When you start a business it’s important to take the time to consider how you want to represent your business to the world. To do this you will need to ask yourself questions about the theme and direction you have planned for your business. Does your merchandise fall into a specific category? Is it cute? Sophisticated? Fun? Masculine? Feminine? Neutral? There are hundreds of categories and your merchandise may not fall into only one, but it helps if you pick just a few to define it. These categories then help define the colors and images you create for your logo, banners, website, letterhead, business cards and other printed materials.
There are several reasons why branding is so important to your business success. First, in many cases seeing your branding will be a customer’s first contact with your company. What do you want it to say about you and your merchandise? If the colors are bright and cheerful that may speak to a parent or child. If they are earth tones, they may resonate with a more natural type of customer. If you choose feminine colors they may be attractive to women looking for a specific type of product or certain shopping experience.
A good way to come to a decision about what colors to choose is to look at other businesses to determine what you like, what you don’t like and what may work best for your company. Of course, you don’t want to steal another person’s brand design and color choices. That would completely defeat the purpose of having your own unique brand image. However, you can use the experience to help determine the number and intensity of colors and the general color palette associated with different types of merchandise. This is also true about picking the shape and design of your logo.
Once you have the different aspects of your branding materials developed, creating a style guide for your business is a good idea. More than that, it is a way to keep your brand consistent. A style guide is like a design board with images of the patterns and colors, logos, fonts and a template for all your printed materials defining spacing and positioning of your logo, company name, contact information, etc.
At Psyched to Sell Crafts, ours used to be pristine, but is now covered with color Hex codes, notes on improvements and updates. It’s a wonderful dynamic resource for everyone on staff and it keeps us all using the most current version of our brand standard. Branding also includes how you will approach your content. Having a planned commentary of how you describe your business, the tone of your written material and the way you approach customers is also part of your overall brand strategy.
One of the most important aspects to branding your business is so customers can recognize your business on sight. Even in the smallest detail, consistency counts. Therefore, it’s important to keep your style guide updated and to refer to it often. If you are going to promote through social media, making sure you have a clear and distinctive profile picture or icon that fits with your branding is essential. That is how friends, acquaintances and potential customers will be able to pick out your messages from the rest.Now, all of this is not to say that if you already have your brand image in place that you can’t make changes. There are two ways to approach this. Some businesses ease in changes, making them incrementally so as the changes occur, their brand is still recognizable to their customers. Other businesses take a more vigorous approach and make sweeping changes across their brand announcing it to their customers with the launch of their new look. Whichever approach you take, be sure to make the same changes across all of your printed material, websites and any other images that represent your business. A friendly, “Hey, check out the new look I’ve created to go along with the new direction of the products I’ve just released!” can not only let people know you’ve changed your branding, but can also renew interest in your merchandise.