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The Ultimate New Branding Guide for Small Businesses

Shaping your Brand

Modern small businesses need a different branding strategy | Vermilion Pinstripes | branding for small businesses My Blue Tea


One of our client, My Blue Tea, a unique Superfoods business

The Ultimate New Branding Guide for the Small Modern Business.

Businesses struggle with marketing campaigns and sales and wonder why they are not reaching out to more customers or the right clientele. When business is seen as a set of procedures to generate profits, the human element is lost. There is no connection.

Here's some help to understand Branding.

1) All you need is Love

Believe it or not, love is the missing ingredient that is needed to push your business to another level. Love involves connecting with customers on a very personal level and a readiness to get emotional.

At Vermilion Pinstripes we like to bring in the various elements of mathematics, science, creativity and of course psychology to help businesses understand themselves and succeed in reaching out to their customers. Psychology plays a big part in shaping your brand – at the end of the day, we are humans reaching out to humans and getting to the core of their emotions and getting a hook on it will make a significant change to how successful your business becomes.

We created a 5-strategic step framework to guide businesses to a valuable and long term commitment from customers, resulting in revenue generation. We call it the Modern Marketing and Communications Framework where you can start anywhere from Strategy, Content, Analytics, Mobile and Social; anywhere at all in your marketing or sales journey with your customer. This is a brand-led structure because what you want to say to each select segment of your customer is key to creating an effective, personalised customer engagement. 

Read more about how love can make a difference in improving your business.

2) Brands - an emotional connection

With this in mind, we need to take a look at the processes of shaping one´s brand. It is your brand that will create an emotional connection with your customers and in turn build trust and brand loyalty. It bonds them to you and makes them want to return. Your brand is associated with a specific set of human characteristics which your customers can identify with. This personality is what drives your identity and as you grow and evolve, so does your brand.

According to a study (Ronald E. Goldsmith Research Study), having human-like characteristics adds to the authenticity of your company. This in turn increases brand engagement. Your brand personality influences user experience and helps to make you stand out from the crowd.

To move from a merely cold, transactional, robotic relationship with your customers, you may want to think about connecting with them on a deeper level. What feelings do you want to evoke in your customers when they think about your brand? What value are you giving to them? You would want customers to remember you and for positive reasons. These kinds of meaningful interactions with customers are what retains them and makes them loyal to you.

Shaping your brand is probably one of the most playful parts of your marketing process. See it as an exploration of your personality. Your brand is closely tied to your personality and over time they should evolve together. Best to start simple and then keep testing and experimenting and play around with iterations.

With time your brand will become more targeted and focused. To help you get started, we really love this simple and clear example of 5 main personalities and their related traits. There are real-life examples for you to see how these traits influence design decisions. Everything, from the colours, the types of buttons, to the font you choose etc. are all factors that influence how customers perceive your brand. This is an example of using psychology in a smart way to get your customers to notice you, identify with you and stay with you.

3) Brainstorm about Branding

This may all sound overwhelming or it's something you'd rather sweep under the rug to your designer. All you need is run through a couple of questions to understand what your personality is and how to convert that into your brand identity.

Sit down and get ready pen and paper, and interview yourself!

  1. Why are you doing this (business)?
  2. What are the important values to your company?
  3. Imagine your brand as a person. What personality traits would he/she have?
  4. What three words would you use to describe your brand?
  5. What do you do better than anyone else?
  6. What makes you different from your competitors?
  7. If your brand were a person, how would it communicate?
  8. What three words would you want your customers to use to describe you?

This is a great way to start thinking about branding and can be used for personal branding or other types of business models.

4) To the Drawing Board

Shaping your small business brand | Vermilion Pinstripes branding specialist

Now that we have established how important brand identity is, we can move on to the next fun part which is the design. Your design assets are the tangible elements that shape the perception of your brand. This is where your designers step in. Contact Vermilion Pinstripes for all your logo and graphic designs.

Click here for a Free Consultation

Here are some basic elements to consider.

1. Typography

The font you choose says a lot about your personality and changes people´s perception of your values. To appear traditional and reliable, go for the classic Serif fonts family. To go from traditional to modern and sleek, choose the Sans Serif family of fonts. If your brand is targeted at a more luxurious or elitist sector, choose Script typography. A cursive font gives a more elegant and feminine feel to a brand.

