When you are your own boss you have to do it all (at least to some degree) so all the bookkeeping, billing, client estimates, the actual work, ordering supplies, and marketing of your business. And I am sure there are aspects of running a business you are not a huge fan, I say this because it is true for me, I am capable of doing it but I just don’t like it.
Take marketing, for example, there is a lot of different pieces that go into that space and certainly, a website falls into the marketing realm. I am very comfortable with that aspect otherwise I wouldn’t have opened my business. What I am talking about is some of the other bits that are in the marketing realm, and a lot of it has to do with ‘branding’.
I have done some research trying to come up with the best way to brand my business, and the topic has been touched on in some of my networking groups as we try to support each other and learn more about what we can do to build our brand. There is certainly a lot of information out there for business owners to read and work with and that is what I am starting with, there are certain aspects of branding that I wished I had thought about before I opened Blue Shutter, however, I don’t think that I have made any major mistakes.
If you are wondering what is a brand, I can assure you that you are not alone and I thought I knew what it was and I was partially correct but as I read more and talked about it more it became clear that it was so much more than I had first anticipated. There is a quote from Jeff Bezos about what a brand is.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Where to Start
When I think of a brand I automatically think of the business’ logo and there is a lot more to establishing your brand than your logo, and if I were to start again I would put some more thought into the concept of establishing my ‘brand’ before I came up with my business name and logo. That is not to say that I am not happy with them, I am but I might have made some different choices, but they would not have been radically different.
If I was just getting ready to start my business I would have thought about my ‘voice’ first, and upon reflection, I did do that, but I never wrote it down and used it as a reference for all things. Regardless of the seminar that I watched or the blog articles that I read they all say the same things (but in different ways) and the two top things that keep sticking out at me are:
- Know your voice
- Be Consistent
It sounds likes a huge thing and it is because you will use our brand voice for everything, but it isn’t big it is simply how you communicate with your customers and potential customers, specifically what tone or style is right for your business. Duct Tape Marketing describes it like this:
“Your company’s “voice” is the language and personality you and your employees will use to deliver your branding message and reach your customers. ”
You will use your ‘voice’ when creating the text on your website, your social media posts, and yes your actual voice when talking to customers. Think about how you want to sound and what sounds right for your line of work. For example, the voice that I want to convey is that I am friendly, customer oriented, and a professional that has expertise but is not intimidating.
Be Consistent on All Platforms
The voice that you use on your website should match the tone you use in social media, the colors you use should be the same everywhere, if you use a tagline use it everywhere, all your printed material (invoices, letterhead, business cards, postcards, fliers, etc) all need to be the same style.
For this item, the easiest way for me to do this was to create what I call a ‘master brand sheet’. The times that I put on this sheet were:
- font choices that I use on my website, social media images, and printed material
- color values for my logo and colors used on my website
- template for my header images on my blog
- how I represent my submark on my social media images
One of the articles that I read was on Entrepreneur.com titled “The Basics of Branding” and the author ends his article with a list of tips to get the word out once you defined your brand and he ends with this tip.
“Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can't do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.”
There are many different ways to create your brand and there are certainly businesses that specialize in that work, however, if you want to do this on your own there are plenty of resources online. I will not say which article or articles are best but I can share the resources that I have used, some are articles that I linked to above and some are not.
- Neesha Wollery How to create a brand board
- Ally B Designs (note her focus is on photographers but I found going through her information to be helpful and disregarded what wasn’t relevant to my business)
- Fresh Parks Successful Brand Building Process
- Entrepreneur.com The Basics of Branding
- Duct Tape Marketing How to Build a Small Successful Brand
- Small Business Rainmaker 10 Simple Ways to Build a Brand for Your Small Business
- 99 Designs How to create a brand style guide
Wrapping It Up
Do I have this brand thing down pat? No. Is it a work in progress? Yes. As small business owners, we have a lot on our plate and I believe that incremental progress is good, and as long as we focus on our strengths and have a strong base in which to build we will be successful. To that end, I am making small changes as I go along to tweak my business process and message.
You can also find templates to create your own 'brand sheet' online or you can simply make your own. Do what works best for you and not necessarily what you find online, because if it works for you and you like it you are more likely to acutally use it. For me that means I have a document on my letter head and lists the information I will need.
Do you have any tips you want to share about building your brand? If you have any articles that have been helpful to you, please share them in the comments on my Facebook page and let us know what you found most helpful.
NOTE: I am not being paid for my mentions of people, articles, products, or books I used above nor do I receive referral compensation. The links I provide are for your
Unless otherwise indicated I sourced the links provided while researching a post. Links that I provide at the request of another person/business will be noted, and if I am paid to provide a link I will disclose that information on the post in which it is applicable. All opinions are mine, regardless of whether or not I am compensated, and are not in any way influenced by the requesting party.
DISCLAIMER: This advice is general in nature and not to be taken as personal professional advice. This blog does not provide legal advice if you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.