When starting a new small business, a number of things are to be considered in order to increase your chances in succeeding. Building a brand is not as complicated as one would think, you simply have to take some small and easy steps that will help you get to where you want to be.
If you are reading this blog, it is either because you are researching setting up a business, are considering starting up a business or are in the process of setting up a business. You may have even already started a business and looking to improve your branding and marketing so that you can improve your processes and Return On investment.
When you are first dreaming or thinking about starting a business, you are doing it because you know that you have a skill or a product or a solution that you believe in. Your trust that you have what it takes to go into business and succeed. What you need to succeed is customers and a lot of them!
Customers don’t just come to you because you are in business. If they do not know who you are or what you do, they won’t come and in return, you will close your doors very quickly!
You need to build a brand that symbolizes who you are, what you do and what you want your customers to know.
I recently drove past a van that was absolutely beautiful. The name of the business happened to be a Mediterranean Family Name. The van was completely vinyl wrapped with images of Cherry Tomatoes splashing into some white liquid. No slogan, no information and no website, just a mobile number but it looked good.
It grabbed my attention because it looked good. As I was driving with my kids in the back, my 11 year old daughter also saw the van and said to me: “Dad, that is a beautiful van but they are silly because I don’t know what they are selling. Is that bad marketing dad?”.
Well, an 11 year old girl that is not even in high school yet loved the van but wanted to know what they sold. As it happens, we got home, jumped on the computer and attempted to find out who the company was and what they sold. We were totally intrigued.
As it happens, we found the company in the 11th page of Bing and on the 13th page in Google and wanted to give up after the 3rd page but we made it a project to find who they were because we really wanted to know what they sold. As it happens, the website was equally as pretty as the van but it had much more content and information on the first page. The website clearly defined what the company did on the first page and in the headers: “Al natural Greek yoghurt, Years of Family tradition”. Clearly, the company sold yogurt… We did not have to look very far to know exactly what the company was about, yet the Van did not sell anything and did not promote anything at all.
A complete Vinyl Wrap completed by an industry professional would cost anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000, depending where and who you are buying it from. If you are doing a complete wrap on a car, you would expect the most bang for your money. You certainly want your brand to stand out, you want to be noticed. You must also become relevant so that potential buyers recognise who you are or at least discover who you are so that they one day give you a go!
The reason why I mentioned this is because the above story clearly shows that someone did not follow the basic rules of marketing and promotions and because of that, they are potentially not securing the customers they should. They looked that good, I was willing to give their product a go, if I had known it was Natural Greek Yoghurt.
Where should you start?
Well, it is prety simple. Follow the here-below little steps and you will be on your way to having the right elements for your brand:
1- Strategise from the start
From the start, to help you create a logo, a brand and a style, you need to write down all the things that are relevant to your industry, the products or the solutions you are selling.
If you are a plumber looking to start a plumbing business, generally, what first comes to mind is a tap, water, pipes, tools and toilet. The colours associated with plumbers are blue, acqua, black and brown.
Look around for font styles, colours that match, details that are important in a logo that is recognizable and does not age. It is highly recommended that you look at what your competitors are doing and how they present themselves. Judge the good, the bad and the ugly and make sure you keep copies of the ones that did match your expectations for your business and your industry. (You’re not going to use a lightglobe if you are a plumber but you may like what you see and possibly can adapt the logo or brand to your business with your credentials.)
2- Creating a logo
Get your logo created by a professional designer. Always ask your designer for samples relevant to your industry. Creativity is important however relevance is more. Provide the designer with as much guidance as possible, even though they will bring a lot of ideas to the table, the brand is unique to you and you only. Provide your designer with all the research you have done and all the ideas you have in order to inform them of your expectations. A good designer will always ask you a lot of questions, don’t think of the questions of the burden, they are education for your designer and these ideas allow them to have creative inspiration. If they don’t ask many questions, they are not a good designer and you need to make a decision to stick with them or choose another. A logo is the basis of your brand however it is not the linchpin. The Logo sets the tone for everything you are about and everything you are going to create however if your designer is creating your logo, do not let them get too ahead of the brand and ideas, push them to stick to the logo and logo only. The rest will come once you have formulated who you are and where your foundation lays.
3- Market Research
By now, you should really know who your clients are and why they would come to you. If not, your really need to think why they would come to see you as opposed to one of your competitors. Again, as an example, you are a plumber. When a customer is looking for a plumber, why should they pick you. In their mind, they need a washer replaced and as far as they are concerned, any plumber will do the job. Well, you need to inform your client why they should pick you. Why are you so special and why would anyone use you…
Market research is one of the most important steps in setting up a successful business and it is the step that is the most important in setting up your business strategy which in turn will measure your success over time.
Market research will help you find out what sets you apart from your competitors. It will help you understand whether there is room in the marketplace for another business or person (That is you of course) and this will help you understand how you can best promote yourself to the customers you really want. For instance, you are the world’s best butcher and you know everything there is to know about meats. You have just moved to a little country town because you wanted a change and the money you got for your house in Sydney allows you to set up a small business. You have arrived in this little country town and you open a butcher shop. After weeks of very low traffic activity, you realise that you have moved to Australia’s largest Vegan Town…. You’re still the best butcher, you probably have the best products and you probably know a lot more than your Woolworths Butcher BUT, you did not do your market research before investing your $150,000 into opening your butcher shop. Do you think you should have done your research first before jumping in knee deep? I know this is an extreme case but it does happen.
