We’re Hitting the PAUSE Button!

We are writing to let you know that we will be putting Brand Building for Small Business on Hiatus while we spend time developing a new project.

A short pause while we explore a new project!

We published our first article (“Build vs. Buy”) on August 28, 2019 . . . and have added 131 pieces over the past three years.   We have appreciated the opportunity to interact with a growing audience, and we sincerely hope that both new and existing subscribers will continue to explore and use the content we have already made available. 

When we defined our brand, we determined that our focus would be providing a useful tool to smaller businesses – the kind of largely under-appreciated entrepreneurs who form such a large portion of the American business landscape.    Having worked many years for a company that targeted this same audience (a company that was – in fact – a small, underdog start-up at the time I was hired), Carole and I felt we brought some meaningful knowledge and expertise to the table.  Hopefully (three years later), you agree.  In establishing our brand, we also decided that we wanted to have a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) focus – believing that many small business owners would of necessity be taking on the challenges of building their own brands.  Consequently, we have tried to offer a blend of the conceptual framework needed to build a successful brand as well as practical tips and instruction. 

We promise to keep checking the site on an ongoing basis and will respond to any comments or special requests for new specific topics.  You can use the Comment boxes below each article to get a message to us, or you are welcome to send us a private e-mail at brandbuildingforsmallbusiness@gmail.com.  We promise to consider your input carefully.

While we are developing our new brainchild, you can expect us to occasionally post a new Quick Tip or two and will keep you posted about our activity.  Meanwhile, good luck with your branding efforts . . . and keep checking out our content at www.brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.

See you later . . . !!

How to Create a Branded Happy Birthday Card for Your Business in Microsoft Word

A hand-written note in a branded birthday card goes a long way for showing your employees and your clients that your business is professional and that you care.

Thankfully, the process is easy.  I’m going to take you through the steps of making a folded 5×7” branded birthday card in Microsoft Word.

1. Open Microsoft Word and create a New Blank Document.  Change the margins of the page by selecting the Layout tab (at the top), clicking the Margins button, selecting Custom Margins, and changing the Top, Bottom, Left, and Right margins to .25 inches.

2. Click the Insert tab (at the top), click Text Box within the Text section, and select Simple Text Box.  Click the outline of the rectangle, hover over the center handle of the bottom line, and click and drag downward to increase the size just a bit. Then, right click the rectangle, choose More Layout Options…, click the Size tab, and input a Height of 10”. Next, select Absolute within the Width section and input 7”; click the Position tab and uncheck “Move object with text” from the Options section.  Right click the rectangle and select Format Shape.  Format the Fill as No Fill and the Line as a Solid Line, Black, 1pt in Width, and Dashed. 

3. Under the Format Shape heading, click Text Options, and select the icon to the furthest right that says Layout & Properties on mouseover. Change the Vertical Alignment to Bottom and input 0” for the Top, Bottom, Right, and Left margins. Click the content within the rectangle, which will select everything, and press delete.  Then repeat step 2 except select Draw Text Box instead of Simple Text Box and make the size of this text box 6.9” in height by 4.9” in width.  Within the Position tab, select Alignment within the Horizontal section and Centered from the drop down to its immediate right; change the Absolute position within the Vertical section to 5.5”.  Format the Fill as No Fill and the Line as No Line.

4. Set the alignment to centered by pressing Ctrl + E; then, type “Happy Birthday”.  Press the enter key to advance a couple lines spaces and insert your logo (Insert tab >  Pictures > This Device > browse to the image file for your logo > Insert).

Now you’re obviously going to want to do some formatting.  I added some line spaces, decreased the size of our logo to 1” in height, and changed the font of “Thank You” to Candellion in 80 pt.

5. Then, save your file, print on card stock, and cut!

Good luck! 

