Is it possible to brand your business on your own without breaking the bank? Yes, of course it is. Will you have to employ a little elbow-grease? Yes, but that’s often the case when you decide to take the D.I.Y. route. Look, there’s nothing wrong with doing things yourself, but before you jump in it’s always good to do a little research. I, like you, have a tendency to jump in and worrying about figuring it out later. Well, I’ve done that and come out on the other side. And that’s why I’ve written this post on the 5 things you need to think about before you “brand” your business.
Now of course, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to hire a branding strategist to help you think through all of the things and make certain that you hit it out of the ballpark when you launch. And if that’s the route you’d prefer to take, I’d be more than happy to help you out. To learn more about my branding strategy services, simply click here.
However, if you’re not quite ready for the big leagues, but want to look like you are, keep reading!
Branding Tips To Make Your Side Hustle Look Legit
I’m presuming that you already have a product or service and now you’re trying to figure out how to “brand” it. Listed below are 5 topics you are going to want to think about to brand your business like a pro.
NUMBER 1 – What Do You Want Your Customers To Experience?
This is the first question you have to ask yourself. It is a question that has far reaching implications. But, let’s take it at its most basic. What do you want your customers to experience when interacting with you or your online store? What do you want them to feel like when they open their packages from you? Or when they receive a questionnaire from you?
For example, let’s say you are creating a line of soothing teas. Using sepia tones and a font that conveys relaxation on everything from your website to your branding materials might be a direction to head in. Think about what you want the end result to be so that you can work towards that result as you start building your company and creating your branding.
Look at the brands you like and gravitate towards and ask yourself why? What is it about Mary Jane’s website/social media feed/branding that appeals to me?
Choose 3 of your favorite brands and go through this exercise. Write your answers down. NOW, take a step back and think about what you want your customers to feel and why. Write your answer down on a note in your phone or on a sticky note stuck to your laptop. And, if you’re working with a branding strategist/graphic designer or web designer, plan to provide them with this information as well. Why? This way you, and anyone you hire to help you build your business, understand the end goal.
NUMBER 2 – Does Your Use of Color Entice Your Audience?
Many books have been written on the power of color. And while there’s definitely a lot of truth to their findings, it’s your brand and your company – choose a color, or colors, you like and go from there. Unless you’re selling rainbow themed items, it makes sense to choose one color or two complementary colors. Use your company’s colors to help create a visual imprint on your customer.
It’s not so much about the color, or colors, that you choose that will appeal to your customers or your target audience. … What will appeal to them is your consistent and well-balanced use of the color(s) you’ve chosen to represent your company.
Anyone vaguely familiar with my stationery company, Effie’s Paper, knows that our signature color is hot pink. Our website, our social media feeds, our packaging, labels, newsletter, product inserts, pop-up shop booths and so on all use our signature color to varying degrees. Another great example is Target– without thinking you know Target’s colors are red and white. Think about your favorite sports team, you can’t think about them without thinking about their colors. Professional sports teams have done a great job of weaving their colors into every aspect of their branding. Ultimately, ou want your customers to feel the same way about your brand’s colors.
NUMBER 3 – Legitimacy Equals Consistency
The brands that draw us in are the ones that are the most consistent. They have a consistent message, point of view, color palette, newsletters, social media feeds – just about everything is consistent. They didn’t get there overnight, nor will you; Rome wasn’t built in a day. But, as you think about how to brand your business, you want to keep this vital component in mind.
For example, if you’re branding a product-based business, a great place to focus is on the consistency of your product offerings. Ask yourself – are my product offerings consistent? Would a customer be likely to buy a related product that she hadn’t planned on purchasing? The true test is the customer who comes for one thing and leaves with a number of items because they also appealed to her.
Imagery Is What Makes A Brand Feel Cohesive
I’m a sucker for beautiful imagery, who isn’t? Pinterest has become the visual version of Google. Looking for great red velvet cupcakes? Pinterest. Trying to get ideas for your dad’s 60th birthday party? Pinterest. Ok and if you’re a millennial, you’re all over Instagram scouring hashtags looking for images. A picture is worth 1000 words. Your brand story is told by the images you choose for your website, newsletter, blog and social media feeds. Do you need to hire a photographer? No. Do you need to invest in an expensive camera? Not yet.
