How To Create A Unique Brand For Your Small Business
It’s a tough time at the moment and when business starts to slow down it can sometimes leave you a bit disheartened and discouraged, but it shouldn’t. Think of this time as a good opportunity to get some spring cleaning done on your business. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure there are lots of jobs, ideas and business admin that gets neglected throughout the year and pushed to the bottom of the pile. For lots of businesses that’s doing a good assessment of your branding, company image and general presence. Branding is often a term that’s thrown about, and there’s lots of different ways that you project your brand – it’s not just about a logo (although that is important!). The Copy Clinic on the Indie Oxford Blog is also a great source to look at in terms of getting your head around brand voice, which is also an integral part of your overarching brand image. But, as a graphic designer, I’m going to give you a few things to think about when it comes to your visual identity, so that when we’re all back up and running you’ll be looking awesome and can focus on all the bits you do best!
Does your logo reflect your business personality and does it appeal to your target market?
It’s really important that your logo reflects your business personality. Are you fun or serious? Casual or formal? Have a think about what fonts, colours and any images you are using and whether they compliment the service you’re offering or what you’re selling. For example, a finance company isn’t going to use Comic Sans and bright colours in their branding, but a Nursery could.
If you are a bit concerned about your logo, or worried that it’s a bit old fashioned, don’t panic! There are lots of subtle ways that you can update your logo whether it’s smoothing out some fonts, or simplifying the image. Sometimes it’s even just a simple redraw to ensure that it’s high res enough. There’s often a worry about making changes to an established logo, but there are lots of companies that have subtly changed their logos over the last couple of years (probably without you even noticing!) including Facebook and Channel 4. You don’t need to lose the identity you’ve built up, but you also don’t have to be stuck with a 90’s logo that just doesn’t work for you anymore.
Are you using the same typefaces and colours across all your branding?
Having consistency is key to good branding. We associate lots of brands with so much more than just their logo (which is why you can afford to make simple tweaks to it when you need to). For example, we can easily recognise the Disney font, we know that Coca Cola is red and that a big yellow M means McDonalds. So when you take a look at your branding – are you using the same colours consistently? Does your website and your social media use the same shade of purple? Do your business cards match your letter heads?
You don’t need to just stick to one colour, pick a handful that compliment each other and reflect your business (there are lots of colour palettes you can find online to help with this). But whatever you choose, just ensure you are using it consistently. It’s the same with fonts. You don’t have to use one font for everything, and your logo can stand alone, but try picking two typefaces that you can use alongside it. If you want one of those to be a more decorative typeface, consider a simple Sans Serif font to compliment it. But again, just make sure you are consistent! If you’re sending out a newsletter is it in your company font? Does your Facebook header image make use of your company colour palette? Does your company vehicle compliment your online brand presence? What about company uniform and merchandise? Think of all the ways your customers interact with your brand and ensure they are all giving the same impression.
What about the images you use?
I think it’s always best to use your own good quality images, so try and avoid stock images or images with low resolution or bad lighting. We are very visually oriented now, and particularly if you’re on Instagram you need to make sure your images are on point, and most importantly on brand.
If this is something you think would help your business there are lots of great photographers that are Indie Oxford members who can help you get some great shots that you can use across all your platforms (even if you have to wait a few months!). In the meantime, or if you fancy being your own photographer, there is still a lot you can do with just a phone camera! There are also apps that can help you with consistency and brand building for social media posts too. You can plan out your Instagram feeds using apps such as Planoly and Later and schedule other social posts with Buffer and Hootsuite. Canva can also help you edit images and has customisable templates that you can use.
How you present yourself is a reflection of you and your values, so it’s vital that your visual identity, written and spoken messaging and customer experience, effortlessly tie together and showcase your business as the awesome indie that it is! Your company is more than just a good logo and some nice colours, but great branding is an important and integral part of your overall presence, and businesses that are visually consistent connect more effectively with their customer base. It’s also a great way to ensure you are doing everything you can to attract new customers, and build a relationship with them. So ask yourself the above questions, make some tweaks if you need to and remember: consistency is key!
Rianna at Jampuppy Design Studio is offering free 20 minute consultations at the moment as well as 10% off any jobs booked in April for Independent Oxford Members! 90 day payment options are also available.