Branding for your small business is one of the hardest things to get right, as it develops over time with your business, and the image you might set out with in the beginning will probably be different to the branding that you end up with in 3 years time. People and businesses grow and evolve - that's a good thing!
Some of you will be thinking "but I'm just me, I'm nothing special. Surely I can't compete with all those other brands and sell my products solely based on my personality? Right?"
Take a look around the room. How many more Yous are there in that room? None, right? No go outside. Anymore Yous hiding around out there? Do you spot another You out walking your dog? Doing some shopping? Going to work? No. Of course not because YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE.
You are unique, special and one-of-a-kind. You are your brand.
Time and time again I see people with small businesses who fall into the trap of trying to create a brand based on what they think other people will like. They create a false persona based in what they think is fashionable or "in" at the time. Yes, other people will be the ones buying your products or services, but they won't be buying from you if they can get the exact same service, from the exact same brand (or so they see it) somewhere else.
Don't try to be anybody else.
Trying to be something you're not is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when running a small business.
My brand is based around every aspect of my daily life that I find the happiest, and most fun. I've chosen the things that bring me the most joy and based my brand around that: my dogs, tattoos' 1950's style and my 2 favourite colours: pink and green.
I didn't decide to do it because I thought it was on trend, fashionable or the new thing of the week. I did it because it's what I've dreamt of doing since I was a little girl. I did it because I love it. I did it because I want my brand to be an extension of me.
I was wearing headscarves, dying my hair crazy colours and rocking leopard print even when I was 10 years old. My favourite film as a child was Grease and I know it word-for-word. I've even had 5 copies of the film because i watched it so many times that I would completely wear out my videos and DVDs. I would put on my black leggings and training bra and strut around the living room in my Mum's high heels with a lolly pop stick in my mouth pretending to be Sandy and singing my little heart out. Since the moment I first saw that film, 1950's fashion has been ingrained into my brain and I've sought it out (sometimes more subtly than others) in everything I do.
If you're setting up a business, and giving it a 1950's or "vintage" branding because you think it's popular now and it's an easy way to get people to go to your website and buy your products - It won't work. You won't be able to keep up the persona for as long as your business needs you to, you're less likely to have consistency throughout your brand and your products, and people will see right through it eventually and your business will feel inauthentic. Just don't do it. Save yourself a lot of time and effort in the long run but setting out to create a brand that truly represents you and your personality.
Write down a list of the 10 most important things in your life, your favourite things, things that make you happiest and your favourite colours.
Next write down a list of everything that you want for your small business. What do you want to achieve with it?
You branding has to correlate with what you want to do, otherwise you won't be believable and you won't get to where you want to go. There's no use jumping on the newest hot trend because you think it will make you some quick money, you have to believe I'm what you are doing and it has to be intrinsically part of your lifestyle.
If you base your branding for your small business around things that you genuinely like, and traits that are genuinely a part of your personally, everything will be a lot easier. You won't have to think about your branding too much as it should just come naturally and freely to you. After all, you don't spend hours trying to think of your favourite colour do you? You just know it. And if you create an authentic brand based on what you love you'll just know that inside out too, without having to think about it too much.
In summary: if you're looking to create a brand for your small business, the main things you should do are:
- Don't try to be anyone else.
- Be yourself - and be a true representation of who you really are. People will see straight through any gimmicks or inauthenticity.
- Base your brand around the things you love.
- Incorporate your personality into everything.
- Be your brand. Embrace it.
- HAVE FUN!