To be bold, stand out and be eclectic, go for Display fonts. As they are all so different, it is a bold way to make a statement and make sure your customers sit up and notice you.

2. Colour

Psychology tells us colours affect us in deeper ways than we are aware of. The hours we agonise over the colours of each room in the new house or the new car we want to buy or which little number to wear on a first date all show how strong an emotional influence colours have on us.

These are some of the impressions and influences colours have on our perception:

  • Red – Passion and Excitement.
    For brands that are loud, young and full of excitement.
  • Orange – High energy and playful.
    As it is an unusual colour and quite a challenge to mix with, when done well it can really make your brand stand out.
  • Yellow – Happiness and Fun.
    This is full of cheerful and positive vibes, great for brands that are for a wider public and affordable.
  • Blue – Trustworthy and Executive.
    It is probably the most universally appealing colour, widely chosen by executive businesses to reach out to a wide public and appear reliable and professional.
  • Purple – Luxury.
    The most exotic colour in the spectrum and infused with the idea of royalty. Use this if you want to be unique.
  • Pink – Femininity.
    Targeted at women with a touch of softness and luxury.
  • Brown – Rugged and Masculine.
    Not the most popular colour for brands but because it is so little used, it can actually stand out if deployed correctly.
  • Black – Modern and Sophisticated.
    A true classic. Period.

3. Form / Shape

  • Round – circles and shapes in the roly-poly family convey the idea of community, unity, femininity and love.
  • Straight-edged – squares, rectangles, triangles bring out the idea of strength and efficiency, stability and trustworthiness. Make sure you throw in an element of fun and use dynamic colours, otherwise the image can come across as cold and impersonal.
  • Straight lines – Masculinity and strength.
  • Horizontal lines – Tranquillity and soft vibes.

    There are also other elements in brand design such as logo, website, product packaging, business cards, email design. Check out this blog for tips on how to get started on these elements for your business.

    If you want a brand style guide, this one takes you step by step and is easy to follow.

5) Your Brand´s Unique Voice

Once you have decided on your brand personality, think about your brand´s unique voice. Marketers have to communicate messages across a vast spectrum of channels e.g. website, social media, email, ebooks etc. You need a voice for your brand that is consistent and appropriate to your brand in order to communicate your messages effectively.

Here is a set of steps to help you get started on shaping your brand´s voice to ensure you are engaging effectively with your target audience.

Step 1 : Arrow in on Your Basic Values

  • Write down words or ideas your business stands for.
  • Write down key messages your business represents.

If you are stuck, ask colleagues to give you ideas. Ask them to give you words that they associate (or not) with your business. Ask where they got these ideas from or what sparked off these impressions.

Step 2 : Focus on Vocabulary

Decide if the language used in your brand is formal or informal and to what degree. Think about your target audience and how they speak.

If your target audience were in front of you right now, how would you speak to them? What style of language would you adopt?

Analyse the words and descriptions your customers use when talking about your business. This will give you information about what ideas or values they already associate with your brand.
Avoid technical jargon as this can be alienating and off-putting to customers, unless you are referring to a highly niche area. A term that can be understood by 95% of your audience does not need simplification.

Step 3 : Laughter is Good Medicine

Humour can add personality to a brand and give it an extra boost of energy. Decide if humour is appropriate to your brand and what style of humour is suitable.

Laugh at yourself, never at others.

Use subtler forms of humour so it is not forced.

If the humour cannot be easily understood or may obscure meaning, drop it.

Step 4 : Announce to Everyone

Everyone who works in your business needs to know about the voice you have adopted for your brand.

Make it consistent across departments by creating a tone of voice guide.

Write this guide in the tone itself, include words or phrases that are appropriate or in line with the voice and show examples of copy for different mediums.

Appoint someone to be in charge of making sure the tone of voice is kept consistent across all relevant copy.

Check out this blog for more details about how to find your brand´s voice.

6) Love + Profit = Happy Business

Love and Profit equals Happy Small Business | Vermilion Pinstripes Small Business Marketing Agency

While we are on the topic of love in business, like all relationships there can come a time when you get stuck in a rut or feel like you are not progressing to where you want to be.

You may have done the necessary steps to identify your brand personality and have found your voice but there are a couple of things that are not going so well. Some very common unhappy situations that businesses find themselves in include:

  • Your business is no longer a well-paid job.
  • You are not attracting the right customers and people are simply not buying your products or services.
  • You believe you deserve to command a better price.
  • You are not giving customers what you have promised.