If you have any questions or comments on this topic, we’d love to hear from you.  Scroll down to the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Press Release Generator – Sample Press Release Announcing an Employee Promotion

In an earlier article, we discussed Press Releases as Another Opportunity for Branding.  Specifically, we addressed some of the basic criteria needed to produce a successful PR piece, including discussions about:  Topics, Voice, Audience, Outlets, Format, Quotes and Photos, and Post-Submission Follow-up.  In a second article, we wrote a Press Release to Introduce Ourselves as Part of National Small Business Week (in 2020).  In two other articles, we provided the following press release generators:  Identifying Your Content and Sample Press Release Announcing a New Hire.  As promised, we are now providing a similar template for publicizing a staff promotion.  (As before, we are hoping these tips will help keep you from getting stuck staring at a blank, crumpled page!)

In getting started, remember that the rule of the 5 W’s still applies, so we encourage you to review our earlier articles.  We also want to remind you that voice matters – you must write as though you were a totally objective journalist preparing the story.  Similarly, the content must be of interest to the audience of the intended publications.  

As previously noted, announcements of new employee hires and/or promotions are among the most common press releases and the easiest to place – assuming the publication has a section for including such pieces.  (Many do – particularly trade magazines and papers.)  However, be aware that some outlets might be willing to include all or most of the information you provide . . . but many will reduce your words to a skeletal, bare-minimum sentence or two.  If that is the standard practice, a quick glance at past issues will let you know whether new hires and promotions are featured and the kind of space devoted to each one.

Secondary Benefit

When preparing a press release on a promotion, be aware that you are also realizing a secondary benefit – by sending your current employees a message that you are an employer dedicated to giving existing staff a chance for advancement and that you have a track record for filling attractive positions from within the organization.  By making this quality part of your brand, you help yourself become an “employer of choice,” and you encourage your existing staff to be happy, contented employees, which in turn shows up in the quality of your company’s service and the satisfaction of your customers. 

Once again, you need to make sure your same press release works for most circumstances.  To do so, confirm that the essence of your PR article is in the opening sentences with all other less critical information following (realizing that much could be cut by certain targets).  Also, plan to include a head-and-shoulder photo of the featured employee.

Below is a fill-in-the-blanks-template:

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release

CONTACT INFORMATION:

[Company Name]
[Contact Name]
[Phone Number]
[E-mail Address]

[Date]

[HEADLINE ex.  NAME (of the Employee) PROMOTED TO

(title of the position) by COMPANY NAME

[CITY, STATE, MONTH DATE][COMPANY] has announced the promotion of [EMPLOYEE FULL NAME] to the position of [TITLE].  In this new capacity, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be responsible for [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES].

Note:  Body paragraphs then follow this opening (i.e., background information, quotes, company description, etc.)

Since first joining [COMPANY] in [YEAR OF HIRE], [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] has served as the [TITLE OF OLD JOB].  Specifically, [he/she] handled [MENTION DUTIES].   During that time, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] was credited with a variety of important accomplishments, including [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS/CONTRIBUTIONS].

Note:  Add the next paragraph when the past history of employee with the company includes multiple jobs worth highlighting.  Repeat as needed to encompass complete work history, incorporating the most relevant and recent positions.  You can also choose to insert any new education and/or licensing credentials that might have played a part in earning the promotion.

Prior to that position, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] served in other roles of increasing responsibility and authority.  [He/She] was [TITLE] from [DATE] to [DATE] and also accumulated several years of related experience with other companies.

According to [NAME OF NEW SUPERVISOR OR OTHER HIGHLY PLACED OFFICIAL WILLING TO BE QUOTED], “[COMPANY] is very pleased to be giving [EMPLOYEE FULL NAME] a chance to use [his/her] years of experience with our organization to better serve our customers.   We fully expect [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be an asset in the years to come that allows us to provide our customers with the high-quality products and services they deserve while enabling us to achieve our goals for growth as a company.  As you may know, [COMPANY] has a long-standing policy of promoting from within whenever possible. That way, both our staff and customers benefit from the knowledge and skills acquired over time while ensuring the continued high quality of our brand.”