When doing your market research, you really need think of who you are as a business Do you want to grow it, do you want to stay small, do you want to get really big, do you want to be very comfortable, etc. Only you know the answer as only you know your true capabilities. Don’t lie to yourself… If you cannot do it yourself, can you afford to bring someone in who can. There is a lot to think about here because you need to remember, no customer attraction, no customers… Pretty simple… No customers simply means “see you later”, you’re out of business and all your time and money invested will be gone.
4- Style guide, brand formatting
You have now chosen a style, a logo and a brand! Now you need to organise it and make sure that everytime you make some stationery or marketing materials that your brand is consistent.
A Styleguide will give you all the relevant information you require. It is your “Brand Bibble”. It sets the tone for everything you are going to undertake.
Your Styleguide includes
- Fonts you use
- Colour pallet you use
- Icons you use
- How all the Stationery and all the marketing materials should be used
- Sets the structure for your marketing including what is immediately needed but also what you could use in the future.
- Provides the Dos and Don’ts for your marketing.
Having a good Styleguide will save you hundred, may be thousands by designers having to “guess” what they have to do… With a Styleguide, they will know immediately what to do, reducing the amount of time they need to spend on your designs for your branding, marketing and advertising.
The designer who helped you create your logo can now spend time on creating your Styleguide. Again, don’t let them clutter your mind with gigantic ideas, stick to the basics your need as the Styleguide can be adapted, edited and expanded.
5- File Management
Get organised and get serious. At Bannerworld, we deal with hundreds of clients every months. Whether it is a small business or a large corporation, the biggest problem we come across is the fact that clients do not know their brand intimately and they have no idea what is a good file format, a good design or the right design and in many cases, they would not know where to find the files they need for their marketing needs. Poor file management can cost you hundreds of dollars as a small business and hundreds of thousands as a large corporation.
We started working with a major hotel chain in Australia with close to 50 sites across Australia. They had a Team of 15 marketing professionals and Designers. We were appointed to streamline their processes and systems in order for them to save on time and resources. Everytime a designer was to create artwork, we worked out that they spent more time in finding digital assets (Images, Logos, files, documents) than they did doing designs. A quarter of their time was looking for things… Huge waste! Across 6 designers, it is a lot of time wasted. In doing a small 2 week file management restructure and re-engineering, the whole team was already more proactive and wasted less time on searching things. The Team was reduced to 11 within 6 months, representing savings of nearly $250,000 per annum. Not only were they more productive but the hotel brand was more uniform and more brand compliant.
As a small business, we strongly recommend you create an Outlook or a Google Account. These two companies give you access to all the tools you will need for administration and storage capabilities. Everything from email through to communication and team collaboration.
Most people we deal with have one or the other and in most cases do not realise the capacity that these two have. In the end, we have customers, with DropBox Accounts, Email Accounts everywhere, different ways of accessing emails, different programs to run basic admin, different “phone” or “telecommunication” apps for making calls etc… Well, no need to re-invent the wheel, Microsoft and Google have already created the best smarts on the market and they are super cheap and they work!
Having trialed and tested tens of platforms, as a business, we have chosen Outlook for its ability to work on any platform, anywhere and anytime. The platform is intuitive, easy to use and offers all the tools necessary for a fraction of the cost of others.
Microsoft offers OneDrive, a fabulous way to store all your files, documents, images, music and more. OneDrive is incredibly robust, offers undeniable support and works when you need it to work… Plus it is secure which is VERY important in today’s society.
Less than 10 years ago, people invested in having “super computers” with networks, big storage capacity, backups, technicians, IT support and more… Now, forget it, you do not need any of that, the giants have created a Cloud Platform with all you can eat mentality! You have everything on hand.
So, set up a “unique” folder for your business and rename your folder with the name of your business in your Cloud Storage Drive (Just like if you had your own Network Drive or C/Drive on your pc). This folder will stay unique to your business, allowing you not to mix home with work and vice versa.
Within your new folder, start building all the folders you may need to use. See below example of pretty standard folders people use (Keeping in mind you can set up sub-folders too):
a- SALES – A sales folder may be used for all your pricelists, quotes, invoices, sales documentation, sales aids, specification sheets and more.
b- MARKETING – This folder would hold all the Logos, Styleguide, marketing collateral, stationery, etc.…
c- ADMINISTRATION – A place where you could keep anything to do with the ATO, Banking, accounts payables, accounts receivables, receipts, etc.…
There are dozens, hundreds and most probably thousands of books available out there and all of them still adopt the same Marketing 101 Principles… We definitely recommend you read one or a few just to give you an insight into marketing, branding and positioning. The steps above are only a small snapshot into setting yourself up to have a strong branding and marketing platform that proves to work. No point setting yourself up for failure by not planning. I am sure you have heard the old saying by the great Benjamin Franklin: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail… We still use his quote today because it still rings true nearly 200 years later.
Set yourself up for success, take the right steps in the right direction with the right tools and information.