This sounds like a broken business model syndrome. Even if you have the snazziest logo it would still not help your business turn around.

We believe there is a special formula to help businesses understand why they are not where they believe they should be.

Love + Profit = Happy Business

The real problem is, most people do not know what success looks like. While we talk about infusing our businesses with love and emotional connections, we also need to get practical and strategic. You need to be able to visualise what success looks like so you are clear about what you want. Then we can look at the next stage on how to make a profit. This involves structuring your services
or products into a package that drives the most profit and which can be repeated with each customer.

Learn more about how to get your business to turn around so you can enjoy the benefits of your business while also keeping your customers happy here.

Book a free 30-minute consultation with us if you feel you are doing all you can but nothing seems to be working for your business. We can guide you to gain more clarity and analyse what specific steps you can take to push your business to another level and generate the happy business you set out to achieve at the very beginning.

Click here for a Free Consultation

7) Using Content to Deliver Brand Message

Having established your branding, you need to get it out and content is the element that will help to deliver your brand's message. It is the meaty part that will make the emotional connection with customers and veer them towards making a decisive choice for your brand. Content is a big thing in the future of marketing. It is key to elevating your brand and it can effectively motivate customers to move to their next stage of their purchasing journey faster than they would on their own. It is about using marketing to engineer their journey – to entice, guide and provide relevant information to steer them to a decision in favour of your brand.

8) Get Social

Social media is undeniably one channel that will bring massive returns when applied correctly. Studies show that 85% of consumers say that they will change their buying behaviour in response to social media content (Source: The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web).

Social media is where you can extensively share your brand values. Create brand visibility by matching your brand with its values. Your brand´s voice will draw people into wanting to identify with you. Choose influencers who share your values and are aligned with your voice in order to make them your allies.

This is where you can consolidate relationships by sharing common values between your customers and your brand. Check out our blog for more tips on how to make social media work for you.

Here are five brand-shaping strategies that dominate social media.

1. Tell a (Visual) Story

Brands can tell their stories in a myriad of ways. Create short texts about your business and post them. Photos and videos are powerful visual storytelling methods that can catch the attention of your customers quickly. Use these to attract them to your business.

2. Increase Personalisation

Collect data about your customers´ habits. Track and analyse the data. This will help you to understand and target your customers. Customers now have to power to decide the content they want to see, so as a business you need to focus on what is relevant and of interest to your customers.

3. Cash in on Instagram

Instagram has become a powerful branding medium. It is quick, easy and immediate. Businesses will have to adapt to the millennial mindset and provide customers with interesting and fun content that is quick, up-to- date and constantly evolving.

4. Integrated online presence

Apply a holistic approach to your online promotion for your business. Integrate all your online features into a functional unit. Continue to boost your brand through social media but make sure you do not neglect your website which is still the central part of your online presence. Your social media profiles and your website should work together as a single unit. An interesting development would also be to go for a mobile app. With the ever-increasing number of smartphone users, it is vital your business keeps up with new channels.

5. Embody your Brand

Emphasise your business accomplishments and share them on social media. This is where you launch and build your personal profile across different media. You can also be associated with successful people from your niche or influencers as a practical way of boosting your personal brand. Making customers associate your personal brand with your business brand means you
get to address them on a personal level. This is a great way to create an emotional connection, which is the ultimate goal of every marketing effort. This is why personal branding plays a key role in modern branding.

Understanding human emotions is key to advancing your business. Understand yourself well enough to create a brand personality and voice that is authentic and which your customers can identify with. Understand your customers to know what content they want and what factors affect their thoughts and choices. With a dash of love, creativity and data, you can achieve the happy business that you envisioned when you first started on your entrepreneurial journey.

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Vermilion Pinstripes is a sales marketing and communications agency based in Port Macquarie, Australia and in Singapore.
As partners and agents for Hubspot, Active Campaign and Kounta point of sales software, it's amazing how we have a team who use maths, science, creativity and psychology in this modern marketing era to help small businesses and B2B organisations connect with MORE of their most profitable customers using a simple, clear and structured purpose-driven sales, marketing and communications plan to gain brand clarity so that they can grow their business and achieve returns on investment (RoI).
We are proud to count growing local, regional and global businesses gain business confidence. Let's build yours! 

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