The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Branding Your Business

AdobeStock_250009141

As an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to see the ultimate benefit of branding your business. After all, how much of an impact can a logo or colors make?

But branding isn’t just for the Nikes and Apples of the world. With professional branding, even small businesses can see a huge difference in their revenue and digital presence. 

And the good news is that you don’t have to be an expert in design, content, and marketing strategies to brand your business. 

In this article, I’ll break down why branding matters, how you can create your company’s brand guidelines, and the influence branding can have on your business’s success. 

 

What Does Branding Look Like?

Your business brand is made of different elements, including logo, website, packaging, colors, typography, visual designs, and promotional materials. It should be consistent across everything you create, whether online or printed materials.

Designers work on new brand and big megaphone. Brand identity and logo, business card, advertisement and graphic design concept on white background. Bright vibrant violet vector isolated illustration

Branding is an essential part of every business. It gives your company a voice, value, and identity among your customers. And having a snazzy logo can make you feel good about how your company looks.

It also tells your customers what to expect from your company products and services, reflects your attributes, and sets you apart from the competition. 

The question is, does your branding represent who you are and the quality of your work? Or is it something you just threw together on Canva? (No shame, we’ve all done it).


Why Does Branding Matter?

We recognize a good brand when we see one. The Nike swoosh. The Geico gecko. The Target...well, target.

But why exactly does branding matter, and what does it do that makes your business a success?


1. Branding Builds Trust

When you go shopping for sportswear, you’re going to buy products from top brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma. Why? Because you know who they are. You know from their logo alone that the product is going to last.

That’s what a strong brand reputation can do to your business. It gives you a professional image, increases your credibility, and helps you build trust with clients so that they feel comfortable when doing business with you.

A good reputation starts with good branding. You’ll be hard pressed to find a successful world-wide company that doesn’t have consistent, professional branding.

2. Branding Improves Recognition

Branding is the first impression your customers have of you. It’s basically the face of your business. Your hired spokesperson who you don’t actually have to pay.

A great example is the Nike Swoosh (shocker, I know), but it’s easy to see why Nike’s name keeps coming up. The logo makes the brand easily recognizable. On a shelf full of dozens of shoes, you can identify a Nike shoe in a second just by looking at it. 

Having a reputable brand and logo like Nike can make your business easily recognizable and stand out in a crowd. Even B2B companies can boost their recognizability with good branding (think Intuit, Slack, and HubSpot).

3. Branding Generates New Customers

When your brand looks and feels trustworthy, it’s easier for people to refer close friends and families to you through word of mouth. For clothing companies, this might mean your customers become walking billboards for your products, displaying their love with the choice of what to put on in the morning. 

For small businesses, like yours, if the work you’ve done impresses them, they could refer other people to you for life. And when most companies rely on word of mouth to succeed, it becomes that much more important to treat your customers right.

 

Defining Your Brand

Branding entails everything about your company, from your values, mission, and how you treat and make customers feel about you. Defining a brand requires time and a deep understanding of your business and clients.

This can be extremely overwhelming. You know it’s important and you want to do it right. So where do you even start?

Here are a few essential questions you can answer to define your brand:

  • Who am I as a business? Here you will need to describe your business, mission, values, and your role in the industry.

  • Who is my target audience? First, determine what products you sell and then identify the right audience to sell to. Ascertain their demographics, what they look for, and how you can turn them into customers.

  • What makes my business special? Whatever business you do, there are competitors. Try to identify your point of difference (what sets your business apart) and leverage that.

What works in my industry? Check out common trends among your competitors that make them stay ahead. These could be the commonly used colors in logo design or marketing channels. Knowing what works in the industry can help you build your brand identity appropriately.

 

Elements of Branding

1. Website

A consistent website is a vital tool for your brand identity. The company website is the initial port of call for prospective customers. As such, you need to create a website that represents your brand, with all its elements aligning with your company's image, goals, and values.

2. Logo

Your logo speaks a lot about your brand without actually saying a word. This is a customer-facing component of your brand that denotes your company’s personality and what the business stands for.

A logo alone can make or break your business. Research by Promotique reported that almost 60% of consumers will not use a company with a terrible brand image even if the company has a good reputation. According to the study, 74% of consumers believe that how a logo feels and looks can tell them whether to make a purchase or run for the hills.

Choose a simple logo with an attractive color scheme and memorable shape or design. Keep the colors to a minimum, or your design could get lost and become overwhelming. 

Think about what kind of logo best suits your business: should it be literal or abstract? Traditional or modern? Youthful or timeless? Feminine, masculine, or something in between?

