Role of Branding in Business Plans

As a small business entrepreneur, you’ve probably had one or more of the following needs to prepare a business plan.  To:

  • Help start up a new business.
  • Get capital for an existing business to fund growth.
  • Recruit investors.
  • Obtain a grant.
  • Develop strategic alliances with potential partners.
  • Sell a company.
  • Expand into a new area of operation.
  • Attract employees.
  • Plan for the future.
  • Etc.

If so, you already know that most templates and discussions about appropriate content seem to contain similar advice. 

Being a bit different can help you stand out from the crowd.

For example, Indeed.com offers the following:

10 essential components of a business plan

Effective business plans must contain several key components that cover various aspects of a company’s goals. The most important parts of a business plan include:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Business description
  3. Market analysis and strategy
  4. Marketing and sales plan
  5. Competitive analysis
  6. Management and organization description
  7. Products and services description
  8. Operating plan
  9. Financial projection and needs
  10. Exhibits and appendices”

(See https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/parts-to-a-business-plan#  for more information.)

If you go to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_plan), you will find a very similar general outline, though with a few variations such as a separate subsection for the company Mission Statement.  However, I personally have not found that many of these discussions and templates have chosen to overtly incorporate a discussion about branding.

Frankly, mine have, and yours should!

Specifically, consider including a section labeled “Branding” that incorporates a discussion of the current status (showing any research done) as well as plans and expectations for the future.  These days, brand has a very real and monetary value.   I’m sure all of us have heard of someone buying another company “for the name” because the reputation associated with that entity has value in the marketplace.  These days, I believe you should think of brand similarly.

 Although I do believe brand can be appropriately included as a separate named section, you can also build your content into several of the sections traditionally included in most Business Plans.

For instance:

Business Description – Since your brand encompasses both your product and the services used to deliver that product, any Business Description will benefit by including a discussion of this kind.  Also, the process of defining your brand identifies your audience which, in turn, clearly suggests the needed distribution channels.

Market Analysis and Sales Plan – Your chosen niche within the marketplace is defined by the way in which you identify and communicate your brand.  By discussing your market in this way, your analysis will be more precise and your strategy will be more persuasive.

Competitive Analysis – A well-formed brand communicates the way in which you’ve chosen to differentiate yourself from others and highlight the sales advantages you’ve carved out for your operation.   If you try to write this section without incorporating your brand (i.e., who you are), a clear description of your competitors (those who share some of the same products and services) will not be possible.

Products and Services – This section generally includes additional details about the products and services provided by your company, so highlighting the qualities that distinguish them (i.e., their branding) is both appropriate and useful.  Also, a discussion of your brand can illustrate some of the “spin offs” that can evolve to take advantage of the existing audience of your brand.  Furthermore, part of the brand of your company is your underlying service philosophy and the standard of excellence you establish.  Such qualities are the ones that help create a corporate culture associated with your brand in the eyes of both your customers and your staff.

Operating Plan – In discussing the day-to-day operations of your company, including how you go about delivering your products and services to consumers (number of employees, equipment required, etc.), be sure to highlight the ways in which a strong, branded corporate culture supports those activities as well as describing any visual clues you might be using to help define yourself.  For example, will uniforms be required?  What kind of signage will support operations?  What form of communication will be put into place to set customer expectations and ensure smooth trouble-free operations?  If a separate section for Risk Factors is not included, that content might become part of this section, and the success and failures of your branding play a huge part.

Exhibits and Appendices – Among the typical exhibits you might find in the appendices are brief bios of key staff, organization charts, flow charts, etc.  Similarly, you should consider including any research done to support the success of your branding.  For example, results of a survey that suggest a high degree of name recognition within the community would be very useful as well as commentary from focus groups that suggest your brand has positive connotations.  I would also consider adding a page about your Brand Style Guide or perhaps a copy.  (See https://brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com/2019/09/17/brand-basics-part-3-the-role-of-a-brand-style-guide/.)  Finally, your Brand Plan should be addressed similarly.  (An upcoming article will be devoted to the creation of this separate document.)

