Last week we discussed creating a marketing plan for your business. No matter what you do as a business owner, it is important that you have a plan. No only will this serve as a road map for your personal use when making business decisions but it will also help your employees, potential investors or anyone else taking an interest in your business to see where you are and where you are trying to go.
This week we are going to focus on branding. I am constantly amazed at the number of businesses that do not have a consistent branding strategy. I sometimes see a business with one color scheme and logo on their business cards, another look on their website and yet another look at their actual place of business. How do you ever expect people to associate your business identity with your product/service if they have no idea who you are? This does not mean that you have to decide on a color scheme and/or logo and stick with it for the rest of your business life but it does not mean that you should not change more than once every couple of years. If you do decide to make some changes, it should not be on a whim rather as a relaunch or if you are unveiling a new product/service and want to upgrade the look of your business at the same time.
Here are a few other things to consider when branding your business:
- Even if your business is currently going through an identity crisis, take some time to consider what you want your logo and/or look of your business name to say about your business. You should consider everything from the colors that you use to the type of font to the placement and wording of your business name. Your brand is going to be the first thing that people notice about your business and they will immediately begin to make assumptions about your business structure, the level of service they expect to receive and the quality of your product/service based on their interpretation of your business brand.
- When creating your business look, it may not be necessary to design a logo. Not all businesses have logos because some simply use their business name in a particular font as the identity for their business. Others craft an image that is related to their business product/service. It may be helpful to enlist the services of a graphic artist to assist with this process if you are not graphically inclined.
- A very important component of your business identity is the color scheme. I advise my clients to choose at least three colors but no more than four colors for their color scheme. You should start with a base color like black and/or white, add your favorite color and then a color that compliments the base and your favorite. You can also add a metallic like gold or silver as an accent. Having multiple colors that work together will give you more options when designing marketing collateral. For example, I like to use black, red, cream and gold. If you use your imagination, you can see how any combination of two, three or all four of these colors would look good on a brochure, business card or website.
- Next you need to think of a tag line for your business. I love to tell story of my son telling my mom that he wanted to go to Wal-Mart. At the time he was only three years old and she asked him why he wanted to go to Wal-Mart and he simply replied, “You save money at Wal-Mart.” No matter how you feel about Wal-Mart they have obviously done a great job of branding their business if a three-year old can associate their tagline with wanting to patronize their business. Your clients should have similar thoughts about your business. There should be some (positive) phrase that comes to their mind when they think of your business.
Now that you have thought about branding your business, you have to think about where you are going to use it. Every business owner needs a business card. It does not matter what stage you are in in your business, you never know when you are going to go somewhere and meet someone that will need your services, that will know of someone who can help build your business or get you started or when you might meet someone that you want to stay in contact with. Here are a few other suggestions of materials to help get the word out about your business:
- Rack cards – a simple front and back mini brochure offers the perfect opportunity to provide your contact information as well as a brief amount information about your business. They are generally 1/3 the size of a brochure and are great to pass out at trade shows and expos
- Brochures – a tri-fold document provides more space to elaborate on the who, what, when and why of your business. These are perfect to place in your local Chamber of Commerce, to tuck inside of promotional packages and to pass out at networking events
- Website – it seems that everyone wants to put their business on Facebook (mainly because its free) but having an individual website is also beneficial because it can be optimized for search engines (which enables you to show up in web searches) and it allows you to provide more information about your business as well as have an online store to sell your products/services if needed
I wish I could tell you everything that I know about marketing your business in one blog or even two but that would be impossible. If your business is suffering from an identity crisis, I hope this serves as a great starting point but email me (email@example.com) for more information about creating a consistent image for your business. Remember: you only get one chance to make a first impression. See you next Tuesday… we will discuss no-cost and low-cost marketing strategies for your business.