3. Visual content

Visuals help you tell a story without saying a word. Since visual content is memorable, it can help you build your brand identity with ease. Visuals can include candid photos, stock photos, illustrations, or abstract designs.

4. Typography

Typography can be a great tool to add a touch of personality to your brand. You can use this design element to bring humor and softness to your logo. Because every typeface has a specific feeling associated with it, your font will represent who you are as a brand. However, be sure to use pick fonts that match your headline and body font.

5. Social media

To effectively grow a brand, brand marketing should be your top priority. Since there are more than 3 billion internet users with social media accounts, it makes sense for businesses to use of social media to develop their brands. Social media branding includes your profile pics, backgrounds, post graphics, and post text.

 

Using Science to Choose Your Brand’s Colors, Fonts, Shapes, & Tone

Our decisions are always influenced by how we see ourselves, how we feel, and how we see those around us. We’re emotional people, and those emotions bleed into everything we do. Even our brand choices.

We’re going to choose brands that feel right to us. A lot of the time, we don’t even know why a brand feels right. It just does. Behind the scenes, our brains have made split decisions based on everything from the colors we see to the shape of the brand’s logo.

So, if you’re starting a business, your branding shouldn’t be based on your favorite colors or personal preference (as tempting as that is). It needs to be based on your customers. To choose the colors, shapes, fonts, and tone that will best persuade customers to purchase your product or service, you need to ask science for some help.

1. The Psychology of Fonts

Fonts have a psychological effect on consumers. The shape of letters impacts the choice we make because we look at them with previously held feelings, emotions, and associations. 

When designing a logo or choosing a website’s font, you should consider using a typeface with the right personality; a font that will meet your client’s expectations and that will look cohesive on the page. 

For example, don’t mix fonts that look too closely related or it will look like you’ve mistakenly changed fonts halfway through a design. Matching a serif with a san serif generally works well, as does an artistic font with one or the other. And if you’ve got a lot of text, you want something easy to read for longer paragraphs.

Generally, we recommend writing down adjectives you want people to associate with your brand and comparing that against how people react to the types of fonts available to use. 

2. The Psychology of Shapes

Just like color, shapes can go a long way in determining how consumers relate to your brand. The shape of your fonts or logo should communicate about your brand.

In logos, shapes can be classified into three categories: symbolic, organic, or geometric. Each of these shapes has its psychological associations.

Using geometric shapes communicates a sense of power and order to your consumers. For instance, IBM used geometric shapes to create its iconic logo.

Also, you may use abstract or symbolic shapes to communicate certain cultures to your consumers. 

For example, you can use a star in your logo to mean patriotism or a heart to portray love. Amazon used an arrow in their logo to show delivery, their range of products (A-Z), and the consumer’s resulting smile.

Finally, you may use organic shapes to represent nature.

3. The Psychology of Colors

Colors have the greatest psychological impact on consumers. They trigger human emotions, which affects their loyalty to a brand. Various colors are associated with different qualities that trigger distinct emotions in your customers.

  • Red - Typically associated with confidence, speed, and danger, red is a bold color choice. Because of its negative connotations, research has shown that using too much red in your website can deter action. It works well as an accent color for CTAs and other visual elements.

  • Orange - Orange is considered energetic, warm, vibrant, and enthusiastic. It’s a great color for brands who want to express individuality and creativity (which is why it’s one of our favorites).

  • Yellow - You won’t find a color as happy, optimistic, inspirational, and bright as yellow. This color is a great choice for modern brands or companies who want to add a feeling of excitement to their product or service. 

  • Blue - Blue is calming and cool, which makes it one of the most popular colors for branding. Darker shades convey a sense of trustworthiness, professionalism, and loyalty, while lighter blues represent gentleness, healing, and tranquility. 

  • Green - Green is the color of nature. As a result, it’s usually associated with feelings of calmness, relaxation, joy, and harmony. As with blue, darker shades will add a sense of seriousness to your brand, while lighter shades make a more youthful, energetic feel.

  • Purple - For centuries, the color purple has been associated with royalty, luxury, and wealth. But it’s not just for kings and queens. Brands can tap into this color to evoke feelings of creativity, imagination, wisdom, and romance. The darker the shade, the more masculine the color feels.

  • Pink - Pink is considered to be the most feminine color (despite the fact that it was considered more manly than blue in the past). It has a delicate, innocent, sweet, and romantic feel. More than that, it has a serious calming effect and is even being used in mental hospitals and prisons. If your product or service helps people feel safe (like a security system or cleaning products), pink could be a natural fit.

  • Grey - A common accent color, grey feels sophisticated, wealthy, ornate, and stylish. It pairs well with almost every color and can tone down your brand. 