As these examples suggest, a company’s branding can play a part in virtually every section of your business plan.  When drafting a section, you just need to continuously remind yourself to consider whether some thoughts about the role of branding should play a part.  Nine times out of ten, the answer will be “yes,” though the references can range from the incidental to the extensive.

New Year Resolution: Perform an Annual 5-Step Brand Wellness Checkup

As I write this article, a New Year has just begun . . . bringing a much-welcomed fresh start. 

We all hope (and optimistically expect) that 2021 will be a much better, more normal year for all of us – including small businesses that suffered such hardships during 2020.  For them (our primary audience), I offer my best wishes for a strong start as well as a suggestion for an additional New Year’s resolution:  performance of a simple “annual brand checkup” to identify and make any needed adjustments.

Please note that I have chosen the word “checkup” very carefully to suggest a simple self-help exercise – not a complete “brand audit” that can be highly structured, very time consuming, and quite expensive when third parties are utilized.  As a quick DIY alternative that can, therefore, be accomplished much more frequently, the 5 Steps of a Brand Wellness Checkup include the following:

  1. Examine all of your advertising, web site, and collateral sales and instructional material to make sure the documents conform to your Style Guide.  If they do not, you need to determine whether the materials or the guide need updating.
  2. Determine whether the qualities used to define yourself and, therefore, your brand are still the right ones and are practiced daily by your staff and operations.  To do this, talk to your employees and check in with a few of your regular customers.  (Since we are talking about a checkup – not an audit – a number of informal conversations might be all that is needed . . . as opposed to surveys, telemarketing efforts, research focus groups etc.)
  3. Look at your logo and branding statements with a fresh eye to determine whether they still reflect who you are and want to be.  If not, incorporate a gradual revision into your plans – allowing sufficient time and resources to do the job well.
  4. Revisit your customer service protocols to make sure they are delivering the level of excellence you seek, making any needed adjustments to your practices.
  5. Reinforce your branding message with your staff to make sure your identity is getting communicated to customers in the intended way.

Remember, the point of this exercise is to make sure that at least once a year you stop and revisit your most basic branding decisions and their implementation.  By doing so annually, you can make sure you do not unwittingly drift off course . . . and can make minor adjustments to right yourself before a major, potentially difficult, and expensive overhaul is required.  (To learn more about activities associated with the items mentioned above, visit our menu item labeled “Your Brand:  The Beginning” or visit this page.)

While most New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned by February, this goal is one that can and should be done as early as possible at the start of the year.

Good luck . . . and keep thinking positive thoughts about 2021 and beyond.

How to Write a Vision Statement (Including Definitions, Examples, and a Vision Statement Generator)

Your business’s vision statement communicates your ultimate goal. 

Since mission and vision statements are usually discussed in the same conversation, your mission statement is what you do, while your vision statement is the view once you’re done.

Below are a few formal definitions to elaborate on the concept.


DEFINITIONS

According to . . .

[A vision statement is] an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action.

Similar to a mission statement, a vision statement provides a concrete way for stakeholders, especially employees, to understand the meaning and purpose of your business. However, unlike a mission statement – which describes the who, what and why of your business – a vision statement describes the desired long-term results of your company’s efforts. For example, an early Microsoft vision statement was “a computer on every desk and in every home.”

“A company vision statement reveals, at the highest levels, what an organization most hopes to be and achieve in the long term,” said Katie Trauth Taylor, CEO of writing consultancy Untold Content. “It serves a somewhat lofty purpose – to harness all the company’s foresight into one impactful statement.”


EXAMPLES

Want to see those conceptual definitions in action?  Below are a number of examples to scroll though to see the different ways famous companies communicate their vision.

Google: “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

Target: “Guided commitments to great value, the community, diversity, and the environment.”

Ebay: “To be the world’s favorite destination for discovering great value and unique selection.”

Nordstrom: “To serve our customers better, to always be relevant in their lives and to form lifelong relationships. And while serving our customer face-to-face is the foundation and hallmark of how we’ve historically served them, today customers seek our service in new ways. Speed, convenience, innovation, and personalization have become cornerstones of the customer experience. Guided by these new needs, we continue to invest in the cross-channel experience, combining the accessibility of pure online experience with the high-touch inclusivity of our stores.”

Versace: “To make women and men feel beautiful and empowered.”

