Branding is not something many small businesses normally put much care or thought into. If you’re a gardener, café owner or beauty therapist, there are more important day-to-day tasks involved in running a business and branding just isn’t very high up on the list.
But what is branding and why should it matter to you? In many ways, your brand IS your business. It is about how you provide your services, the relationship you have with your customers, your reputation and how you maintain it. Branding is the image you give out, it should make your business appealing and make you stand out.
So branding is highly important.
You may be working hard to provide the best service and the best products with some success, but if you put the same amount of effort into the visual aspect of your business, you could become so much more successful.
Your visual branding, whether it be your logo, business stationery, website or shop front, is the first thing the public will see and the biggest hurdle for them to overcome before they become a customer. Why is it a hurdle? Because it is normally your visual branding that will decide whether or not people will walk through your door, and indeed what kind of people.
Having created brands for businesses of all sizes over the last decade, I have seen well-run businesses struggle and fail because people simply aren’t walking through the door, and in most cases this is due to bad first impressions. But as a small business, it can be difficult to look professional and trustworthy, easily falling into the trap of trying to look like you offer everything to everyone.
It’s becoming a trend for big brands to make themselves look like small independent businesses, to appeal to those who like to support the small locals. But as they do so, it’s also a task for small businesses to look as credible as those bigger brands.
How do you do this on a budget? It is tempting to use quick, easy and cheap solutions to build your visual identity. You may try designing your logo in Microsoft Word, using familiar fonts and pluck a favourite colour from thin air. You’ll design your own business cards using VistaPrint and while you’re at it, choose a cheap website template you can just fill with content. You’ve probably spent about £50, you think it looks great and so does your family and friends.
But these days, people are becoming incredibly savvy when it comes to branding and design as they are with advertising, and unfortunately many small business owners are blind to just how bad their branding is. People won’t tell you how unprofessional your business looks, they’ll just go to someone who looks more credible.
Good design is based on many factors, and trends are changing all the time. Pre-designed templates look outdated and are often overused. There are cases where businesses look the same as their competitors because they all use the same website template! For a potential customer it is confusing and frustrating. Pre-designed templates offer no security for your brand – there is nothing stopping a competitor opening up next door with the same business cards and the same website design. Although hopefully that would never happen, it does make your business vulnerable.
If you want to look professional and trustworthy, the simple fact is cheap logos and pre-designed websites and stationery simply won’t give the right impression. Ignoring this simple fact will make the long-term growth and success of your business even more difficult. How many big, successful businesses have you seen using services such as VistaPrint for their business stationery design?
If you want to look as credible as a well-known brand, do you need to spend as much money as them? Well, no. While Norwich Designer can’t compete with the prices offered by the likes of VistaPrint, we do provide something different; the vital ingredients for a professional, credible visual brand. We look at your business, your values, your aims and the type of people you want to attract. We also look at what your competitors are doing, then come up with an identity which sets your business apart from them.
When designing your stationery, we consider the type and quality of paper being used. With your logo we provide a colour and usage guide which you can provide to other designers and printers going forward, helping you maintain a consistent brand. Most importantly, full copyright is transferred to you on completion, so you get to own and control your brand.
This is a level of detail your business needs to succeed and it simply cannot be provided by those websites offering pre-designed templates. Because we work entirely from our home studio, cutting out all the costs and fees a large design agency faces, small businesses can benefit from professional branding at cost-effective rates.