  • Brown - Brown represents earth, security, and contentment. If used as a primary color, it can make your brand feel a little bland. However, as an accent, it’s a great choice for helping your brand feel warm and comfortable. 

  • Black - We typically think of funerals in the U.S. when we think of the color black, but there’s more to it than that. It represents elegance, mystery, ambition, and power. Try pairing it with feminine colors to add a masculine feel, or use it as an accent to make your brand feel more sophisticated.

  • White - White represents youth, innocence, and cleanliness. It also creates a cool, refreshing feeling (ask any designer. White space is a must). While it can be tricky to use white in your branding, especially for print products or letterheads, it’s a great accent to add depth to your other color choices.

4. The Psychology of Tone

A tone involves the mixture of colors or adding shades of different colors to your logo.

The way you compose your color elements in a logo impacts how people perceive your brand. For instance, if you look at the Microsoft logo, it contains several colors to communicate several company qualities.

Think about the types of images you’re going to use. Stock photos can give you a professional but impersonal tone. Illustrations can create a playful, creative or childish tone. Photos of your team create a personal tone, but if used too much, can make your brand feel self-absorbed.


Tool & Resources to Build Your Brand

All of this can be stressful. But the good news is, you don’t have to start from the ground up. There are many resources and tools that can help you execute your branding strategy.

  • Designing a logo doesn’t have to be hard. There are many logo makers you can use to create a logo with a few clicks. You can also get help from professional graphic designers for the best results.

  • Tools like Canva can come in handy when generating consistent and quality visual content for your brand. The site offers helpful resources that guide you in creating quality content, which aligns with your brand to keep your brand at the top.

  • One top tool to use for social media brand awareness is the Hootsuite. Among other things, this tool helps you schedule and manage your social media content. Besides, it can assist you in measuring the impact of your campaigns.

 

General Guidelines & Best Practices

1. Work on your visuals

Visual elements are an essential aspect of branding for both small and big businesses. We’ll see the images on a company’s website long before we’ll process the words on the page. 

Visuals are the best place to start. Main elements of visual branding include:

  • Logo- The company logo is among the first things your customers will come across. As such, make your logo closely tied to your company. Before anything else, strive to get your logo right. Once you have the logo ready, place it everywhere on all branded materials where people can easily see it (but not too big to the point where it’s distracting).

  • Brand guidelines- Brand guidelines are brand style guides that explain how your brand presents itself to customers. Your brand guidelines should typically include your color palette, typography, the types of images you’ll use, and logo variations and placement guidelines. These ensure there is consistency in how your brand looks, sounds, and feels.

2. Create a Voice That Reflects Your Brand

A strong voice is crucial in helping customers to identify your brand when they come across it on different platforms. Your voice comes across from your content on channels like a company website or social platforms.

It can be professional and informational, fun and witty, conversational, or any combination of these. It’s all about what you want your brand to sound like. Are you the serious expert they seek out when they need answers or the fun aunt they go to for a good time?

Make sure you develop a voice and identity that reflects your brand and consistently use it across the platforms. Think about companies like Nike, Coca –Cola, and Apple. They all have a unique voice and identity. 

3. Leverage Co-Branding

When you begin building your brand, you’ll always have limited reach. The best way to speed your scope and enhance your brand trust is by partnering with other established companies with a bigger range.

Brand partnerships help companies split marketing roles. Besides cutting on costs, they provide access to audiences you may not have. The good thing about this visibility is that when a trusted brand introduces your brand to its audience, the target market can easily extend the trust to your brand.

To have success in this strategy, be sure to choose a partner who aligns with your brand. The target audience should be similar but not competitive.

This is all optional, of course. You can always do your own thing. But co-branding is an excellent choice for technical businesses.

4. Stay True to Your Brand

The secret to a successful brand is to deliver what you promise. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard to stick to what you started, especially when you’re relying on outsourcers to help with content and design.

But if your brand is inconsistent, your business looks unprofessional and cheap. Customers might question your quality of work if they see different logos, color schemes, and designs each time they visit your website. 

Staying true to your brands will ensure you have happy customers who return for more business. Better yet, they may also bring their friends along for another purchase. With more referrals, you get increased trust and eventually grow your brand.


Get the Direction You Need to Help Your Business Succeed

Branding is key to the success of your business. You need to create a brand that aligns with your industry and target market, then build it consistently using the right resources. With no time, you should have a trustworthy brand that people can easily recognize.


If you’re struggling with your brand, your vision for your business, or your overall strategy, we’re here to help. With the ROI PitStop, you’ll be paired up with a coaching expert who will help you execute a personalized marketing strategy based on your specific challenges and goals.

Click the button below to book your first call for free!

Schedule a Strategy Session

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to Email Updates