BBC: “To act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.”

Netflix: “Becoming the best global entertainment distribution service; licensing entertainment content around the world; creating markets that are accessible to film makers; and helping content creators around the world to find a global audience.”

The Bank of New York: “Improving lives through inclusion, innovation and investing.”

  J.P. Morgan: “Aspire to be the best; execute superbly; build a great team and a winning culture.”

 Walgreens: “To be America’s most-loved pharmacy-led health, well-being and beauty company.”

CVS: “We strive to improve the quality of human life.”

United Way:  “United Way envisions a community where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, financial stability and healthy lives.”

Make-a-Wish: “To be able to make every eligible child’s wish come true.”

General Motors: “To create a future of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion, and we have committed ourselves to leading the way toward this future.”

Tesla: “To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.”

Apple:  “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing.”

IBM: “To be the world’s most successful and important information technology company.”

Starbucks: “To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.”

Taco Bell: “To grow into the largest fast-food provider of Mexican style cuisine in emerging markets.”

Burger King: “To be the most profitable QSR business, through a strong franchise system and great people, serving the best burgers in the world.”

McDonalds: “To move with velocity to drive profitable growth and become an even better McDonald’s serving more customers delicious food each day around the world.”


ANATOMY OF A VISION STATEMENT

As you may have noticed, most vision statements are comprised of the same basic components.  I’ll use our vision statement here at Brand Building for Small Business as an example:

While I have the different parts listed numerically for clarity, the order isn’t important.  As you’ve seen throughout the dozens of examples, these components can look very different from one company to the next.  All that matters is that you’ve clearly and fully communicated the vision of your company.


VISION STATEMENT GENERATOR

Now it’s your turn.  Try creating a vision statement for your business based on the structure below.

Here’s another example for good measure . . .

Have any questions?  As always, we’d love to hear from you.  Scroll below to the “Leave a Reply” section.  Happy vision statement drafting!

How to Set Up Simple Print-and-Cut Business Cards in Corel Draw

Disclaimer:  While we only recommend products we know and love, we want to note we use affiliate links and may earn a commission for purchases made through those links.

If you’re a graphic designer by trade, Corel Draw may not be your graphics editor of choice.  If you’re a small business owner without a lot of graphic design experience choosing to do your branding in-house, Corel Draw is a great choice.  You can pretty much address all your web and print graphics needs for a fraction of the price of the typical designer preference, Adobe. Since you’ve landed on this page in your travels, you probably already know that.  Your stumbling block may be that blank page within Corel that you’re staring at while wondering the quickest and easiest way to get professional-looking business cards designed, printed, and ready to hand out.  We’ll take you step by step through the process.

A Quick Note About Versions: I’m using Corel Draw 18. As long as you’re using a version in that same vicinity (i.e., 16, 17, 19, or 20), your view should look pretty similar to the screenshots included throughout these directions.

1.  From within Corel Draw, go to File > New.  You want an 8.5 x 11” portrait page that’s CMYK and 300 dpi:

2. Select the Graph Paper Tool:

Input 2 columns by 5 rows:

Draw the graph in any size and then switch to the Pick tool:

Change the size of the graph to 7” wide x 10” high and then type “p” to center the object on the page:

Double click the Outline Pen at the bottom right of the screen and change the color to dark gray, the width to hairline, and the style to dashed:

Then press Ungroup Objects with the graph still selected:

3. With the layout of your business card document ready, Go to File > Import and navigate to an image of your logo and click the Import button.  Then, resize as desired and place your image within the top left rectangle.  To ensure your logo is perfectly horizontally centered within the space, select the logo first, hold down the “shift” key to be able to select multiple objects, select the rectangle, at which point you can deselect shift; then, press “c” with both objects selected.

Select the Text tool so you could begin adding content:

Click anywhere on the page and type your name; press enter and add your title; then, continue adding the rest of the details you would like to show on your business card.  I’m going to include my title, phone number, email address, and web site.  Finally, set the alignment of the text to centered and choose your font and font size.  I’m going to use Calibri, size 11 for my name; size 10 for my title; and 7.5 for the rest of the information.

