logos because a redesign would be damaging, as you well know. In fact I think the logos of IBM, VW, GM and others you mention are horrible. Particularly that of Starbucks – I don’t know what they were thinking. Speaking of the Starbucks logo however, the two-tailed mermaid was used to signify a seductiveness, and there’s your emotive aspect. It might not work, but it’s there.

    The story behind VW’s logo gives a picture of why it’s bad: It was the result of an office competition to see who could come up with a logo and the winner was an VW engineer (the same man who perfected the engine for the Beetle in the 1930’s). Great brand, poor logo.

    The reason I disagreed with your point in the first place is because if more people were to spend time and money on their logo at the outset then there’d be no need for a costly re-design at some point in the future. There would also be less ugly design in the world.

    BP’s redesign cost them millions, and this was because they wanted to give the viewer an emotive response of organic cleanliness. You might argue that their old shield logo was more symbolic of an environmental pressure group, giving their brand some positive energy, but that’s another topic altogether.

    For the record, I think BPs new logo is rubbish.

  6. I agree with both of you. And trust me, I work in a marketing communications/branding firm, so I’m with you when it comes to professional design – it’s my livelihood. We get a lot of clients and potential clients that misunderstand the effect a logo has on branding. For a lot of people, it’s very much about “change my logo and everything will be fixed.” And that’s just not true.

    Redesigning a logo can be a very touchy topic. If you build a strong brand name with a bad logo, a redesign can actually damage your image – or at least cast doubt. People in general don’t like change.

    I guess the moral of the story is to always start with a strong well designed mark that isn’t too trendy or narrowly-focused. It’s pretty easy to evolve a logo over time. Many firms have done it successfully (Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds, GE – come to think of it, most of the firms I originally mentioned).

    I’m really enjoying the conversation. This is the beauty of social media.

  7. Amen, Nick. To all of the above. In particular, though, my mantra (and at this point i should have it tattoed on my forehead) “perception is reality.” that’s both the good news and the bad news. the good news is that we are all in control of how we are perceived, and that’s where individual branding plays such a critical role. nothing is arbitrary/leave nothing to chance!

  8. Lyn, you’re absolutely correct. Someone’s brand impression of you can come from any encounter. And the funny thing is that you do not even have to be personally involved. Think about the last time a friend slammed a restaurant before you had a chance to go. If you respect their opinion, that restaurant just dropped a few notches in your mind and you’ve never set foot in the door. B2B service providers are no different. A positive referral is almost priceless – and any given encounter can help make that happen if you take the opportunity to make each one a positive experience.

  9. I’m glad you put this together Nick. I’m just trying to start out with my own company and these are some great pointers to keep in mind.

  10. Terrific discussion on the importance of a well designed logo.

    A logo in the hands of a professional CAN increase sales. I have on many occasions had customers who previously had amateur logos to start their businesses, now express delight that the new image positioned them in a better light with prospects. And this resulted in more business because of the perception that they were larger players in their market.

    A client I saw today as a matter fact mentioned that since the brand logo was launched, they have seen there market share increase and loves the fact that people finally associate it with quality. The intended positioning is working. And guess what – this equals increased sales.

    Let’s face it designers can take your company and make you look like you’re 10 or 50 years old. We can instill confidence through design. It’s not magic what we do, but hard work and the result of many years of experience.

    Look at a local level. Let’s take two restaurants in a commercial plaza. One has a home-made image and the other in professionally designed. I would bet that the professionally designed image would initially attract more customers by sheer virtue that people figure that perhaps it’s a chain, and it must be good due to the assumption of percieved value. Then of course once inside the menu has has to compliment the brand.

    No one element stands on it’s own. Every element of a brand plays a role in it’s success. I think it was a little odd to discount the value of design in a logo, but state further paragraphs the importance of good design, ie:the website.

    Good design is positive positioning, plain and simple. An old art director used to tell me, “It isn’t good design unless it sells!”

  11. Ed, thanks for the comment. I love your writing.

    I don’t disagree. We’ve helped a lot of client gain more respect in their industry from an identity overhaul – and that can result in increased sales. In my experience, the redesign typically results in an environment of better brand alignment – the quality of the mark matches the quality of the impression. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard client customers and suppliers say “wow, that really looks a lot more like you guys.” To me that says they were starting off with something very amateur.

    Creating a strong logo can take a lot of effort and expense because it’s typically a very emotionally charged conversation for a small business owner/executive. I’m not sure that it has to be. If you’re working with a professional designer, with a lot of proven experience, you should be in good hands. Let them do their work. When you try to work too much into a logo you usually lose effectiveness. A logo isn’t meant to tell your entire corporate story, it’s meant to be mark that can be easily identified with you – something that will be remembered. And to be remembered, it has to be used frequently and appropriately.

