So your business has a name. Great. Maybe you even have a logo. A color scheme. An idea or emotion you try to convey. Whether you have some of these branding elements or all of them (or none of them), let’s take a minute to evaluate your brand identity.
First, let’s point out that a lot has changed over the past 10 years. If your business has been around for a while, the technology to market your business is vastly different than when you first established yourself. So, consider how your brand identity is working in today’s market and how you might be able to make adjustments to better serve your business.
Using a logo, tagline, color palette or packaging that was carefully thought out and designed specifically to convey the identity of your business is the cornerstone of your brand. It is likely the first impression your prospects will see and should represent your company, stand out among the competition and leave a lasting impression.
What’s in a name?
If you’re just using your business name as your brand, and it happens to be a generic business name, like “John Doe’s Painting,” you might want to think of how to enhance your brand name. Some companies use names with adjectives to demonstrate their commitment to their work, like “Premier Painting.” Some companies go with a name that will be first in alphabetical listings like “AAA Painting Company”. Think of what might work best to represent your business and reach your prospects.
Be sure to do some research and see if someone else already has your business name. Check to see if the domain name is available so that people can find your business online and not some other website. Put some thought into your name and how you’ll best reach your target market. If you are a mature business and your simple name has served you well, go ahead and stick with it. Maybe start using a tagline that further explains your business or differentiates you from your competitors, like “John Doe’s Painting – 50 Years of Superior Service,” or creating an appealing logo to help build recognition.
Develop a brand image.
Once you have an appropriate name that you love and conveys your business and its products or services, you can create an image to further set yourself apart and help your business become more recognizable over time. A brand image, or logo is a great opportunity to have a visual representation of your business and what you offer. Be careful to avoid trying to cram everything into your logo. It is just the tip of the iceberg of your marketing and should convey meaning over time through the use of all of your creative marketing and through the delivery or your products or services. It should demonstrate some of meaning at first impression, but also demonstrate greater meaning over time from experiences.
While anyone can create a logo with some basic computer skills and clip-art, be careful to avoid this easy, low-cost branding. Because it is so easy and so low-cost, your prospects can interpret your business as being amateur or unprofessional. Your logo should not be something they could have made better themselves. Hire a professional designer to work collaboratively with you to create a brand image that is professional and conveys your business. Professional designers have a better understanding of color, typography, graphics and visual interpretation through a variety of media (something might look great on paper, but look terrible on a TV screen or embroidered on shirts). A good designer has these skills, but will cost money. Professional branding can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000+. It is worth the investment to have a professional develop your brand image with you, but shop around to find the right person to fit your budget and your needs.
Create a cohesive, consistent brand identity.
One major mistake I have seen many businesses make is using their brands inconsistently. A good designer who develops your brand image will give you information on brand use. (This is something you might want to ask prior to hiring a designer). Your brand use will dictate when and how to use your logo, what fonts to use and what colors to use. I know you’re asking, “Is this brand is suddenly in charge of everything, or what?” But, using your brand image and the elements of your brand (like fonts, colors and specific graphics) consistently is what helps to build your brand and build your business. The font, color and graphic pieces of your brand should all fit together nicely and should be able to be used in all of your creative work, packaging, signage and promotional pieces.
Using your brand consistently over time will help your image and your business become easily recognizable and relatable over time. Ideally, your existing customers and clients as well as your prospects will see your brand and understand what it means, who you are, what you offer, how you operate and the promise you deliver on.