Move the text to the desired spot within the rectangle and horizontally center the two (click the text, press the ”shift” key while also selecting the rectangle; then, press “c”):

Now, you’ll want to adjust the spacing a bit.  With the text selected, press Ctrl + k to break each line into its own text object.  Then, I’m going to stretch out the character spacing of my name from 0% to 150%.  To do so, press Ctrl + t to edit the text properties. 

To ensure the two words don’t run into one another with the extended character spacing, I’m going to change the Word Spacing from 100% to 450%:

For my title, I’m going to use 50% character spacing and 250% word spacing.

Next, I’m going to select the phone number, e-mail address, and web site – pressing the down arrow key a few times until I’m happy with the placement:

4. And now we’ve got one business card in place!  To distribute the card design throughout the page so they can be printed ten at a time, select the rectangle you’ve been working on along with all the content inside and press Ctrl + g to group them together.  Press Ctrl + d to duplicate the business card:

Keeping the newly created business card selected, press the “shift” key while selecting the top right rectangle; then, press “e” to vertically center and “c” to horizontally center:

Select your two business cards and press Ctrl + g to group the two together and then Ctrl + d to duplicate them both:

With your newly created group of two business cards selected, press shift while selecting the second rectangle in the first column, and press “t” to top align the objects and “l” to left align the objects:

Repeat that process until all the rectangles are filled with your business cards:

5. Save your file and print; be sure to set your Print Quality to the best available option.

When choosing your paper, I recommend a quality cardstock between 80 and 100 lb — any thinner, and your business card will be too flimsy; any thicker, and you risk problems using the paper in a conventional home printer. A matte versus glossy finish is really a personal preference, but you do avoid any potential for fingerprints on a matte stock.

Then, cut!  For the cleanest and straightest edges, use a paper cutter.  

A Note About Fonts and Colors:
While the instructions described above will achieve the simple and modern design pictured, you can (and should) customize the look for your business. If you’ve been brand building from the start, you already have a Style Guide in place, and everything you create for your business should reflect the guidelines you’ve set for your logo usage, fonts, and colors. If you’re new to branding, be sure to review our story on The Role of a Brand Style Guide.

How to Set Up Simple Print-and-Cut Business Cards in Microsoft Word

You want simple, nice, and professional looking business cards.  Easy, Peasy, right?  Unfortunately, creating business cards from scratch can be a little intimidating for even a tech-savvy person.  Thankfully, Microsoft Word actually makes a decent amount of business card templates available to you.  While the focus is clearly quantity versus quality, their templates do save you a number of groundwork steps, so they are a good place to start.  You can go from a blank Word document to print-ready business cards in only ten steps. . . . 

(For a personalize-and-print option for $6, skip to the end.)

1.  From within Microsoft Word, go to File > New and type “business cards” into the search box. 

Scroll down through the search results to the vertical “flower personal business cards”.

Press Create.

2. Right click the cross within a square at the upper left and choose Table Properties.

Select Table > Borders and Shading > Border and set the Setting to All, the Style to dashed, the Color to light gray, and the Width to ¼ pt; press OK.

Then go to Cell and set the Vertical Alignment to Centered and press OK once again.  You now have business cards that are horizontally and vertically centered with very faint visual guides for cutting.

3. Delete all the content from the first card, insert your logo, and size to your liking, keeping in mind you will need space for your contact information.

4. Press enter to advance to the next line and set the font to Calibri, the font size to 11, and the font color to black.  Press Ctrl + D for advanced font and character options.  Click the Advanced tab and set the Character Spacing to Expanded By 3 pt.  Press OK and turn your Caps Lock on.  Type your name.

5. Press return to advance to the next line.  Change the font to Calibri Light and the font size to 10.  Click Ctrl + D, change the character spacing to .5 pt, and press OK; then, type your title.

6. Press return to advance to the next line and change the font size to 7.5.  Then include your contact information, limiting yourself to three lines. 

7. Place your cursor after your logo, right click, and go to Line Spacing Options.

Within Indents and Spacing, set the Spacing After to 6pt, and press OK.

Set the cursor after your title and repeat.

8. Once you’re happy with your layout, select the entire contents of that card, and copy by pressing Ctrl + C.  Then, select the contents of another card, press Delete, and Ctrl + V to paste your new design.