    Great discussion. Keep it coming!

  12. Mark True says:

    In effect, I was also saying a poorly designed logo is one that doesn’t reflect your brand.

    If your logo is is out of date, but people know it’s yours and instantly recognize it as belonging to your brand, reflecting your brand and identifying the thing it’s attached to yours, it’s a good logo. Too often, clients try to change their logo because they thing it will change their brand (or because they’re just bored with it).

    Changing logos – we call the brand marks because they mark your brand – or using a logo that doesn’t reflect your brand creates confusion in the marketplace, so I would say such a logo is a poor logo.

    On the other hand, a logo change/redesign is a great way to signal a change in your brand…as long as the rest of the experience has, indeed, changed.

    -Mark

  13. Mark True says:

    I’m really enjoying the conversation. This is the beauty of social media.

    Absolutely, brand brother!

    -Mark

  14. Don, regardless of what industry you’re in, as long as you’re doing business and taking peoples money you should look professional. It’s possible to appear down-to-earth and professional at the same time. Your website copy plays a big role in this instance.

    It sounds to me as if you have a great brand, working well for your bottom line, and I’d love to see your websites.

  15. Nice article.
    The essence of branding is providing consistency to the customer so that they recognize you when they see you. If you do something consistently, good or bad, then you are branding yourself. Every time your customer looks at you, touches you or feels you, its an opportunity to create that unique impression. And its not as difficult as it may seem. We have done as much for our small business. You can see it online at

    Jaya Teas

    We have infact implemented many of the ideas Nick mentions. Many others, unfortunately, we don’t have time to implement. Because as a small business, its tough to do everything AND sell your product at the same time.

    Nice ideas though. Keep them coming.

  16. Nick – Great post! I wish I had more to add, but the great comments regarding this post have covered it. just wanted to let you know I enjoyed the post and enjoy your blog. Quality material!

  17. Don, I don’t mean all websites have to be “slick” or “ultra-modern”. To David’s point, they should be professional and reflective of your desired brand image.

    LL Bean is definitely known as a down-to-earth brand. They provide good quality rugged products at a good price and they have a world class e-commerce engine. But at the same time their site is easy to use and logically laid out. It’s not ultra-modern but it hangs with current sites.

  18. I love the list. It’s a good beginning. However, as an owner of 2 brick & mortar servie business’s, I can’t agree with you about the website. It depends on which busness you’re in.

    Sure a photographer or web designer will need a fancy high tech website. Howver, I made both our sites over 7 years ago. They’re pretty much unchanged and you can tell they’re not ultra-modern slick looking sites. But they sell our services like crazy because people call and say they hired us we seemed “down to Earth” on our website.

    Believe me, there has been many times when I wanted to go “professional” with our web design, but I’m not touching it as long as the business keeps coming in!

    Your website should match the type of business you’re in.

    Don

  19. Nick, great article. I just posted a comment on this article in David Airey’ssite.

    Most businesses perceive logo as one of the tools to get into business and do not take any interest at the inception stage of the business. I would say a little thought and anticipation would help a difficult and expensive re-branding exercise, in the future. We get into a business with the hope that we shall succeed.

    No business logo is above its product and market relationships. One cannot have an excellent logo and nothing else to offer. Then the business has to be literally hauled up. But a logoless business has hope, what do you say? :)

  20. Mark True says:

    Don…I agree with Nick’s comment about websites. When he writes “professional” he doesn’t necessarily mean “slick,” “contemporary” or even “nice,” but he does mean it should work, it should be complete, it should be dynamic so there is a reason to come back to it and, ultimately, it should reflect your brand.

    Sunil…congratulations on being a small business owner. Your site is beautiful. If you can successfully carry that look and feel throughout your organization, you’re going to be way ahead of your competition. I am worried, however, about one comment: you wrote “its tough to do everything AND sell your product at the same time.” Doing everything is what sells your product. (Don’t confuse that with being all things to all people:)) That’s what often keeps businesses from being successful…they seperate sales and brand, as if they aren’t related.

    I can’t tell from your post what things you’ve NOT done, but I imagine you’ve done quite a bit of Nick’s list. As a caveat to others who may be reading this as a small business owner, I’d say that because brand is so integrated in everything you do, if you DON’T pay attention to the brand you WON’T see the sales. In other words, you can’t afford to ignore the brand. For start-ups, that means planning for non-revenue generating work – brand development – before you start seeing sales. We call those investments “table stakes” because it’s what you have to do just to establish your brand, even before the first sale is made. If we could get sales without managing the brand, there’d be no reason to manage the brand.

