Whether you’re a sole trader or have a larger business, branding is important for creating an identity for your business and building relationships with customers. Having a brand that appeals to your target market and is recognisable will help you attract both new and repeat customers.
Your brand isn’t just your logo – it also includes your business name, colour scheme, tone of voice and values. It should be used to represent your business through every aspect that’s visible to the outside world – your website, social media, business cards, stationery, premises, company vehicles, adverts, printed marketing materials and more. You could even create branded workwear. Consistency is key to building a recognisable brand.
It can be useful to create brand guidelines – a document setting out what your business’s identity is, how you want to portray yourself and how you’re going to communicate this. They can help you be clear about what you’re trying to achieve and be a useful reference when you’re doing something new – setting up a new website or designing new business cards, for example.
Read our tips to create the perfect brand for your business and make it work for you.
If you don’t know who your potential customers are, you won’t know what kind of branding will appeal to them, so it’s essential that you consider who your target audience is.
Consider your customers; basics such as age, sex and where they live, as well as their likes and dislikes, what they want from a business like yours and any challenges they might face – such as time or financial pressures. Think about how you can solve their problems and how you can deal with any issues that may be faced by people seeking the type of service you offer.
Knowing your customers also involves thinking about how they look for businesses when they need a job done – are they likely to take notice of leaflets through their door, use Google or ask people for recommendations? It’s worth considering their values too – for example, if environmental concerns could be a factor you might want to address this in your colour scheme or the wording you use.
Read our guide to how to stand out on Google to make the internet work for you.
For your business to be successful you need to stand out from your competitors, so have a look at their branding to see how you can differentiate yourself. One way is by being a Which? Trusted Trader, this associates you with a recognisable brand and can boost trust in your business.
Surveying the competition is also useful for getting ideas for the kind of branding that works, as well as the visuals and tone of voice to use. There are some aspects of what your competitors are doing that you may want to replicate.
How do your competitors market themselves? Do they have a website? Do they use social media and which platforms do they use? You may need to do the same to compete. This will also inform the kind of branding you use – you’ll need something that looks good online as well as in print if you’re going to promote your business in this way or have a variation of your branding to use online.
To communicate who you are as a business to your customers, you first need to be clear about this yourself. What are your strengths and values? What do you feel passionate about when it comes to delivering your services? How do you do things differently or better than your competitors? What would you like your customers to say about you once the job is done? These are all worth thinking about as part of the process of creating your branding.
The name of your business will help to convey what you stand for, so if you’re just starting out and don’t have a name yet this is something to consider carefully. You could also write a tagline to go with your name or logo on your website and marketing materials to make your unique selling point clear.
For more on ways to promote your business, visit our guide to how to market your business for free.
The look and feel of your branding will be a big part of the image you convey. Think about the types of colours that might work well for the kind of business you have – bright greens and other vibrant colours if you’re a gardener, for example. However, it’s best to keep your colour scheme simple so your branding is clear and smart – choose a primary and secondary colour to use.
You should also choose the fonts you use carefully. If you run a building firm you might choose something that looks solid and sturdy but if you’re an interior designer a more flowing font might be more effective. Just make sure they’re easy to read. Think about images and illustrations too.
Your logo will be an important part of your brand identity so consider hiring a professional graphic designer to create it. There are a number of websites that let you search for freelance designers, such as Fiverr and Upwork.
Once you’ve created your visual identity, consider creating branded items such as pens or fridge magnets to boost the visibility of your business and help people remember it. The more useful the items and the more relevant they are to your business the better.