For small businesses, visual branding is essential. But how do you know if you’re getting it right?
Visual branding is critical to your success. But its definition can be oversimplified to a name and a logo, meaning it’s often overlooked. Before you reach out to a brand specialist, here are the key elements to think about, with a straightforward approach to branding for your small business.
Your visual identity is how you express who you are to customers. Elements such as your logo, color palette, fonts, tone of voice, advertising and motion designs all contribute to it. Branding also goes beyond the visual. The experience and feelings that people have when they engage with you are the work of branding.
Thoughtful branding helps people to recognize you and build trust with you over time. Getting this perception right will create experiences that resonate with them.
What a Logo Truly Is
A logo helps people to remember who you are. Being distinct and memorable is crucial for building a connection with your audience. It also helps people connect a brand with their benefits, values and products. People often see a logo before they're further exposed to the brand. Logos are built for instant recognition. But they also create familiarity over time.
A high-performing logo is both simple and memorable. A swoosh and a half-bitten apple are an important part of Nike and Apple's wider brand work. Winning logos can tell us more about a brand's story, too. Nike's swoosh is one of optimism and empowerment. That can translate to a positive emotional response from customers.
You might not be selling logo-laden sports gear or mobile phones. But logos are valuable to all brands, and are especially valuable to those in retail and ecommerce. They’re a great fit for social media, packaging, stationery and merchandise. A consistent logo creates a seamless experience across all of your brand's touchpoints.
For smaller businesses, affordable but impactful design help is available online. Tools like Looka and Logology are a great starting point to kick off the logo creation process. As a small business, your services and your campaigns will evolve. But your brand's logo can remain consistent and enduring. It's a great way to reinforce and anchor your identity.
Let Color Shape Your Story.
The colors you choose shape first impressions. According to research, 92% of people say color is a primary reason when purchasing a product. So there are always clear impacts on how colors affect branding for service based businesses, too.
Bright colors grab attention and feel energetic. Darker shades mostly feel more prestigious and sophisticated. A finance company might pick blues and greys to reflect stability. Differently, a tech startup could use oranges and reds to appear bold and innovative. Then there's classic complementary combos. Think navy and gold, forest green and cream, or burgundy and grey.
As color expert Jill Morton says: “You only get one chance to make a good first impression...and color makes up 60% of that.” Picking a color scheme based on who you are and what you do is critical. Free tools like HTML Color Codes can help you build a palette to use everywhere.
Typography: More Than Words On A Page
Typography conveys a brand's tone and personality. The typefaces a brand chooses will affect how we perceive them. An elegant script signals elegance, whilst bold sans-serif reflects modern minimalism. Matching typography with other brand elements helps to make your visuals feel coherent.
Classic typefaces signify a brand's heritage and longevity. New brands can use them to appear established. More modern typefaces are often used by innovators and disruptors.
Thinking about a new typeface? Choose one that aligns with your brand values and the personality you want to convey. Make sure that it's readable and versatile enough across both headlines and body copy. This will help give you some flexibility when you're creating marketing materials. A typeface can age quickly though, so it's worth thinking about the longevity a typeface family can have. The likes of Neuebel and Commercial Type are helpful resources to choose the right one for your business.
Combine These Elements For Bigger Brand Impact
A professional brand identity is an investment in your business's future, with great long-term value. A strong brand identity helps people to build an affinity with your brand. In the long term, this is great for business. Starting with your logo, typography and color palette will set the foundation for all other aspects of your branding. Creating a brand style guide will help you to create consistency across these visual elements.
In a sea of competitors, a distinctive brand stands out. So building a brand around your own business mission and vision is a way to make a brand authentically yours.
Your brand is more than just a logo. Bringing many elements together with consistency is what gives a brand a unique quality. Every time you show up, you need to put forward your brand's A-game. It's the way your brand walks, talks and sometime dances in front of your audience. Make it memorable. Ensure that your brand is the one people remember from the party, that'll get an invite to the next one.
A strong brand is your biggest ally for promotional marketing. It makes your media spend work harder, giving you extra value where the battle is most fierce. Strong branding won't create an overnight impact. But you'll be happy you made the investment when the results start to compound.