  21. I’m all for blogs… Blogs are definitely a small business’ best friend, and will give you a closer look at how your customer thinks, their reactions…

  22. Nicholas, you’re exactly right. Blogs are a great way to be seen as a thought leader. The two way dialog – just like these comments – are great conversations. The trick is writing valuable content and participating in the online community. A lot of people start blogging and never get an audience. They don’t realize that people just don’t magically appear at your blog, you have to cultivate new audiences and bring them to your site with insightful comments and posts.

  23. A professional website and search engine marketing will put a new company on the map quickly. Many are way behind the Internet curve for business. Good way to saturate the market with your new brand too.

    Nation Brands Index
    State Brands Index
    City Brands Index

  24. Hi Nick–

    Like all marketers,I believe that perception is reality, which is both the good news and the bad news. The bad news is that most people leave that perception to happenstance; the good news is that we can (and must) shape how we are perceived–which is where personal branding comes in–nothing left to chance–everything waving a recognizable flag!

  25. I’m all for professional look – I think that’s just as important as the service but I also think that follows through into your logo. That be just as professional.

  26. Well we might not choose Msn over Google just because og their logo, but the logo design still plays a vital role. It serves as the brand identity and if anythiing goes wrong with that, the brand is likely to get affected.

  27. I think most businesses should have an identifiable logo. As you said, the logo itself will not make the sale..directly, but later on your logo, if you’ve done your work correctly, can serve as a seal of approval for your followers.

    It’s funny how two old guidelines have persisted throughout the years:
    1. You can sell anything if it is packaged properly…professional looking site and product/service presentation, and

    2. Service is King. Give your customers what they want and make them feel great about buying it and they will return.

  28. Mr. Rice… I found these “tips” on branding to really miss the whole point of branding. It has to do with differentiating your company/product/service in a positive and unique way, and it begins with your strategy, not tactics. Positioning your offering within your competing category through significant strategies (not logo color or even its cost) having to do with company values, mission and culture, an understanding of customer and prospect values, needs and triggers, knowing your competitor’s positioning and corporat strategies are all significant inputs to the ultimate brand. Your tip number five sort of addresses this, but is really simplistic. I don’t care how small a company is, a strategic foundation for branding is first and most important. I’m blogging a series of post called Branding Basics at http://www.thebrandingblog.com. I’ve just posted my sixth blog in the series and have just given readers permission to begin the “creative” process by writing their brand’s “story”: all this before we ever address the elements of name, logo and teglines, never mind media. If you check it out, I’d welcome your comments.

  29. Martin, this was not intended to be a step-by-step how-to guide for branding or re-branding your company. I applaud your efforts to do so on your blog. We take clients through the entire process ourselves – and you’re right, there is much more strategic work upfront than most people realize.

    This post was designed around 9+ easy things that small businesses can do today to start clarifying their unique value in the market – which is a key component of branding.

  30. This is an excellent way to explain branding to small business owners who are looking for a way to set themselves apart from the pack.

  31. Nick – this is such a refreshing post. Your commonsense approach to branding is exactly what most business leaders need. They need to understand branding as a powerful decision making tool.

    For example; “Do what you say you’re going to do.”

    That ought to send every business owner on a mission to make operational what her brand promises. Do that and your logo will have emotional impact…on your customers.

    Thank you for enlarging the branding conversation!

    Keep creating,
    Mike

  32. I am new to the internet i have heard from my web provider I cannot email people I don’t personally know even though I have a buisness account . I feel like I am in a box and cannot get out except to pay big bucks to advertise which I don’t have because I paid to publish my book International Book Of Love A Dolls Like Us Book By Sharon Wortman used my maiden name and I have to pay for a website to promote the book . When I talk to my book publisher all I hear is your book is not selling no where on the planet people want me to do another one I work to pay to produce books part time but I need to work my physical job less and this more but I cannot afford it I often wonder how many books sell used and authors just don’t get paid unless they are top selling . But this is probaly a wrong way to think if it were true no one would pay to publish .

  33. Hi Nick,

    Starting with a good logo can only be a good thing. The fact that someone has the common sense to ‘do it right’ out of the gate has at least a bit of the common sense to build a foundation for an eventual ‘design language’. By language, I mean the Brand. Consistency, repitition, messaging, etc. — all the things you mention become a business’s personality which, when combined with all interactions/transactions the business performs, ultimately become the customer experience and/or Brand. It’s what the customer remembers. It’s what decides whether or not they will do business with you again.