Repeat the process for the rest of the page.

9. Save your file and print; be sure to set your printer Print Quality to the best available option. (When choosing your paper, I recommend a quality cardstock in between 80 and 100 lb — any thinner, and your business card will be too flimsy; any thicker, and you risk problems using the paper in a conventional home printer. A matte versus glossy finish is really a personal preference, but you do avoid any potential for fingerprints on a matte stock.)

10.  Then, cut!  For the cleanest and straightest edges, use a paper cutter.   

A Note About Fonts and Colors:
While the instructions described above will achieve the simple and modern design pictured, you can (and should) customize the look for your business. If you’ve been brand building from the start, you already have a Style Guide in place, and everything you create for your business should reflect the guidelines you’ve set for your logo usage, fonts, and colors. If you’re new to branding, be sure to review our story on The Role of a Brand Style Guide.

Personalize-and-Print Template

If you would prefer to forgo the instructions above and purchase a preformatted template, the file is available for $6. In this version, you need only enter your information into one of the cards, and the rest will populate automatically. Simply type your info, print, and cut!

$6.00

The Role of a Brand Style Guide

As a small businessowner, I suspect many of you saw this headline and asked, “What is a Brand Style Guide, and why bother when I have more immediate needs that might generate income?”

“Stop!”

I can see you are about to close this page . . . and I want a shot at keeping you reading.  I’ll start by answering those two questions.

A Brand Style Guide is a written statement that defines and describes the way in which you present your business to the world.  Typically, both the message and key elements of the visual treatment are encompassed.  

Many large companies have invested millions of dollars perfecting the brand image and the message that gets presented.  Therefore, no one should be surprised that THEIR style guides are VERY detailed and address a wide variety of circumstances.  For example, MacDonald’s is quite protective of their golden arches (see https://news.mcdonalds.com/press/multimedia-library/logos).  For 50 more examples, check out https://www.canva.com/learn/50-meticulous-style-guides-every-startup-see-launching/.   That said, many smaller businesses want the benefits of having a standardized message but do not see a need for a document that does more than address key elements of branding and style.

For our blog, we fall into that latter category.  We recognize that we could benefit from articulating a few basic rules but don’t require a more elaborate guide.  Perhaps in time, that other approach might be warranted . . . but not yet.  Since we suspect many of you fall into this category, we’ll be devoting this blog entry to the creation of a small manual – our own!  (Feel free to download and review a copy . . . and use ours as a template/starting point for your own.)

We began by identifying the issues we wanted to cover:

  • Our mission and differentiating qualities (i.e., the synopsis of “Our Story”).
  • Our brand voice.
  • Our guidelines for use of our logo – attempting to make that icon our unique brand signature.
  • Our color palette.
  • The fonts used with our logo.
  • The types of photos and images selected.

Mission/Differentiating Qualities

When Carole and I decided to start our blog on marketing/communication strategies, we were determined to pass along useful how-to information and instruction that might enable a small business owner to have a highly evolved and very professional brand . . . while doing all of the required work inhouse.  Having been practitioners in this field for decades, we knew the difficulties that could be encountered in going DIY . . . as well as the very high cost of hiring third parties to perform these tasks.  For example . . . just a few years ago, a company affiliated with my employer paid $25,000 to have a style guide prepared for a new start up.  Frankly, the product delivered did not justify the cost. 

So . . . think about the characteristics that set you apart.   Those features are the heart and soul of your business plan and provide the critical backdrop needed to create your Brand Style Guide.

Page 4 of our Style Guide

Brand Voice

Are you traditional or avant garde?  Friendly and very personal . . . or somewhat distant and formal?  When you are expressing yourself, are you picturing an audience of fellow professionals . . . or the general pubic?  The way in which you answer questions such as these determines the voice that will be identified with your brand.

Carole and I naturally write with different styles.  And yet, we did set some basic parameters that will, we hope, create a single voice unique to our blog.  Specifically, we determined that we would keep our use of jargon to minimum OR (when necessary) be sure to define and explain the meaning of terms.  Similarly, we are choosing to be as anecdotal as possible, which gives our readers a chance to get to know us a bit better . . . while hopefully creating an overall friendly tone and helping others to benefit from our experiences.

