Branding is more than a logo or the colors you use for all of your marketing materials. Your business has its own unique personality like you and every customer who turns to you for help.
1. Make a list of your values, your beliefs and your mission in this lifetime and infuse all of your work with this deep sense of purpose.
2. Look up the definitions of your business name and all of the words you use for taglines, motto's and other marketing copy to make sure they are the right words with a strong presence and not simple fillers or words commonly misunderstood or misconstrued.
3. Create a unique sign off phrase to end phone calls, your voicemail message, email signatures, and depart with people in person. Think like The Truman Show, "and in case I don't see you--good afternoon, good evening and good night!"
4. Define your brand with 3 words or less (one is totally incredible!) that directly relate to your business mission. If people were asked to describe your company in 3 words or less, what would they say? This is a very fun survey question, or conversation starter with customers at checkout.
5. Write one sentence describing what your company does every day to serve your customers and clients using your 3 brand words after you have confirmed their definition is parallel to your mission and add it to your About page on your website or make a nice custom printed sign to hang in your place of business for customers to read. Bonus: have it on your shop window, main entrance or even a business vehicle!
6. Make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct in every publication online and offline to increase credibility.
7. Ask customers to write reviews for your store, commercials, website or social media posts to share with potential buyers.
8. Write a guest post on blogs directly related to your industry where other potential clients and customers hang out. Make sure you are only asking people you will not be competing with directly or indirectly. this is a partnership opportunity where both of you can cross promote one another, not try to steal readers, buyers or investors.
9. Find ways to incorporate your real signature and/or your handwriting if it is clear and easily legible into your work for a more genuine, personal connection.
10. Use the letters of your business name and define it with characteristics of your brand personality. (Example: My marketing business for local small businesses where I live is called 3-C Services which stands for Community Conscious Consumers [the 3-C part] and
11. Look up symbols or correspondences for the 3 words in your brand personality and incorporate those into your logo or other brand designs to add deeper meaning with implied words! Sneaky!!
12. Create a branding board using the 5 most commonly used colors from your existing logo, website, previous social media posts, physical products and any tangible marketing materials like business cards, brochures, flyers, posters, store front signage and packaging and see if matches the colors you thought were your branding colors. If you didn't have specific branding colors picked out before, confirm these are colors you enjoy looking at for long periods of time. Work to make everything cohesive with these 5 colors.
13. Make sure black and white are two of the 5 colors in your branding board. If they aren't eliminate two others to help simplify your brand. The point of branding colors is to increase potential client's and customer's brand recognition when they see your marketing out in the wild. Think of strong examples like Tiffany Blue, a green blazers for the Masters, golden McDonald's arches, school colors and your favorite sports teams. A well defined brand is simplified as much as possible to stand out in a sea of inconsistencies and disorganized competitors.
14. Figure out the exact hex codes for these colors and make sure all of your marketing materials online and off line are using these exact shades of your branding colors. You can even pick a custom shade of black and white that is not #000000 or #FFFFFF. Make sure you get the RGB numbers and CMYK ratios too! Save them in the notes app on your phone, email them to yourself, put a sticky note on your computer monitor, make a copy for your planner and hang a small sign on your wall or filing cabinet to make sure you are staying consistent everywhere you leave your mark.
15. Use a bold color and a complimentary color as well as a contrasting color. From season to season, you may need to use additional shades of these colors for special projects. For fashion brands, magazines and other printed publications and various businesses that follow color trends like the Pantone Color of the Year, find ways to continue incorporating your branding colors with these colors in a cohesive way. This is another reason white and black are ideal neutrals for your palettes. Most colors have an assortment of flattering complimentary colors and unique contrasting partners, but make sure to check them on a variety of digital devices and screens at a range of brightness levels to make sure nothing clashes!
16. The rainbow is not a color, but it is a pattern. Make sure you rainbow is tinted with hues that compliment your branding colors so they do not clash when they are combined in designs. (Example: a rainbow background with a shade of blue used as the title font, red used for the subtitle font and yellow used for the main body text but none of them match the hues of the rainbow or blend in and fade into the background.)
17. Research the psychology of color and the meanings or correspondences associated with your branding colors. Do these deepen your brand personality? Green is linked to envy, jealousy and illness; however, it is also associated with environment, ecological causes and the green movement. Purple is often referred to as a royal color for nobility. Blue can be connected to sadness or depression, something cold, the sky, water or someone/something that is reliable, dependable and honorable. This goes on and on. Do you research and avoid using any colors that could be associated with baby excrement.
