Starting a business is probably one of the most exciting and trying decisions you’ll make in your life. Branding your business, takes it to a whole other level! It can add an extra level of stress to an already stressful situation.
But branding your business doesn’t have to take years off your life. What you need is to know what you should and shouldn’t do and I’m here to help!
A lot of folks think that branding is a simple process that involves your favorite colors and fonts. While it can be an extremely fun process, it involves a lot more than just choosing the colors and fonts you’ve always loved. If you’re not sure EXACTLY what branding means and how it can help your business, make sure you read this in-depth post I wrote last week so you have a good grasp on it.
In a nutshell, branding your business requires that you think about who you want to serve not what you think your business is about. It’s only when you know your target market well that you’ll be able to brand your business well.
Before I tell you the mistakes you should avoid, make sure you have a look at the new Branding Roadmap I built into the site. This map is a guide for the preliminary steps you should take when branding your business. Each step comes with a downloadable workbook that you can grab when you get to that step.
Okay, now let’s dive in.
Mistakes you should avoid when branding your business.
#1: DO NOT think your business is about YOU.
While it sounds kinda funny, it’s true and it’s probably the most important thing you need to keep in mind when you’re branding yourself.
Your business is NOT about you.
It’s about the people that you want to serve or the people that are going to buy your product. What does this mean in terms of branding? It means that you can’t pick YOUR favorite colors and fonts. WHAT?! I know! But keep reading!
#2: Don’t forget to focus on an EMOTION.
So now, if your business is not about you, then how do you brand it? The key is to think about your target market and think of the EMOTION you want to evoke in them when they engage with your business.
How do you want your ideal customer to feel when they come to your store? Maybe you sell bathing suits and you want them to remember how fun the summer is. Maybe you want your emotion to be sunny and bright and evoke a carefree feeling. This is how you start branding your business.
Perhaps you sell baby clothes and you want your site to feel light and airy. You want to bring out that warm feeling that babies bring out in all of us.
#3: Don’t pick your favorite colors from elementary school.
Hear me out. We all have favorite colors, specially in grade school. Mine was purple, but aside from it not being my favorite color anymore, it’s just not a color that evokes the emotion I want my ideal client to feel when they visit my site.
Here’s an example of a jewelry brand I’ve been working with. Liz wasn’t happy with her brand or logo. So we chatted about what she wanted her customer to feel. She decided she wanted a high-end, feminine feeling. So we decided to go with a palette that not only matched that feeling, but her store’s name as well.
When you’re choosing your colors, think about that emotion again. Let’s say you have that baby clothing store. You’ve decided you want your emotion to be that warm, fuzzy feeling, but your favorite color is black. You can see why simply going with your favorite color might not be the best option.
If you want to evoke those warm baby feelings, you might want to think about powder blues and pastel yellows with lots of white. You’re making these decisions based on the EMOTION you chose for your TARGET AUDIENCE. So your focus should be on that FEELING you want people to experience when they step into your world. You want to deliver an EXPERIENCE!
It may be that your favorite color will be perfect for your emotion. If it is, by all means, use it. But be honest with yourself and don’t jeopardize your branding efforts by not putting thought into your audience and what they would like to feel when interacting with you.
#4: Don’t use all the fonts you have ever liked in your life.
This is another mistake I see plastered on many websites. Fonts are FUN. Actually, A LOT of fun. There’s different styles, weights, sizes and sometimes it’s just plain hard to decide on just a few. Here’s the thing, you HAVE to!
One of the keys to good design is organization and fonts are very helpful in organizing your content. You can give a line importance over another simply by changing the size and weight of the font, you don’t even have to change the font itself.
When you don’t boil down your font choices to either 2 or 3 and instead choose to keep the 7 that you really like, it is very hard to make your brand look cohesive. That’s especially true if all 7 of the fonts are all on the same page. This is a rookie mistake, don’t make it.
Simplicity is your friend! Choose 2-3 fonts that you know will compliment that same emotion we’ve been talking about. If we keep talking about the baby store for example, a font like IMPACT might not be the best choice, even if it is one of your favorites.
The good thing about fonts is that they’re versatile. Just because you choose 2 or 3 to work with doesn’t mean you can’t style them differently to give headlines, sub-headlines and text a different look.
That’s where font weight, color and styles come in. You can have the same font look quite different. For example, in the image below all of those lines are set in the same font. You can do a lot with one font, trust me!
#5: Don’t forget to use a logo.
This one is pretty obvious but can sometimes be overlooked. When you’re starting out, you may not have a logo, but it’s important to make yourself some kind of mark that you can use to identify your business.
A logo is important because it makes your brand instantly recognizable. It also makes it easier for you to brand your documents and products as well. So when you’re giving out those awesome freebies and content upgrades, your logo is there to remind people of your business and where they can find more of your great content.
If you’re having trouble with your logo, try some of these tips to come up with a memorable mark for yourself.
#6: Don’t just brand your site.
Lastly, don’t just assume that your branding is only for your site. Sprinkle that goodness in every little corner of the internet. Wherever your business is, your branding should be prominent. This is why it’s important to have some type of logo, because a lot of places give you the option of having an avatar or id image. That’s where your logo should go.
And of course, branding isn’t just about colors and fonts, but about your voice, your tag line if you have one, the way you design your files and freebies and a lot more. All of these things play into how your brand is perceived.
So if you do have a tag line or a one liner that describes your business, post that along with your logo. If you’re able to change the colors to links and buttons like on Twitter, do it. Brand your Instagram and Pinterest accounts as well, so that the emotion you’re conveying with your branding becomes a seamless experience across many different platforms, not just your website.
Now that we’ve talked about a couple of things you should avoid, let’s end with the 3 most important things to do so you can brand your business successfully:
- DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET.
- DECIDE ON THE EMOTION YOU WANT TO CONVEY.
- BRAND BEYOND YOUR WEBSITE.
You might be tempted to skip right to choosing pretty colors and having fun with fonts, that is the fun part after all. Be smart and do the deep work first. That’s the work that’s going to give you the direction you need for the trickier questions later on. So make sure you check out the Branding Roadmap and get yourself on the right track, right away!