  34. working capital says:

    I think when it comes to online services such as this website, ease of use, superior content and user interaction trumps a pretty logo. However not all businesses are internet based.

  35. I have been busy working on a new book and taking a summer vacation . So I have not blogged much her lately thank you for reminding me of the importance of blogging .
    If I am not busy enough I am contimplating taking a course in the fall at the local college .
    Since I am largely self taught on computers I know a lot more then most of the other students ion the class . I am however surprised at what I didn’t learn by teaching myself so some things are a waste of time for me to learn and others are rewarding and some are the I should have known that good article .

  36. I agree with your number 1 although it may have been phrased incorrectly for a bit. Logo designs are definitely important, but it is definitely not branding alone and definitely not the end of the promotion work.

    But most essential point that people must realize is that professional logo designs need not be expensive to represent a company’s business values. We at a href=”http://www.logodesignguru.com/index.html”>LogoDesignGuru.com knows that a good quality design raises the image of a company, and the company should be the one to uphold the logo’s promise of good sevice/product/business.

  37. I agree with your number 1 although it may have been phrased incorrectly for a bit. Logo designs are definitely important, but it is definitely not branding alone and definitely not the end of the promotion work.

    But most essential point that people must realize is that professional logo designs need not be expensive to represent a company’s business values. A good quality design raises the image of a company, and the company should be the one to uphold the logo’s promise of good sevice/product/business.

  38. Mac, you hit the nail on the head. In today’s world, good design is pretty easy to come by – without spending a fortune. Ten years ago it was a different story.

    Who would have guessed that you could go to Target (in the USA) and buy cheap, decent quality merchandise from dozens of top fashion designers, architects, and celebrity chefs.

    Graphic design is no different. Someone like Logoworks.com will do amazing design – with multiple choices and revisions – for a few hundred dollars.

  39. Nike, your 9 tips are great one but the first one about the log designs,you told the logo design doesn’t matter but in my opinion logo design matters the business, the logo reflects the business itself ,its the cornerstone of the business identity.So a good looking professional logo definitely matters the business

  40. Great Points! But Logo plays an important part in branding, cause it is your graphical presence in business world. Moreover people remember images more than text. :>

    Here is another good article bout branding. Hope you will find it useful
    http://www.logoblog.org/wordpress/category/branding-tips/

  41. i do feel that small firms do need to get used to the idea of branding, because with the internet as something of a leveler, they would be passing up a great opportunity, if they didn’t seek to promote themselves using what current technology allows.

  42. Hi,

    “Do what you say you’re going to do.”

    IMO no truer words have ever been spoken. This will literally make or break your business. If you don’t follow up on your promises, forget about customer loyalty, repeat business, and referrals.

    Once you start taking your customers for granted and failing to follow through on promises, you will quickly lose credibility. It’s hard to recover from that.

    Keep in mind that customers simply want respect. Treat them well, and you’re golden.

    Steve

  43. lee newham says:

    Your logo isn’t as important as your brand. Your logo is one element within your brand.

    Your brand is the interface with the consumer. How you business feels, is like to use, sounds, how your personel act, what you sell or the service you provide.

    Your brand is important.

    Even small businesses need to consider their branding as a whole and that includes your logo. Companies like logoworks.com create illustrations, not really logo’s. It’s vitally important that your designer/s concider how your visual identity is implemented. So consitant use of colour palettes, typefaces, layouts and a whole brand armoury are important. Your idenity should be more than just you logo stuck on everything!

    Your logo is often the first point of contact anyone will have with your company. If you want people to remember you, you want your promotions and advertising to be effective, if you want your products to get listings in supermarkets, if you want people to notice you then you HAVE to invest in design. It’s not expensive either.

    This is a quick check list for your identity.

    1. Is my logo/symbol distinctive and memorable. Ideally you can quickly draw it or is it easily describable?
    2. Is it emotive? Does it FEEL like my business. You don’t want something that looks cheap for a business selling expensive watches!
    3. Is it adaptable? Does my identity still look and feel like my identity when it’s large, small, B&W etc?
    4. How do all the other elements work? Ideally all the elements that visually represent your brand should feel like they are from the same family. From uniforms to signs to logo’s to business cards to the typeface you use on your brochure or website, the colours you use, shapes and the tone of voice for the language you use. Check out http://www.innocent.co.uk for a good example of this.

  44. I would strongly agree with these 10 steps. I would say the biggest step when starting up a small business is having a good looking logo, something that will catch the eye. One huge way to be able to put your logo out there is using pop up displays and Banners.

