New Business Essentials – Establishing an Effective Brand
How Do You Want Others to See You?
We work on brand development for a lot of start-up companies and professional service providers striking out on their own, and we often get asked for advice on brand strategy and establishing branding that gets noticed. Getting off to the right start and establishing an effective brand and online presence takes effort and skill, and there are specific considerations that are individual to each business.
Determine Who You Are!
This is probably the most important thing you need as your brand identity defines who you are as a business or professional and helps you stand out in your market place. Here are some of the elements to consider as you develop an effective brand:
- Logo – the visual representation of you and/or your business, in our social age it also should include:
- Icon – a simplified, smaller version of your logo for use on social and professional networking sites
- Images – images can say a great deal about who you are
- Colors – colors bring out different emotions in people
- Fonts – keep your text easy to read and comprehend
- Voice – how you communicate directly with others online and in person
Your brand should match your target audience; if you plan to open a spa you should consider a more feminine look and colors, while a bolder approach works well for an architect or urban planner, for instance. And the local coffee shop will most likely have a much edgier logo than a financial service provider.
The key aspect of establishing an effective brand is your actual brand logo. If you think clip art or even a design from a service like Fiverr or tool like Canva can help you rise above the digital noise you better think again! If you truly want a logo that actually represents your brand vision, voice, and value here are some essential elements any brand logo must have.
Consistency is a key aspect of establishing an effective brand. Once you have found your look and voice you need to make sure that it is correctly used and reproduced online and in print. This is especially important in today’s digital age.
Stand Above the Rest!
We are on Facebook. Find our images on Instagram. Follow us on Twitter. Did you see our latest YouTube video? If you believe that this approach will get your new business noticed we have to disappoint you, sorry! In 2019 too many brands are trying to stand out by doing the same old shit as everyone else.
If you really want to stand out you need a little piece of card stock called a business card. Never underestimate the importance of a well designed high quality business card to your marketing success. No other print collateral will give you the same bang for your buck than passing out your business card everywhere you can.
At a minimum your business card should include your company name and website, your name, and your basic contact info (phone, email). If required you should also list your street or mailing address, your slogan or tagline, or your most important products or services.
To help you avoid a very busy card design or extremely small text you may want to consider a double sided or folded card.
There are numerous options available to make your new business card stand out, such as rounded corners, die-cutting, embossed or de-bossed logos, foil-stamping, using a different texture or finish paper, or having your card printed on extra heavy card stock, plastic, metal, or even wood veneer. Odd size cards can also help you stand out, but you need to remember that business cards that are larger than the traditional 3.5” x 2” size are harder to carry with you or for your customers to file.
We highly recommend that you stay away from very cheap printing options. Giving out a flimsy card that is badly printed will reflect negatively on the level of quality and service of your new business. Professional designers and printing companies can usually recommend very cost effective options to get a high quality card.
Claim Your Online Identity!
At the very least you should purchase www.yourbusinessname.com* for two (2) years or longer. Search engines like Google and Bing will not index domains that are not registered for a minimum of two (2) years. You can also register your domain for five (5) and ten (10) years; the longer the registration the higher the rank on Google.
* Depending on the nature of your business you may want to register a .org for non-profits or a .edu domain for an accredited college or other educational institution.
The most valuable domain name is one indicating the name and the nature of your business. abccompany is not as effective as as abcplumbing or abcplumbingcompany, for instance. Short and easy to remember domain names work better, and we recommend avoiding different (cute) spellings and characters like hyphens or dashes as part of your domain name as well.
In 2019 non-traditional domain extensions are both more common, and more effective in setting your brand apart. So don’t feel that in order to establish an effective brand you need to have a dotcom domain. This may actually work against you in a crowded digital market place. Depending on your business, service or product you may very well benefit from a domain such as .design, .coffee, .web, or even .porn.
If you are interested in learning more about both traditional and non-traditional domain names, and how they evolved since 1995, check out this cool domain names infographic!
Did you know that:
- You do not “own” your domain, you “register” or “lease” it for a period of time. Think of it like leasing a car. At the end of your “lease” you have an option to renew; otherwise the domain reverts back to the available pool. We recommend GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com) as a domain registrar.
- You can register as many domains as you wish. Different domains can be redirected to point at any other domain
- Registering or “leasing” a domain does NOT include a place to host a website. In most cases it is not practical to host your own site, so you will need a hosting services provider. We can host your new website for you, or you can use a third party service provider. We recommend WP Engine (www.wpengine.com) or BlueHost (www.bluehost.com)
Build Your Online Presence!
Your prospective customers and clients will look at your online presence before they contact you. If you don’t have some sort of social media presence and website chances are your prospective customers and clients will look somewhere else. Therefore having an effective online presence is essential for any business.
An effective online presence is not a single thing. Successful brand development is a combination of different elements. As a minimum we recommend some or all of the following:
- Website – even a simple one page site that tells your visitors who you are, what you do, and how to contact you is much better than nothing at all. A generic “Site Coming Soon” message, a page showing just a string of server code, or a page showing advertisements of your web host virtually guarantee your visitors will move on to your competitors, and that is definitely not what you want!
- Facebook Business Page – this is where potential customers and clients can interact with your brand. Please don’t use your own page to promote your business, it violates Facebook’s rules.
- LinkedIn Company Page – this is where professionals of all types look for resources and to make connections. By sure to establish and link your own professional LinkedIn profile to your company profile.
- Depending on the nature of your business or organization you should also establish a presence on Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Pinterest, and others.
Final Thoughts on Establishing an Effective Brand
Having these essentials will go a long way to getting your new business off to a great start, and you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to get them. And remember, there is nothing wrong with starting small! As your business grows you can always add additional online and print components to help you with your marketing efforts. Just make sure that all the pieces follow your established brand.
The main thing to remember as you work on establishing an effective brand for your business or product company is that you are doing this not for your own tastes, but those of your target audience. Having an effective brand can go a long way to increase your brand visibility, including your website engagement. So listen to your audience, and fine tune your branding as you go along. Brand development is not something you do once and forget about it. It is an ongoing process. We are here to help.
So, How Is Your Branding?
Now that you read this post how do you feel about your brand strategy? Did it help you in establishing an effective brand? Or do you feel that your brand development may be missing the mark? If so, what do you think is missing from your brand voice and image? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well, and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
Espresso Digital Blog