Small Business Branding

Local business owners must account for their image online, in print, and via word-of-mouth. Online directories and social networks present business owners with dozens of listings to keep track of, so it’s easy to lose touch with other mediums. Keeping a consistent image across every medium helps create brand recognition and increase brand awareness – the more times a customer sees your business, the more they become familiar with it. When choosing from a list of similar businesses, the customer is then more likely to choose the one they recognize. Below, we’ll discuss two methods for developing your brand by keeping your image aesthetically consistent.

Develop Your Brand Using Logos, Icons and Artwork

Creating a logo can be as simple as selecting a typeface, or as complicated as spending thousands of dollars with a team of professionals to create a high-speed, low-drag work of art.  Some business owners like the way the name of their business looks in a specific typeface, and endeavor to match that font for every expression of your brand. If this is your preference, consider playing around with the character spacing and dimensions in a typeface program, and save the results in a jpeg. You can then use this as a logo for all of your advertising needs.

Another effective branding tool is the icon. Used alone or in conjunction with the company name, an icon helps your customers immediately recognize your brand. Consider the Apple icon with the bite missing, the Shell Gasoline clamshell, the McDonald’s golden arches, the Nike swoosh, the Target target, the Texaco star — the list goes on and on. Icons are easily recognized at a glance, letting you know you’ve found what you’re looking for before you’re even close enough to read the billboard or other marketing asset. Creating an icon doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive; it can be as simple as selecting something from the special characters of your typeface.

Like logos and icons, carefully chosen artwork can help define your brand image.  A wide variety of creative and interesting stock images can be purchased for a nominal fee, depending on the usage, from places such as Shutterstock. Select images that convey the emotions you want to evoke around your business — serenity and calm for a day spa or motion and energy for a fitness facility. Artwork does not have to be complex; it can be as simple as a pleasing geographic pattern. Artists usually provide a number of variations on the same piece, from simple to complex, so that you can use them in a variety of different mediums while keeping a consistent feel to your local business brand.

Achieving Familiarity through Typeface and Color Combinations

Once you have created a brand that you feel really represents your business best, stick with it. This includes your choice of typeface and colors. Select specific company colors and stick with them. Colorsontheweb.com is a helpful place to start, allowing you to “spin the color wheel” and see three random color combinations at a time.

Note that each color is identified by a set of numbers, such as 5ee4bd, which is a turquoise hue. That is the color’s web-based identification number. This number can be plugged into a color conversion site to find a corresponding combination of cyan, magenta, yellow and black values, which will provide the same color in print media.

Consistent use of selected colors will help customers readily identify your brand. Consider Bank of America’s consistent hues of red, white and blue, Best Buy’s bright yellow tags and royal blue backgrounds, and Coca Cola’s iconic fire-engine red. These brands would look odd and unfamiliar if the hues were changed even just a little bit.

Similarly, choosing a consistent typeface will give your brand a familiar feel, no matter where it’s viewed. Keep in mind, typefaces vary tremendously, and often depend on a user’s operating system. This is why you should create your own logo, even if it’s just your business name in your favorite typeface, and save it as a jpg. That way it will always come out the same, no matter the other typefaces used in the brand.

Small type can more easily be read in a clean, san-serif font, such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana, while headlines stand out better in more intricate typefaces like Georgia, Palatino or Times New Roman. A complete overview of standard fonts common to all versions of Windows and Mac can be found here. You should always specify three choices of font, so that the browser can default to the second or third choice if the first is not available.  Otherwise it may default to a completely different type style and completely change the appearance.

Local Business Branding: Keep it Simple, and Keep it Consistent

Avoid the impulse to select a rainbow of colors and a variety of different fonts for your brand and website. Not only will this junk up the page, but it will confuse the customer who is looking for consistency. Keeping a consistent image across all of the various mediums for your business brand will lead to brand recognition, which creates familiarity trust and customer loyalty.