  45. LOL that 1st one is the reason why i hate marketing ppl — just kidding — okay maybe i’m a little serious about it

  46. Joanna Spilioti says:

    “Blogs are good, but they’re just one tool” I completely agree with you. Because I have to write blog everyday for my company, and I think only this way is not enough for our business.

  47. I enjoyed reading your post. However, I will say I think the logo is important. It doesn’t have to be a great logo, but it should be memorable..something easily recognizable and relevant to the business. I agree it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

    I completely agree with Tip #9 and your bonus Tip #10.

  48. Great tips for the small business owner, when branding feels BIG and overwhelming. Creating a business brand smartly is important.

  49. Great tips! I’m starting my own business as well. Branding is extremely important but it is much easier said than done. Finding the right branding tools, i.e. logo, taglines, etc takes alot of brainstorming to get right. However, once perfected, they become the foundation of the business and can help your business take-off!

  50. I Followed reading material an clause away snick Sir Tim Rice concluded at microscopic business sector stigmatization. He experiences a mailing list of 9 tips that constitute a circle of horse sense. We while business organization proprietors are not exclusively fashionable control of how we are branded….

  51. This is an excellent list. Consistent branding is critical to an organization’s success and can speak volumes. Thanks for posting!

  52. I know it’s an older post Nick, but it’s extremely relevant still today. We realized that the most important driving force out there is .. people.. as you outlined in your last tip. I was working with a company, and we went so far as to change our motto to “People First.” just because of that aspect. Great post. I’d say you should update it, but there isn’t much to add besides social media aspects.

  53. nurdianto says:

    Nice post,i like this..

  54. Learned a lot of new things from Smallbusinessbranding.com. The bonus tip #10 was really an incentive, realizing how important one-on-one conversation is! Liked it a lot, its been tweeted!

  55. Interesting article. I’ve always thought that the main thing was having a logo, but you’re right. It’s best to put your logo on print material and not so much on Websites (or at least don’t spend too much worrying about getting an expensive logo on your site like you mentioned)

  56. Branding is more than a logo or symbol. It’s as important on your website as it is on your business card. And it’s not ‘expensive’. That suggests it’s a luxury. It’s not. It’s an investment.

    Good branding (and there isn’t much of it out there being honest overall), is emotive, it’s recognizable and is the first point many have that communicates the values of your brand.

    Make sure you use a proper designer.
    Make sure you brief the designers properly.
    Make sure it focuses on what you want to communicate and make sure you don’t try to communicate too much.

    In short. KEEP IT SIMPLE.

    We have been trying to get the message across regarding design for shopfronts via the What If Project: whatifsydenham.wordpress.com

    It’s not easy. People think design is about pulling the wool over people eyes. It shouldn’t be. It should be about truth.

  57. Great, to the point article. Very well done compared to all the fluff out there.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Nick Rice over at Small Business Branding wrote an article today titled 9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses. [...]

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    [...] 9 Branding Tips for Small Businesses (Small Business Branding) “Proper branding is critical to your long term success. A lot of people think of branding as logo development. But in reality, branding is managing the thoughts and feelings of your customers to ensure that you are what they desire. If your desired brand image isn’t what’s in the minds of your target audience, you’ve got to figure out where the gaps are and how to address them. And fixing those issues is hard work because the old adage still rings true – the customer is always right.” [...]

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  7. Small Office Lists » Blog Archive » 9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses says:

    [...] Over at Small Business Branding, Nick Rice writes 9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses… [...]

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  9. Branding: A Recipe That Makes Sense…

    I was reading an article by Nick Rice over at Small Business Branding. He has a list of 9 tips that make a lot of sense. We as business owners are not entirely in control of how we are branded….

  10. The Security Catalyst » Blog Archive » Marketing is essential to your success. Here are ten tips to improving your security success! says:

    [...] Of course, this is the time when the rubber meets the road for The Michaelangelo Group (my company). Since we now are clear about the value we provide as an organization (and have a track record of success to prove it), we have to create marketing materials to clearly explain that to others. We started working on some elements last week, and started to circulate some pieces yesterday. We’re already updating them (seems it’s easier, sometimes, to help someone else). We keep working to practice what we preach and put effective pieces together. This has led to some awesome conversations and exchanges with friends, clients and other professionals. This morning, Cutaway sent me some links, including: http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com/655/branding-tips-small-business/ [...]

  11. [...] Nick Rice over at Small Business Branding wrote an article today titled 9 Branding Tips For Small Businesses. [...]

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    [...] Follow up: Make sure you follow up on promises and after meeting new people. [...]

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