Branding Basics

In Small Business Tips by Loren NallyLeave a Comment

WHAT IS BRANDING?

A solid identity can really make your business stand out.

Think about it – when you visit a business, wherever that is, their website, their social feed or an actual shop or place of business, what is it that makes it clear to you, who they are, and that you’re in the right place?

The first thing? Probably a logo – the name of the business – a ‘title’ that heads up the entrance – a public announcement. Above the door for a shop – in the header on the website. It tells you where you are.

That’s just the start. Effective branding is so much more than just a logo.

Here’s what we’re looking at:

THE ELEMENTS OF A GOOD BRAND KIT

There are several elements that you should consider when creating a brand for your business – do them well and you will truly love your branding.

Key elements of good branding - create your brand kit and style guide

BUSINESS NAME FORMULA

Even before you get to any pretty stuff, like a logo, you need to consider your business name. Does it convey what you do?

It’s become a bit of a trend to have a funky business name that kind of goes like this – [colour] [animal] – insert variables as you wish!

But, the problem with that if you’re just starting out is recognition. Not to mention trying to get traction with SEO.

Go with a ‘trendy’ name if you must but add a more obvious addition (industry) – like this [colour] [animal] [industry] – so I might create Purple Koala Finance (not a real business of course).

Right from the get go, that at least conveys what your business is and what you might be able to do for someone.

You should also check where else your proposed business name might appear already. Check social channels and websites of course. If it’s already in use, you may want to rethink. You want to be as unique as possible and ensure your business name is consistent everywhere you appear.

YOUR BRAND COLOURS

You’ll want to select colours that resonate with both you and your audience. Colour can convey emotion and feelings, even trust and professionalism so you want to get it right.

Here’s the lowdown on how colours are perceived – choose wisely.

COLOURPOSITIVE MEANINGSNEGATIVE MEANINGS
REDStrength, passion, energyAggression, danger, violence
BLUEPeace, calm, trust, loyaltyDepression, cold
GREENNature, health, good luckJealousy, envy, inexperience
YELLOWHappiness, optimism, hopeHazard, illness, caution
ORANGEEnergy, extrovertEccentric, impatience
PINKLove, romance, femininityImmaturity, over-emotional
WHITEPurity, innocence, balanceCold, emptiness
BLACKElegance, sophistication, styleEvil, unhappiness, fear

Think about what else you might associate certain colours with, particularly the hue of a colour. Pale blue or green can feel quite medical for example.

FONTS FOR YOUR BRAND STYLE

You’ll need a selection of fonts. Don’t be tempted by all the beautiful handwritten fonts you can get – you will need some ‘boring’ fonts too. Stick to just one or two of those pretty ones and use them appropriately – that means use just one at time – let it ‘sing’ as a headline and then use a standard (boring) font for the important stuff people need to be able to actually read.

Here’s a few standard fonts I recommend for the ‘boring’ ones.

  • Open Sans
  • Lato
  • Arial
  • Verdana
  • Roboto

You’ll find these readily available in Google Fonts which is a great free resource.

I’d recommend using fonts that are universal – that is, are easily used in websites and other handy graphic creation tools like Canva

IMAGES TO REPRESENT YOUR BRAND

Yes, images should be part of your brand guide. What best represents your business? People? Still life? Or something else entirely. Of course this depends a lot of what type of business you have but I find that most businesses require a standard set of universally used imagery.

There are some great free resources around with some generous image styles to choose from.

Think about what you want to convey. Do they need to be a certain colour to match your logo or colour palette? These needs to be taken into consideration.

Keep a consistent style so you avoid a crazy miss match of different image treatments. I’m talking about things such as border vs. no border – colour vs. black & white – that kind of thing.

PHOTOSHOOTS FOR PROFESSIONAL IMAGES

Professional branding
This is one of my own brand shots.

If you have products or if YOU are the face of your business, having a professional photoshoot done is a great investment. Your photographer can take your brand guide and ensure that all the photos are absolutely on track with your branding.

Don’t be tempted to omit ‘people’ pics on your website or in your branding. People tend to buy from people so it’s important that your business has a face. Even the big brand will recruit celebrities to be the face of their brand as they know it will sell.

Any photos you have done will be totally unique. They’re all yours. This also helps to create a single brand identity for your business.

TONE OF VOICE

Next up is how you say things. For this you need to think about you’re your audience is – who your ideal customer or client might be. Who is it  you are ‘speaking’ to?

It’s important about the actual words you use. Are there some key words or phrases that are important for your audience to hear? List them. See which ones resonate most.

If you’re trying to communicate something more complicated, think about how best you can explain it – does it require simple language? Or are you already speaking to experts who are fully understanding of technical language.

If you’re not equipped to formulate the right copy yourself, you might need a copywriter to help you. A copywriter can be worth their weight in gold! Don’t underestimate the power of the pen!

VISIBILTY

Make sure that whatever you (or your graphic designers) come up with will work across lots of different places. Your branding needs to be consistent across your website, your social media channels, your office or shop, business cards, paperwork… in fact anywhere and on anything that is related to your business. It all needs to work together to build an identity that people will recognise – whatever it is that they’re looking at.

That means, use the same colours, the same logo, similar images etc. same design style etc.

BRAND STYLE GUIDE

Even if you have all of the above together, it’s important to have it all documented. This is something you should do if you are building your brand or just starting out.

Why?

Imagine that you need to outsource some part of your business – your social media for example. How will you brief them on how to handle your branding so they stay ‘on brand’ with everything they produce? 

Creating a simple guide on the colours to include, the fonts to use, even the images and their styling, can make it easy to share with people who do work for you, like VA’s or social media agencies. It means that they be completely briefed on your branding and will be able to create and action things on your behalf whilst staying true to the brand.


So how confident are you about your business branding? Do you have any elements missing from the list above or have you realised that you just don’t ‘love your brand’? Let me know in the comments.

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