Note:  Optionally add contact information on the person being promoted.

“While [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be reaching out to constituents soon, [he/she] can be contacted before then at [PHONE AND EXTENTION] or [E-MAIL].”

Note:  Your “boilerplate” company description that outlines the products, services, history, location, hours, etc. then gets added.  See our Style Guide for further information.

While the boilerplate language of different companies will be quite individual to reflect the specific history and characteristics of that particular business, a simple example might be: 

“Established in [YEAR], [COMPANY NAME] specializes in providing [PRODUCT/SERVICES] to customers located in [GEOGRAPHICAL OPERATING AREA].  Open [LIST HOURS/DAYS] or available 24/7 online by visiting [WEB SITE ADDRESS], [COMPANY NAME] [IS ENDORSED BY/IS KNOWN FOR] and encourages customers to learn more.  In recent years, [COMPANY NAME] has grown substantially and is looking to achieve similar increases during the upcoming months.”

As you can see, your boilerplate text provides you with a chance to briefly tell your story while giving potential customers a means of acting on their interest.  The above is just one very basic example.  Be sure to tailor yours to tell your story in the most effective possible way.

_________________

As always, we welcome any thoughts or feedback, and we encourage you to comment by using the space provided below.  We would be happy to receive special requests to provide other sample press releases in the future. 

Want a Word document of this example? Just click!

Good luck!

Creating a ‘Follow Us on Social Media’ Sign 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.

About Corel Draw: 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. If, however, buying a copy has been on your to do list for a while, there’s no time like the present. You can buy yours here and support this blog in 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.

You’ve created your social media pages to reinforce and promote your brand, and you regularly dedicate your time to adding content, so you want to be sure you’re taking every opportunity to properly promote your social media presence.  If your small business has a physical location (office, retail store, etc.), hanging a sign in a high-traffic area is a great option and relatively quick and easy.  I’ll show you the steps to create such sign in Corel Draw.

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

2. Select the Rectangle Tool:

Draw a rectangle in any size and then make sure the Lock Ratio is unlocked:

Then switch to the Pick tool:

Change the size of the rectangle to 8” wide x 10” high and then press ‘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:

3. With the outline of your sign ready, next you can include the social media logos of your choosing.  Since potential legal issues associated with using other companies’ logos can be daunting, we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled the logos that the major social media outlet wants you to use along with the rules for each.  Visit our post, A “Legal-Approved” Free Collection of Social Media Icons, and simply copy a logo you would like to use from the post and paste the graphic into your Corel Draw file.  Repeat the process for each logo you would like to use.  I’ve selected three and each image is on top of the other at this point:

With one of the logos selected, lock the Lock Ratio and change the height of each logo to about 1.4”.  You may need to move the logos around using the Pick tool so you can access each of them.

4. Next, select the Text tool so you could begin adding content:

Click anywhere on the page and type your business’s information for one of your chosen social media outlets.  Then, set the alignment of the text to centered and choose your font and font size.  I’m going to use Calibri in size 20:

Repeat that process for the remainder of your social media outlets:

Now let’s add the heading.  I’m going to do “follow us” and “on social media” in two different fonts so I will create them as two separate text objects.  Using the Text tool, click anywhere on the page and type “follow us.”  I’m going to use the Candelion font at 160 pts in size and center the alignment.  Repeat the process for “on social media”, which I’m going to type in all caps, add a space between each character, and set the font properties to Calibri, 25 pts, and centered.

5. You’ll see your sign is starting to come to life.  Now you just need to clean it up.  Press Ctrl + A, which will select all the objects in your document and then press ‘c’ to horizontally center them all:

Then, move the objects around using the Pick tool till everything seems vertically balanced.  (Once you select an object, press Ctrl and continue to hold the key down while you move the object to retain its horizontal placement.)

6. Save your file, print (be sure to set your printer Print Quality to the best available option), cut (on the dotted line, which is 8×10”), and frame!

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.

