{branding} how serious are you?

are you serious about this little biz idea of yours? seriously serious? as in you actually want it to be a success? as in you actually want to make some money selling your ‘thing’?

then look like it.

there are a number of things i have noticed lately looking at little biz websites, facebook pages and emails. a lot of folks who are working on building their little biz don’t give off the appearance of being very serious about it. their look screams hobby. or screams amateur. or, the worst, “i sort of want to sell you something, but my biz is being held together with duct tape, so i will just do my best.”

maybe you are doing this as a hobby. and maybe you are an amateur in your field. and most likely you are super busy and can’t do everything at once. but there are a few things you CAN do, right now that will make you look professional (even if you don’t feel pro right now, fake it!) and will make you look like you are taking your business seriously. (really, if you don’t look like you are taking this seriously, why would you expect anyone else to?)

get a new email address.

using emails like kargunt678@hotmail.com, karheartsbeer@yahoo.com, theguntonfamily2010@yourphoneprovider.com to do business is just plain silly. if you can’t say it out loud, if it is the email your best friends from high school use to find you, if you share it with your spouse, if it will disappear if you change your service provider next year, or if it has ads at the bottom you need to change it.

there is no excuse not to have a dedicated biz email. gmail offers excellent free email, and i am sure there are other choices for you out there, so go get a proper biz email address. your email should simply be your biz name or your full name. no nicknames, cute spellings, abbreviations or random numbers. again, if you can’t easily say your email out loud to a customer, then it is not very effective.

get a professional logo.

i am not saying you can’t design your own logo. i know of some awesome biz logos that were designed by the biz owner, but these folks generally have some design skills, and usually the thing they are selling is their artistic talent. if you are designing and making your logo yourself, do a hell of a lot of research to ensure that yours looks professional. if you can’t do that, hire someone to do it for you. and if you can’t do that right now (you really are just getting started) i think it would be better to have a simple, plain text logo with your biz name rather than have something that looks unprofessional and cheap. 

using clip art, garish or difficult to read colours, difficult to read text and fonts, elements that are not aligned... ugh. these are just some of the things i have noticed lately. pretend you are someone visiting your site/facebook page/etsy page/market stall for the first time. what would you think? pretend you are a customer and have a choice between you and your 3 closest competitors. if you didn’t know you, who would you choose based on appearance alone?

if you just love your logo, but can admit that it doesn’t look pro – then get a designer to turn your idea into something really professional and awesome. your logo is often the first interaction anyone has with your biz. why would you want to ruin that first chance?

get smart about your pricing.

look, i struggle with pricing as much as the next guy. maybe even more (given the hours of sleep i have lost trying to figure out the right price for my products). and i know that when you are just starting out, or when you are running things as a hobby, you either can’t or don’t want to charge too much for your thing. but if you are charging rock bottom ridiculous prices you are sending a very loud and clear message about your stuff.

if you don’t have confidence in your stuff (shown by charging market rates) no one else will. there is value associated with price and it is good if some people find you too expensive. being cheap sends the message that your stuff is cheap.

why does this stuff matter?

all of this stuff is part of the brand you are creating for your biz. it sends a message about the thing you sell. what do you want that message to be? i would bet that: skill, quality, excellence, professionalism and confidence would be on your list. you might not feel like you are all those things right now but you ought to start acting like it! and if your brand is not sending the right message, maybe it is time to change it. just sayin’.

what do you think? i am i being too harsh here? do you think these things matter? do you need help with any of these things? please leave a comment or send me a message, i would love to hear from you =)