Within those fairly broad parameters, we figure we will just allow ourselves to use our natural styles of writing rather than attempt to sound like each other.  We think this degree of variety/similarity works well for our purpose . . . and hope you agree.

In general, words like the following speak with our voice:  simple; straightforward; practical; experienced; convenient; direct; professional; DIY; “do it yourself”;  useful; “how to”; and self-reliant.

Use of Logo

Every logo creator hopes and intends for the graphic to become an immediately identifiable symbol.  Toward that end, consistent and frequent use of the exact image is necessary.  Our basic logo for this blog is pictured to the left.  The primary variation to be used both in print and online/onscreen is the three-color version shown at the top.  When only a single color is available (either due to the medium used or cost-saving economics) the black and gray version is permissible.  A single-color, black alternative has also been created for those select occasions when the method used to reproduce the image will not handle gray successfully.  (Example – some photocopying of forms.)

While we believe our logo is sufficiently scalable to become signage atop a building or an imprint on a golf ball . . . and all sizes in between, you need to always be sure the logo you are using has sufficient resolution (i.e., image data or tightly placed Dots Per Inch – DPI) and is being passed along in a file type suitable to the task.

Technical Note . . .

For onscreen use such as web pages, you typically want a resolution of 72 dpi in a file type such as a .jpg, .png, or .gif with an RGB (red-green-blue) color mode.  While each of these file types can be successful, only the latter two support a transparent background (jpg’s add white in null spaces rather than allowing no color).

For print purposes (including most print advertisements), you typically want a resolution of 300 dpi rendered in a CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black) color mode.  While high resolution .jpg and .png files can also be used for print, other options become available, including more easily scalable .eps (Encapsulated PostScript) or pdf (Portable Document Format) files. If you are printing in one-color black (including the black/gray variation), you will want to use a grayscale color mode.  (The logo can be reversed to feature white when used on a dark background.)

Too technical?  Perhaps.  However, the key to keeping your logo looking good at all times is to make sure the right kind of file has been used . . . and we wanted to acquaint you with some of the basic considerations that will be explored further in future blog entries – including preparation of a logo download page that can provide any third party the kind of source material needed to handle your logo correctly.

Interestingly, style guide pages on logos typically spend more time and space enumerating “Don’ts” rather than spelling out the “Dos.”  For Example:

  • DO NOT add, move, remove, replace, or reposition any portion of the logo!!  (With one of our past corporate logos in particular that was very horizonal, vendors were constantly trying to break the whole into pieces that got restacked vertically.)
  • DO NOT change any colors or fonts.
  • DO NOT stretch or distort the logo.  Remember, you can never change just the horizontal or just the vertical dimension without changing both.  Doing so creates distortion.  (Note: That’s the reason quick resizing in graphic programs always uses diagonal motions.)
  • DO NOT remove elements of the logo. (Example:  We like our hammer; don’t fill in the color!)
  • DO NOT place the logo on a busy or distracting background.
  • DO NOT apply a logo or logotype color variation to a background with insufficient contrast.
  • DO NOT create your own variations.

Every logo is custom designed;  no other combinations are permitted.  In those cases in which a logo has been trademarked, failure to use the exact versions registered can weaken or negate a legal position.

Note:  We wanted to mention that our final logo also incorporates a clear box around the icon.  We take this step to avoid any image material getting cut off during file handling, especially the rounded bottoms of letters or those with descenders.

Color Palette

As previously noted, different uses of a logo require a different “color mode” – a very tricky subject involving lots or esoteric technical information.  Bottom line:  use CMYK (or grayscale) for print and RGB for web use.  Most graphic arts programs will give you the ability to switch back and forth between these modes.  However, you will note that print and onscreen versions of the same color can vary somewhat, which is the reason these programs include elaborate methods of color correction.  Rule of thumb – a CMYK color viewed on your computer will seldom reproduce in exactly the same way when printed.  Getting these two to match is as much an art (tempered by experience) as a science.  Nevertheless, use of the right color modes will almost always produce a result that is at least acceptable.

For example . . .

