Book Review: Branding Basics

It’s unfortunate that so many startups and small businesses spend so much time focusing on promotions and so little time on branding. Branding, in my mind, is the foundation of any solid marketing strategy. It’s what causes your customers to see your business in a certain light. Maria Ross, author of Branding Basics for Small Business, does an excellent job of breaking down branding and offering useful exercises that help small businesses apply it to their own needs.

Creating Your Branding Strategy

Ross offers questions readers can ask themselves to help determine their company’s competitive advantages and brand positioning, as well as examples of other small businesses who are successfully branding themselves. Read More

Must-Have Branding Elements

When you think of branding, you likely think of logos, websites, and social media. These are all elements of branding that are necessary for your business. Let’s dive in to understand how to get started on each.

Your Logo

A logo is important for your business because it evokes a certain emotion or idea surrounding your brand. If your logo is boring and non-memorable, people may not be as excited about shopping at your store or your website. But if it’s bold and uses exciting colors, people will quickly be able to recognize it anywhere they see it (and they should see it in many places).

Consider what messaging you want to portray with your logo. Would a retro feel get that message across? A very ornate logo? A simple one? Look at other logos for inspiration.

Consider the role color plays in your logo. There’s a reason health food companies use green in their logos: it evokes health and freshness. On the other end of the emotional spectrum is red, which can symbolize passion and vitality.

I’m adamant that hiring a good graphic designer is well worth the expense for a small business. But there are also DIY options if it’s not in your budget just now.

Your Website

Once you’re got your logo down, move on to the branding behind your website. It should contain or complement the colors used in your logo for consistency, and your logo should be at the top of each page.  Again, consider messaging. What are you trying to portray with your website? Many companies think a cutesy Flash site is what their customers want, when in reality they want simplicity and functionality.

I feel the same about web designers as graphic designers: you don’t want to skimp on your website. Although there are many content management and blog-based options that you can use yourself, it’s worth it to find out how much a good website will cost (likely less than you think).

Your Social Media Profiles

Social media profiles provide you with another opportunity to brand your company using your logo and colors that match your website. You can now get customized Twitter pages and enhance your Facebook page with photos so that you create an attractive place for social media users to hang out.

Create customized Facebook tabs to connect users with your current promotions and coupons. You can set up a customized landing page so that all new visitors to your page view the promotion when they click on your page.

Keep in mind the communications you share via social media also counts as branding. Make sure the person in charge of your social media accounts speaks in the voice you want your company to have. If you want to maintain a professional image, using slang or off-the-wall updates on your wall won’t help you appeal to your audience.

Photo: jkirkheart35 on Flickr

Why You Might Not Be Ready for Branding


As small businesses, we often look to larger corporations for the roadmap to success. While it’s a good way to get ideas about how to grow your company, you can’t use the same path that the corporations do. Your marketing, branding and advertising strategy should be different than what the big boys do, mainly due to the shallowness of your pockets compared to, say, Pepsi’s.

Branding is like the cherry on top of the marketing sundae. After you’ve successfully managed getting your product to fit exactly with what your target audience wants and needs, and you’ve used sales, promotions, advertising, PR and social media, then you’re ready to brand. But don’t worry: most small businesses never get to branding, and that’s all right.


Road Map of the Internet

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