What you do need to do is spend some time studying the images of the brands you like. What is it about their imagery that draws you in? Is it the amount of white space or lack thereof? Is it the soft filter they’re using to give all of their photos a dewy look? Are you drawn to the wood background they use in every shot?
You don’t have to hire an expensive photographer to have beautiful images. As you start, find a stock photography company whose aesthetic lines up with the one you’re planning to create. I’ve tried a bunch of them and hands down my favorite is Haute Stock – it’s a membership site that adds new collections monthly. The photography is great and Rachel Rouhana, the owner, has done a fanstatic job of insuring she has lots of imagery featuring women of color.
And let’s be honest, most of the images you see on the websites of, and in the social media feeds of, small businesses are taken with a smart phone. Yup, you heard it here. Invest in a selfie stick, maybe a tripod, a white piece of foam board and a few filter apps and you will be well on your way. It’s unlikely you’re going to get the “shot” immediately, so take lots of the same shot from different angles until you get one you like and then filter the heck out of it. If you’re looking for a deep dive on taking great smartphone photos for Instagram, I’ve got you covered – just click here.
Number 4 – Create A Compelling Brand Story
Your branding says as much about you as your “about” page or bio does. In essence, you want your branding to succinctly tell your customers what your company is about and who it’s for – fun, serious, snarky, hipster, diva, mom, tween, etc.
For example, take a look at the sock company Woven Pear’s website – their logo, their social media icons, their photography – everything about them is geared towards the millennial female customer. In fact, their brand story is so strong, that their actual “about” page only has four sentences:
“In February 2015 we saw a need for a women’s sock brand and figured we should get our foot in the door. Seriously, our socks are the best and are made of extremely high quality woven cotton. Each pear is dyed and dipped by hand to ensure a unique pop of color. We’re here to make a difference and to create a brand that will empower women to stand up and put their best foot forward.” ~Woven Pear
Crafting Your Brand Story
As you prepare to brand your business, spend some timing thinking about your brand story and who you are as a company, ask yourself the following question before crafting your “About” section:
(1) Who is your target audience?
(2) What do you want them to know about your company that might not be readily apparent?
(3) What appeals to him or her? Does she love clean lines and simplicity? If so, an overly fussy or ornate logo or website may not appeal to her.
(4) What do you want your customer to remember after they’ve read your “About” section?
NUMBER 5 – Your Brand Story Should Have A Far Reaching Impact
Your brand story extends far beyond your website and social media feeds. To properly brand your business, your brand story should be interwoven into everything from your monthly newsletters to your packaging. For a product-based business your packaging is two-fold:
(1) it’s the way your products themselves are packaged; and
(2) it’s the packaging your orders are shipped in for delivery to your customers.
How many times have you received something in the mail and been bowled over by the lovely attention to detail? Conversely, how many times has something arrived in the mail and you question if a two-year old had wrapped it? You definitely want your customers to have the former feeling!
The Devil Is In The Details
Putting together a nice presentation package – whether for your services or physical products doesn’t have to be expensive.
If you have a products based business, test the waters by shopping at stores like Target, Michael’s or Staples – buy nice tissue paper and waishi tape. There’s no need to buy in bulk until you figure out what’s going to work best for your brand. Have some labels printed at vistaprint.com or at your local Kinko’s. Do something memorable like include a handwritten thank you note.
If you’re a service provider and you want to create nice invoices, price lists, downloadables and the like, my go to design app is PicMonkey. I know a lot of people are partial to Canva, but as a graphic designer comfortable with design programs and software, I often find Canva clunky and difficult to navigate. And if you’re looking for interesting fonts and other design templates, try Creative Market.
Nice packaging is akin to buying good will, it doesn’t take a whole lot to make something pretty and your customer will appreciate the effort. Your attention to detail and thoughtfulness will speak volumes about your brand.
As you prepare to brand your business, keep these 5 things in mind. Do the recommended exercises and use the tips!! There’s no reason to re-create the wheel here sis. And, if for some reason you start to head down this path and decided you’d prefer to hire a professional, I’d be more than happy to help you out – I’d love to be a part of your success!
Stylishly yours, Kalyn
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