Does this scenario sound like you: “What’s all this talk about my brand? I’m just a small business in a local community. I mean, that branding stuff is for all those big companies with big budgets…it’s not THAT important and I can’t afford to do that!” — If so, you are not alone.

Branding is important for business – and small businesses is no exception. It should be taken just as seriously as the big-box branding because, in all likelyhood, you are competing against them online even if you don’t have an online presence. Small business branding can be fun and more expressive because they don’t have to go through a huge chain of command or a ton of cash to do it. Also, you have the opportunity to provide a pleasant, in-person experience that can help sway buyers to shop local.

Okay, it might seem like a straight-forward answer, but what exactly is a brand?

Branding is all things that comprise your company. It’s something to invest in but often the first thing to get cut when dollars are tight. From logos and flyers to customer service, websites and the possible physical space your store takes up — virtually every aspect of your company helps to convey your messaging and tone. However, the visual identity of your brand is most-often the first interaction with a potential customer. Just like the proverb goes — “first impressions are the most lasting.” And in today’s world with the numerous choices we have for everything, it is important to capture that first impression.

Take a trip to any small to mid-size community and see what I mean. We often call them “Mom and Pop” stores, but these small businesses make up over half of our economy. We can spot their ads in local newspapers, signs, billboards, flyers etc. a mile away due to their local, shall we say, design aesthetics, or lack thereof. — Doubt me? — Compare them next to a national or chain brand of similar service and notice how you feel when you compare them side-by-side. You can see and “feel” the difference in that brand experience scenario. 

Top Three Things That Make Brands Work 

Oh, what a difference a brand makes. Well-thought out and well-designed brands have graphics and language that…

1. Is clean and simple – Brands that have cleaner and more direct messaging visually communicate professionalism and confidence, building trust in the brand. Often, small business brands try to focus on the literal service they provide, for example a hardware store may feel compelled and limit themselves to use a hammer in their logo because they sell tools, where a national, more recognizable brand would choose to be more be slightly ambiguous, focusing on design elements that exude strength, power, and impact – exuding the feeling of the brand as opposed to a literal interpretation of what they sell. 

2. Speaks to the customer – Brands that are memorable and connect consumers to the product or service gives an appropriate impression. The messaging, accompanying the brand, clearly communicates that same impression. Not only through the visuals, but also through tone of messaging.

3. Is consistent – Using a brand consistently improves its recognition. Through repetitive use and advertising, brands instill confidence in their clientele. Even a poorly designed brand used consistently can have positive results, but they could build an even better brand with strong visual communication.

The customers have the final say in what your brand is. So, no matter if the impression is accurate or not, it can have long term effects. This is why it is important to look at all aspects of your brand to make sure they are simple and consistently speaking to the customers. This will help insure those first impressions are good. Invest in the creative, and when considering building a brand where you are looking to gain trust in your customers, the first impression lays that foundation.

Josh Nelson
Creative Director