  • The lighter blue in our logo’s B, A, D = RGB 69-96-128; CMYK 81-60-31-10.
  • The darker blue in R, N, and BUILDING = RGB 39-59-84; CMYK 89-74-45-38.
  • The hammer is white (RGB 255-255-255; CMYK 0-0-0-0), and “for small business” is pure black (RGB 0-0-0; CMYK 0-0-0-100).
  • For those somewhat rare applications requiring a grayscale color mode, the lighter gray is L88, the darker gray is L35, the black is L0, and white is L255.

Once you become familiar with expressing colors as formulas, you will be able to communicate successfully with vendors such as commercial printers, graphic artists, and other professionals.  Until then, we wanted you to be aware that these color systems exist (as well as a variety of others such as Pantone/PMS, HEX, LAB, etc.) so you’ll be able to act appropriately upon being told 0-0-0-0, and you’ll understand that 51-51-51 is not a code for an “Area” in Roswell, New Mexico.

Fonts

Our logo incorporates two fonts:  Titullian Web Black for the words BRAND and BUILDING and Candelon Regular applied to “for small business.”

For the text of our blog, we’ve chosen to use Georgia. 

If you are looking to reproduce these fonts or want a resource for finding others, we suggest you check out https://fonts.google.com/.  Other alternatives exist, but we’ve found this one to be good and useful.

Photos/Other Iconography

For our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we elected to highlight our logo as the primary imagery on the page – hopefully calling added attention to that item.  Since we needed some other photo just to properly balance the page, we selected neutral content that would recede into the background and not compete.

Nevertheless, we do anticipate periodically using a photo or other graphic element to enhance the point being made and to add some visual interest.  When making such choices, the following will be some of our considerations:

  • Use of people; generally speaking, faces make an image more interesting. 
  • Demographic diversity.
  • Positive energy (Are the people smiling and happy?  Excited?).
  • Contemporary (not necessarily young but avoiding elements, such as old cars or computers, that date a picture).
  • Simplicity (not too many elements and generally tending to closer focal points).
  • Compatible colors.
  • Narrative relevance; humor when possible.

By-lines/Tag Lines

Many companies successfully incorporated a tag line into their brand identity. Ever hear the phrase “Breakfast of Champions” or perhaps “Betcha can’t eat just one”?

(See https://www.thebalancecareers.com/best-advertising-taglines-ever-39208.)

When building your brand, consider your options, remembering that a good tag line reflects a differentiating quality, reminds us about a key benefit, and imparts a positive feeling.  If you do have or develop a tag line, be sure to specify any rules for usage in relation to your logo.  (Very often, tag lines become part of the graphic.)

While we have not adopted a fixed position or graphic treatment for our tag line, we have chosen the language:  “A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”

Boilerplate

A short description of your product or service will often be needed when sending out press releases, producing sales literature, creating marketing ads, and even filling out forms.  To ensure a consistent, properly branded message, you should develop one or more variations of such a description.   For us, one short paragraph seemed adequate to get started:

“Produced by two experienced communication professionals, Brand Building for Small Business is a blog that aims to provide practical, do-it-yourself advice about creating a brand identity from the bottom up . . . and using that vehicle to help generate income streams.  Expect simple, straightforward tips that can be executed by a single person or a small group on a very tight budget.”

Your Brand

Probably the single most important rule for a Brand Style Guide is to use the rules regularly, to incorporate the elements into your decision-making process, and to not allow yourself too many exceptions . . . though some necessities will certainly turn up.

Companies that spend thousands of dollars getting a guide prepared for them have a built-in incentive to dictate their use . . . while your motivation as a small business for creating and sticking to your guide is less immediate – more of an act of faith.

However, your efforts can pay off.  Successful brands are those with elements that resonate with the audience . . . those that are based in reality and communicate a truthful message in both spoken and unspoken ways.  So, be honest with yourself in making your underlying branding decisions, and you’ll stand a very good chance at building a great brand identity.

BTW . . . Changing a brand is another story for the future.  Whether small refinements are being introduced or a more basic overhaul is underway, this task is a daunting one and is another good reason for being careful in determining your initial brand building efforts.

Once again, feel free to download a complete copy of our Brand Style Guide for use as a starting point in developing your own.  Save some time that can be devoted to other sales strategies!