We all know them, the big arched M, the check mark, the guy on the horse. These companies although completely different have used branding to create a unified look that is hard to forget and easy to recognize. Small Businesses often assume that creating a cohesive brand is only accessible to big companies, when in reality it is within reach to anyone who is willing to put in the effort. The most important part of branding is cohesiveness, if you visit a store of any of the brands mentioned above you will see that they incorporate the logo, text and colors throughout. So how can a small business use some of the “big boy” tactics without breaking the budget?
1. Get inspired: if you don’t know how to start the branding process, begin by researching brands that you love or that have a similar feel to what you are aiming for. Keep notes about what attracts you to the company and get to the core of their brand. Learn their stories and start thinking about your own. (Insert company story) What type of company do you want people to describe you as. Create an inspiration board with pictures and little notes (I love using Pinterest for the beginning stages and then create a physical board as I narrow down my selections) as you start adding more things you will begin to see a pattern of what you like, If you know “who you are” it will be easy to define the “look” that matches your company’s personality.
2. Put in the work: Consider all the options. Once you have a clear vision of what you want search for a graphic designer (I prefer to use local businesses to support my peers). There are a lot of online options for cheap logos like logonerd.com, which offer a good alternative for those with a smaller budget. If you have a physical storefront I would advise to go with a professional who can work with you to create cohesive materials ranging from business cards to banners. At this point it is also important that you introduce professional Photography for social media as well as your website, these images should represent who you are, who your employees are and what you offer. Have you ever gone to a new restaurant, fallen in love with their food but their website is full of stock images? Think about your own business, is the generic image that all your competitors use a good representation of what you offer? The only way to succeed in business is by differentiating yourself from the competition. At CapturedByRay we offer services specifically designed for Small businesses that are looking to have a cohesive professional looking brand.
3. Work with what you have (don’t pretend to be something you’re not) during this whole process it is important to remember who you are and not allow yourself or others take you in a direction that is not genuine. People can smell fakeness, if you live in t-shirt and jeans you probably shouldn’t have your headshot done in a suit. When working with a business client our first step is to visit the business and observe the environment, this gives us a clear idea of what a normal day is like and what a client will see, from there we come up with a plan which allows us to have images that reflect the business with a unique perspective.
4. Keep it simple: People are extremely visual, once you have your logo, colors and fonts. Use them tactfully yet strategically everywhere, make sure any client that interacts with your business is exposed to them and can see cohesiveness throughout your business, from the store front, to the website.