"Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa." Jay Baer
Ahh, truer words have rarely been said. A brand is art. A brand is a perception. A brand is your company. That is why a brand is so important to your business and your future. Branding has been around for hundreds of years (at least), starting back around 950 A.D. when woodworkers would burn a symbol into their pieces to distinguish their work from other competitors. In the 1500’s ranches would burn marks on their cattle to show ownership.
Since then it has evolved (thankfully, animals are no longer harmed at the mention of a brand!) into what it is today. And today, the idea of branding is actually pretty amazing. No longer are we required to ensure our logos are simple and easy to burn, with clean lines and no color. Instead, we get to use color, design elements, fonts, special effects and so much more to create a unique brand that is individual to your company and message.
Dissecting a Brand
Let’s talk about a brand who knows what they’re doing. Okay, let’s clear your mind for a second, take a deep breath and tell me what you think when you hear this word: Target. What do you think of? Really think about it. I see red, the red and white circle logo, clean white aisles with colorful items lined up in a row… Now, go to their website, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube (where you can check out their commercials). And what do you see? Lots of red, the target logo and lots of color. You don’t even see their full logo on their social media pages—it’s just their circle. But you don’t need to see “Target” in big red letters to know what page your on, because their brand says it all.
That is the ultimate goal. Of course, as a small business owner, it does not make sense for us to omit the name of our shop anywhere—we want to get our name out there! But along with our name, we want to create a brand that will help us to attract the right customers and to create an emotional connection to our business. That is considering color, aesthetic, fonts, and overall feel in EVERY SINGLE aspect of our appearance.
Creating Your Brand
Whether you are just about your launch your company or have been established for years, it is still important to determine your brand to create that consistency. At A Pink Sunset, I create Branding Guides for those who purchase my Branding Package. I work closely with my client to create a Branding Guide that represents the business they want to present to the world. Sometimes my clients have a very clear idea of what they want, other times they have litterally no idea.
But guess what, you lucky business owner? I have put together a downloadable, blank Branding Guide that you can use to mock-up your brand. Whether you are planning on designing your overall brand yourself, or hiring out a graphic designer (ahem, cough cough) this branding guide will come in handy to help YOU decide which direction you want to go! You can print out the form and fill it out, or load it into your favorite graphic editor and copy and paste your inspirational elements. So what all is included in this handy, dandy Branding Guide? You will find space to place your inspiration for the following:
LOGOS + COLORS + FONTS + INSPIRATION
Showing Off Your Brand
So where can we present our brand as a whole, for the world to see? I have put together a few simple places that maybe you didn’t think of that need to display your branding.
This is so simple. I keep my font a simple, small sans serif font in a light gray to match my logo. You can include a literal signature as an image if that fits with your brand. Include your logo and links to other sources that display your brand (like your website, Etsy page, and social media links).
This has become so important in recent years. They say those first nine images that appear on your Instagram feed are the most important and need to stay consistent. Colors, aesthetic and photography are very important. There are a lot of articles that speak on the importance of Instagram consistency if you would like to learn more.
This is the most important. Your website is the ultimate hub for people to meet your brand. They might find you on Facebook or a local source, but chances are if they are interested, they are going to head to your website to find out more information. Keep this updated and in line with your branding elsewhere, to really help mold that emotional link you are trying to create with your ideal customer.
This includes Facebook ads, business cards, flyers, website banners and event involvement. The most important thing is to KEEP IT CONSISTENT. Not only is this less work for you (or your designer), but it will eliminate any potential confusion for your customer.
Now go forth, young grasshopper and create that brand and develop that presence that represents YOUR BUSINESS!
Don’t forget to download your blank Branding Guide. We have a downloadable resource available for you, and our first quarter is FREE for ALL members! If you're an Ohio Creative Collective Member, head on over to our brand new Member Portal and type in the password we shared in the private Facebook Group! If you're not a member yet, feel free to learn more about our valuable membership levels here. Not sure if you want to join, but looking to network first? You can connect with us at our upcoming events too!
Angela Giaco is the owner and designer of A Pink Sunset, a design and stationery shop. Her focus is on small businesses looking to rebrand or launch their company, though she has worked with several large brands, including Puma, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Angela’s custom design services include graphic design, website design and branding. You can find her on Facebook and on Instagram at @apinksunset.