Press Release Generator – Sample Press Release Announcing a New Hire

In an earlier article, we discussed Press Releases as Another Opportunity for Branding.  Specifically, we addressed some of the basic criteria needed to produce a successful PR piece, including discussions about:  Topics, Voice, Audience, Outlets, Format, Quotes and Photos, and Post-Submission Follow-up.  In a second article, we wrote a Press Release to Introduce Ourselves as Part of National Small Business Week (in 2020).  In yet another article, we provided a general Press Release Generator – Identifying Your Content.  At that time, we promised to begin providing examples of the specific kinds of press releases we have mentioned just in case anyone happens to still be sitting staring at a blank page after having crumpled up a dozen failed efforts.

In getting started, the rule of the 5 W’s still applies, so we encourage you to review our earlier articles.  We also want to remind you that voice matters – you must write as though you were a totally objective journalist preparing the story.  Similarly, the content must be of interest to the audience of the intended publications.

That said, the announcement of new employee hires and/or promotions are among the most common press releases and the easiest to place – assuming the publication has a section for including such pieces.  (Many do – particularly trade magazines and papers.)  However, be aware that some outlets might be willing to include all or most of the information you provide . . . but many will reduce your words to a skeletal, bare-minimum sentence or two.  If that is the standard practice, a quick glance at past issues will let you know whether new hires and promotions are featured and the kind of space devoted to each one.

To make sure the same press release works for most circumstances, you just need to be sure the essence of your PR article is in the opening sentences with all other less critical information following (realizing that much could be cut by certain targets).  Also, plan to include a head-and-shoulder photo of the featured employee.

Below is a fill-in-the-blanks-template:

_________________

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release

CONTACT INFORMATION:

[Company Name]

[Contact Name]

[Phone Number]

[E-mail Address]

[Date]

[HEADLINE ex.  NAME (of the New Hire) JOINS COMPANY NAME]

[CITY, STATE, MONTH DATE][COMPANY] has announced the addition of [EMPLOYEE FULL NAME] as the new [TITLE].  In this new capacity, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be responsible for [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES].

Note:  Body paragraphs then follow this opening (i.e., background information, quotes, company description, etc.)

Before joining [COMPANY], [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] served as the [TITLE OF OLD JOB] for [NAME OF OLD COMPANY] from [START DATE OF MOST RECENT OLD JOB] to [END DATE OF MOST RECENT OLD JOB].  Specifically, [he/she] handled [MENTION DUTIES]

Note:  Add the next paragraph when the past history of employee includes multiple jobs.  Repeat as needed to encompass complete work history, incorporating the most relevant and recent positions.  (Typically, no need to go back to part-time jobs while in school!!)  You can also choose to insert any education and/or licensing credentials that might be useful once past jobs are addressed.

Prior to that position, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] was also employed by [SECOND OLD COMPANY] as a [TITLE] from [DATE] to [DATE].

According to [NAME OF NEW SUPERVISOR OR OTHER HIGHLY PLACED OFFICIAL WILLING TO BE QUOTED], “[COMPANY] is very pleased to be adding an individual with the skill and experience needed to successfully enhance our operations and meet our goals for growth and customer satisfaction.  We fully expect [EMPLOYEE FULL NAME] will be an asset in the years to come that allows us to provide our customers with the high-quality products and services they deserve.”

Note:  Optionally add contact information.

“While[EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be reaching out to constituents soon, [he/she] can be contacted before then at [PHONE AND EXTENTION] or [E-MAIL].”

Note:  Your “boiler plate” company description that outlines the products, services, history, location, hours, etc. then gets added.  See our Style Guide for further information.

Also, please be aware that this “new employee” template can be easily adapted to address employee promotions.  We plan to provide an example of that kind of press release soon.

_________________

As always, we welcome any thoughts or feedback, and we encourage you to comment by using the space provided below.  While we intend to provide other sample press releases in the coming weeks, we would be happy to receive special requests. 

Want a Word document of this example? Just click!

Good luck!