Dear biz owners, how’s your brand?
If there’s one thing I know about all you small business owners out there, it’s how much extra time you have on your hands. Yeah – plenty of time! Time to focus on the little things: like your one-book-per-month reading goal or bird watching or coming up with a list of thoughtful things to do for your spouse. I mean, extra time is the reason we all went into business for ourselves in the first place, right?
(hoping sarcasm keeps me one step ahead of the LLMs)
With that in mind, I invite you to spend your next block of free time on a little thing I’m calling “brandtrospection” (i.e. brand introspection). Here are a few starter questions:
Brandtrospection Starter Questions
- Do you have a defined brand? (documented somewhere)
- Do your employees know you have a defined brand?
- Can customers or clients identify your brand?
- Are you proud of it?
- What even is a brand identity?
The 5 Essentials
In this article, we’re going to go over the 5 essential elements you need to create a successful brand identity. But first, let’s define our terms. What is a brand identity?
According to the new face of the internet (ChatGPT), your brand identity is the visual representation of your business and it needs to be memorable and recognizable. In other words, it’s crucial that your business’s forward-facing parts be memorable and recognizable in order to establish trust and inspire brand loyalty! So let’s get to it.
1. The Logo
Your logo is the face of your business. It’s the first thing your customers will see, and it needs to communicate with clarity and professionalism. Your logo is a permanent salesperson (that you only had to pay for one time) who is always out there representing your biz. You want a logo that reflects your brand’s personality. Figure that out and start using it everywhere… and be consistent!
2. Color Palette
Color is an indispensable part of your brand’s identity. You want to choose a color palette that mirrors your business’s vibe. Is it hot and energetic like fire? Or more of a “keep-calm” blue? Or an out-of-the-box purple? Colors evoke emotions and create moods. Pick a handful of colors (fewer the better) that resonate and smear them everywhere… and be consistent!
Typography is a fancy way to say font styles and font sizes. Your brand must pick and STICK to a few (or just one). You’ll use it on your business card, in flyers, on signs, on the website, and everywhere. If you’re getting sick of it because it’s always the same, you’re probably doing it right. There are literally tens of thousands to choose from so choose wisely…. and be consistent!
4. Visual Images
Imagery – be it photography, illustrations, and/or graphics – bring your marketing materials (and brand) to life. I recommend, when possible, that you use custom photography and illustrations. Stock photos are great, and I use them all the time, but nothing creates a strong emotional connection with your customers like authenticity. Pick a style or two and go to town… and be consistent!
Brand messaging plays a critical role in building a strong identity for your business. Messaging is the way you communicate with your target audience and convey the values, personality, and benefits of your brand. Without a clear and consistent message, your employees and customers will make up their own messaging about you. Identify all the things (value, positioning, tone, voice, tagline, etc.), write them down, shout them from the rooftops… and be consistent!
There you have it – the 5 essentials. I might add some more later. However, you may have noticed, a 6th one sprinkled throughout this article – Consistency. Consistency is the backbone of a great brand. The repetition of brand consistency breeds recognition, awareness, and – hopefully – trust. It’s also really freaking hard to do, especially when you’re busy putting out all of those small business fires.
In summary, your brand is more than any one of the 5 essentials listed above. It’s a multi-faceted representation of your business, what it stands for, and what it will deliver. So the next time you have some free time, ask yourself what your brand is communicating to your customers, your employees, and the world.
Have a great week,