18. If you or your employees do not wear uniforms, find subtle ways to work your branding colors into your wardrobe, your accessories and your personal branding materials such as a business card holder, lipstick, lighter or tool of your trade like a unique hammer handle, hard hat or computer skin. These seemingly simple or even stupid suggestions make a lasting impact on strangers or potential business partners, investors and community leaders when you show up in meetings, at conferences and special events or at the gym, the grocery store or the coffee shop on the weekend.
19. Find fun ways to add your branding colors to your business! Buy balloons, pens, hats, postage stamps, doormats, or candy that match your branding. Find thoughtful gifts such as a flowers, gift bags, ribbons and even a unexpected items that correspond with your branding colors and solidify your brand purpose. Make sure to keep in mind how alcohol and tobacco products influence the overall perception of your brand. Don't include mini bottles of wine, champagne or special beers if you also partner with a 12-step program, volunteer for MADD, SADD or even DARE. This also goes for candies and unhealthy snacks if your main initiatives involve advocating for healthy snacks and school meals for students in your community, a gym or personal trainer business or even a rainforest advocacy program against deforestation and a lack of unsustainable practices to acquire ingredients for these types of snacks. I know it seems trivial, but if someone can argue about it, they will find you and try to start drama.
20. Add patterns and other visually interesting textures to diversify your overall aesthetic, but keep it consistent and cohesive throughout your marketing. Maybe you own a mustard yellow couch that is the unofficial brand mascot of your business. It is incorporated into your logo, your store sign and your marketing photos throughout your website and various advertisements for your business. Don't start adding a bunch of elements that distract or dilute your brand imagery. When I had my Etsy business, I used a green, Bartlett pear as my logo. It was complimented with a bold Kelly green and a lighter shade of chartreuse that created a soothing, yet energetic ombré effect together. All of these colors worked together or on their own, and when people saw a green, Bartlett pear they thought of my business.
21. These are suggestions, tips and tricks to increase your brand recognition. The main point is to keep your visual aesthetic consistent, cohesive, clutter-free and clear. If people can't read it, or they confuse you with your competitors, you miss out on a sale and potentially a loyal customer for life. These are not guidelines and most brands evolve overtime. Be willing and accepting of changes that feel right when they present themselves. Fonts aren't specific components in the category of color, but yellow font can be nearly impossible to read on most backgrounds. Any color font is hard to read if you aren't thoughtful about copy placement. Always ask for multiple opinions from people you respect. If you don't feel confident in your ability to discern these types of details in your business, find a graphic designer who has created work aligned with your general business aesthetic with a strong sense of color theory and good eye for details.
22. If you decide to rebrand, try not to choose a completely new color scheme. Surveys are an excellent way to ask customers and clients what they associate with your brand on a symbolic, visual basis. It's like having a mascot, a signature scent or a specific hairstyle you're known for only to get a complete makeover. Can you imagine Dolly Parton becoming a red head or shaving her head? Would you expect Doritos to release a purple chip that smells like lavender or vanilla bean? Does Coca-Cola sell as much when it's clear? Do you prefer drinking brown water? Me neither.
23. Support a cause that aligns with your mission, your values and your target market. Schedule periodic fundraisers on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
24. Partner with a civic or community organization who can benefit from your products or services.
25. Donate your time regularly at a non-profit or charitable organization in your community.
26. Include a cause marketing campaign in your sales promotions. Donate a minimum amount of all sales to the cause(s) connected to your business' brand personality.
27. Support local small businesses and your fellow entrepreneurs as much as possible.
28. Advocate for equality.
29. Share stories with younger generations about the hard work, struggles and dedication it took to become a successful business owner. Teach them the value or connecting with mentors and experts who can help them learn, grow and develop lasting relationships.
30. Set up a trust fund for a scholarship program to be awarded to a high school students with a financial need who wish to attend college or a trade school in your industry.
31. Create paid internships and training programs for high school students and young adults who need work experience.
32. Design a customer loyalty program that rewards frequent buyers and referrals.
33. Keep a list of mailing addresses for your customers and send them thank you cards, birthday cards, or other seasonal greeting cards to show how much you appreciate their support.
Building a brand is one of my favorite parts about creating a business. The personality of your business is much like a formidable child you get to birth into the world. You have the ability to choose everything you love and combine it while avoiding all of the things you dislike to make something in your image.
Harvesting the rewards from your efforts will feel more sincere and genuine when you build your business on the foundation of feelings and favorites. These intuitive tasks in business can often be the hardest to promote to others who don't share your unique vision. Stay true to your convictions and your intentions.
Allow your dreams to develop before you like a photograph, but leave space for the unexpected. You never know what may leave a legendary impression on your business, like hand prints solidified in concrete.