10: Creating an effective and affordable small business identity

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In this blog series, we’ve looked at definitions of what brands are and what they stand for. We have also examined some of the tools within their brand identities that they use to communicate with us, as consumers.http://visualcage.ru

In this final series post, we’ll look at a 10 Point Plan for creating an effective and affordable small business brand. Although there are distinct differences between creating a brand for a startup and rebranding an existing one, this plan can be used a guide in both situations.

It may sound an obvious point to make, but the process can only produce good results if you and the designer or agency (yes, you should use one – see post 9) work closely in partnership. You, as business owner, hold the vital information and vision for how any brand identity relates to what your company is and what it does. The designer will view your company from the important position of outsider, able to look at it through fresh eyes and bring new ideas and thinking to the project.

Be sure about why you’re branding/rebranding your business. Is it to:

– create sales and marketing tools?
– strategic, longer term positioning/re-positioning?
– shorter term market entry/establish immediate market presence?

Establish measures through which you can evaluate success.

– what does your competition look like?
– how are they promoting their products/services
– what makes your offer different or special?
– how can you use your USP to differentiate your business?

This should include required deliverables schedule and item formats. It should also list your communication imperatives, such as:

Objective: what the work must achieve
Subjective: what the work look/feel like (tone of voice)

A list of deliverables might include:
– Brand logo
– Colour specification
– Typeface specification
– Copywriting examples
– Imagery examples

Also, sample visuals of:
– web pages
– print/literature: e.g. brochure, leaflet, stationery (letterhead, business card, comps slip)
– advertising: e.g. magazine/newspaper/poster ads

Ask around your network for sources of good practitioners. At the very least, candidates for the work should be able to show you a track record of their work for other clients.

With a track record of working with similarly sized businesses or in a similar sector.

However, don’t base decision on cost alone. Look at quality, experience, flair and the ability to really understand your business, how you want to develop it. Also, look for a design partner that can contribute appropriate, new ideas that you might not have considered.

Agree how you will work together and how you will keep in contact throughout the project. Obtain and agree costs and production schedules. Build checkpoints into the schedule to help monitor progress.

Monitor the progress of the work at agreed checkpoints in the schedule making sure that your strategic communication goals have been taken into account. Remember, the design work must represent the vision you had for your business at the start of the process.

Make sure you get what was agreed, in the formats that you can use.

Completion of the identity and deliverables is not the end of the story. Keep evaluating the effectiveness of your brand communications, in print and online. Are the messages, imagery and design within your new identity still communicating powerfully and appropriately after 6 months, 12 months or 2 years?

In summary, here’s the checklist again:

If you’ve liked the blog series (or even if you haven’t, it would be good to hear from you. You can view and respond to the posts on our website. Or, you can email me direct at: sinclair@reverse-design.com