stop. think. brand. | branding advice for little businesses

you have a little biz idea. you are stoked right? you can’t sleep at night because you are so excited to pick a name and make a logo and start a website and a facebook page and get 1000 fans and order 1000 business cards from vistaprint (or whatever.) well my advice is to just stop for a minute. stop and think about something.

i look at every website and every blog and every facebook page and every twitter account of every little biz that stops by to say hello. and there is one thing that stands out to me: not everyone has taken enough time to think about how all of the interactions and images at these places along with their biz name and their logo work together to create their brand.

yes i said brand. you might be thinking “WTF, i am not McDonalds or Nike or Oprah! my little biz doesn’t have a brand!” well if it doesn’t, it should. your brand is the message you are sending out to the world. the message about the product you are trying to sell. you do want to sell something, right?

you also might be thinking “hey, i have a brand. didn’t you see my cute logo?” a brand is more than a logo. a brand is made up of your logo + biz name + colours + taglines & slogans + fonts + designs & graphics + your profile photo + the way you write to/speak with people + how you package your product + your business card + all your marketing materials + every single thing every single person sees/hears/reads every time they have an interaction with you and your product in any location. whew. that’s a lot, right? makes me tired just writing it all down.

but that stuff is really important. that stuff is branding. and if your brand is your message then branding is the way you share that message. branding is not just the cute stuff that makes up your logo and website. branding is communication. it is very important that you figure out what your message is and how you plan on communicating it, because what people ‘see’ when they come in contact with your message is going to influence their buying decisions. and isn’t that what you are trying to do? sell something?

so before you pick your biz name or design your logo or start your facebook page my advice is to take some time to think about your brand. (p.s. you can still be selling your stuff and networking with people while you are working on this. for a while just use your own name and while you are selling you can also be building your brand and working on your logo etc. it is not worth rushing just to get a business card printed or facebook page started.)

if you have already gotten started with your biz and have some of this stuff in place (name, logo, facebook page etc.) take a moment to reflect on the brand that you are piecing together. what is your message? how do you communicate that message? are you communicating it consistently across every aspect of your biz so far? it isn’t too late to work on your brand and even make some changes if you have to. it will be worth it in the long run.