The First Steps: Branding for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

Brand-Recognition

This is a simple to understand resource for startups and small to medium-sized businesses, designed to help establish the basics of your brand. Often overlooked; branding is a crucial part of your business strategy.

 

Creating a Visual Story That Represents Your Brand

Your brand begins and is built upon the core concepts of your business model. It is important in the process of developing  your branding and your company image to constantly look back at the core of your company and the services/products it provides. The fundamentals should show through in every aspect of your brand, from business cards to the logo.

Analysing is the first step, before you can effectively pull everything together you must first study the principles of your business. As the owner or person in a position to build the brand for a company, you should already have a strong grasp of what the company is about. Research businesses that you would consider competition or within a similar industry. Pay close attention to their use of branding, both what works and what doesn’t.

“Brand is a noun. It is a verb. It may be about what we do. But, overall, it is all about what is in the mind – the mind of the consumer and the mind of the employee.”

Sudio Sudarsan

 

The Four Building Blocks

The following four steps are the very basic building blocks of your company’s brand. They are simple starting points designed to help you outline your branding model.

 

1. Logo

There are a few key features to focus on in your choice of logo. The imagery and how it ties into your service or products should be a constant focus.

The style and visual aesthetic of the logo will come down to careful selection of designer and how well you can communicate your vision to them. It is important to capture the flair and vision of the company.

Consider carefully what you include in the design; sometimes having the icon, business name, subheading, and tagline all crammed into a logo will not produce the clarity of service that you are seeking. Try to include just the minimum required to express your company’s message.
Have multiple versions of your logo made!

  • Full Color
  • Black & White
  • Icon with no text
  • Vertical & Horizontal styles with the business name

A good designer will make at least two versions of the full color logo, one to display on dark backgrounds and one to display on light backgrounds.

 

2. Tagline

A good tagline can describe your business in one sentence, with an optional comma in the middle. It should be short, not a sentence that goes on a mile long.

Try to think of something you could say right after your business name that when someone hears it they say “Great! I’ve been looking for someone to help me with that”.

  • Make it your own
  • Make it understandable
  • Keep it simple
  • Make a lasting impression

The goal is to create instant impact with some personality. Here are a few great examples that show how just a few words can make such an impression:

“We know money.”
AIG

“Healthy, beautiful smiles for life.”
Crest

“Empowering the Internet generation.”
Cisco Systems

 

3. Color Scheme

Color use is critical to the consistency of your branding. Your true aim should be to find one color that can be used as the key color in all of your branding. This key color can change over the years, but these “rebranding” phases can be costly and require a lot of work to change company property to match the new color.

Once you have selected one color, stop. Take your time; there’s no need to rush out and look for a new color right away. One color can look great with good use of greys, blacks and whites. It might sound boring, but the contrast it creates can be very useful.

Black and white are not colors that you should count when selecting a key color.

There is a lot to color theory, but for simplicity’s sake we will focus on complementary colors and shaded variants. Complementary colors are opposites to the key color on the color wheel. For example, blue is a complementary color to yellow. A complementary color can be used as a highlight or a secondary to your key color. Shaded variants are colors that are similar and go well with a color, such as cyan and teal. These can also be used as secondary or highlights to the key color.

 

4. Mission Statement

In the second habit in his critically acclaimed book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes briefly about the importance of a mission statement, both for businesses and for individuals. It is outlined as ideally having two parts, vision & principles:

Vision
What is your overall goal and objective? What do you want to achieve through your business? Create a solid paragraph describing these goals, including the means in which you plan to achieve them.

Principles
What are the values that your company will be run by? The core beliefs that you stand upon are essential to the representation of your business. Outline and overview where you stand and the ethics your business is founded by.

 

Consistent Brand Recognition That is Easy to Understand

Your message should be clear, it should be easy to understand, and it should be consistent across all media. Business cards, brochures, products, TV ads, websites, signs, and even the clothing you wear for business photos should be singing the same song. All aspects of your business should harmoniously speak the same message and have a constant theme.

Keep it simple; the more concise your message is the easier it will be to understand. If you sell books then your message should clearly explain that through your brand.

 

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Leonardo da Vinci

 

Clear Communication Channels with your Customers

The overall goal with your branding is to create clear and easy to use channels that facilitate communication with your customers. Expressing your company’s brand visually through branding is a way to set the tone of the conversation.

This is just the beginning, a starting place from which you can build on and grow with. Expect to have your brand evolve as the years move on. Keep in mind the core of your business and be willing to adapt to the inevitable changes it will see. This process has become so crucial to modern businesses, I urge you to sit down and take the time to build a document describing your branding plan. Using these basics of brand design you can start your journey to building a better business.

 

TLDR; Simplicity is powerful, but it takes effort and work to achieve. Focus in and narrow down the message you are trying to send. Be clear and communicate what you do to your customers in terms they can understand.

 

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Have an idea or think I missed something? Leave a comment below!

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There are 3 Comments

  1. Posted by Gabe Hanson Reply

    I really enjoyed the part on the mission statement I feel personally this is extremely important. At least in my opinion I feel it’s just as important to sell an idea as it is to sell a product and if I understood correctly that’s what branding is in essence.

    • Posted by Cody Borst Reply

      Exactly, I believe that the principles and foundations of your business drive the progress of it. It also can effect the way you communicate with your customers.

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