How to Build Your Brand 10 Minutes at a Time

Photo Credit: jcomp – http://www.freepik.com

You start small.

Us humans generally hate new initiatives.  They’re intimidating and elusive, and we almost never know where or how to begin.  However, the trick — I’ve learned — does not lie in picking the perfect point of entry . . . or executing the perfect strategy.  The trick is simply to begin.  And an excellent way to convince yourself that it’s okay to begin is to plan your ending.  Set a timer if you must.  Promise to dedicate no more than 10 minutes to the task you’ve been procrastinating.  But.  Here’s the important part.  Do it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the day after that.  You will be amazed at the progress that can be made . . . 10 minutes at a time.

So, engaging our audience with ideas and how-tos for 10-minute chunks of branding progress is going to be the new approach for us at Brand Building for Small Business. Frankly, I was running out of time to contribute to this blog.  I love what we’ve created thus far and am extremely thankful for our followers who take the time out of their lives to read our posts and come back week after week.  Still, I was struggling to find the hours needed to put together my thoughts and share step-by-step how tos.  Like most people, my life is pretty full.  I own a small business, I’m raising two teenagers, I’m trying to maintain a household . . . and my sanity.  I’m only somewhat successful.  😊 As a result, I considered approaching our blog with this 10-minute strategy, which I’ve already effectively used to tackle a number of other areas of my life (says the women with a freshly caulked tub).  Knowing my time deficit is not an uncommon challenge, I had a lightbulb moment.  What if my partner and I each focus on dedicating only 10 minutes a day to this blog, writing about all the ways you can build your brand in only 10 minutes a day. . . .  There’s a lovely little symmetry there that spoke to us, and I hope the approach speaks to you.  Stay tuned. . . .

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.

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.

How to Easily Create Letterhead for Your Business in Corel Draw (Template Included)

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 can have yours ready to use in about ten minutes, assuming, of course, you’ve already made the hard decisions about your brand identity and:

  • already have a logo;
  • have your chosen fonts; and
  • have selected your color palette to use with your logo.

(If not, we encourage you to read Design Your Own Logo and The Role of a Brand Style Guide first.)

Now, on to the process . . . .

1. Launch Corel Draw and click the “New Document” button on the Welcome Screen.  Set the document to 8.5” wide by 11” high, CMYK color mode, and 300 dpi; click “OK.”

Then, you’ll want to prepare the document a bit.  First, click on the “Snap To” dropdown towards the top of the page; check Document Grid, Guidelines, Objects, and Page; then, click the “X” to close the dropdown. 

Next, add Guidelines to create your margins by clicking on the ruler (just above your workspace) and dragging the cursor from the ruler towards your page.  You’ll see a highlighted dotted line will appear and will continuously “snap” into certain placements while moving.  (The word “grid” will appear over the line at those snap points; since you chose to “snap to” the document grid, the guideline will snap at each quarter inch on the page.)  We want to set the guidelines to create a 1/2″ margin on the page, so let go of your guideline at the second snap on the page.  For the bottom, let go of the guideline two snaps from the bottom of the page.  Do the same for the left and right.  Add one more vertical guideline to the center of the page at 4 1/4″.

2. Then, insert your logo into the document.  From the File menu, choose “Import,” navigate to your logo, select the file, press “Import,” and click within your document to place the logo file. 

You’ll probably need to adjust the sizing of your logo.  If so, just click on a corner of the image and drag diagonally to increase or decrease the size as needed.  (If you drag other than diagonally, you’ll resize your logo disproportionately.)  

Next, move your logo so that the top of the image is aligned with your top guideline and the center of the image is aligned with the center guideline.

3. Next, you can add your footer.  At left, you’ll see an A, which is the text tool.  Click on that and create a square at the bottom of the page within the margins.

With the text box selected, set the font properties at the top of the page.  (I went with Calibri in size 11 Centered.)  At this point, zooming in on the text box is helpful.  Click the magnifying glass at left (which is your zoom tool) and click on the text box. 

In the footer, you can include your company name (or omit if you’d like since your company name is most likely already in your logo), your tag line (don’t waste any opportunities to educate people about your business), your web site address, email, address, phone number, etc. 

You can begin typing by simply clicking into your text box.  If you find you need to increase the size of your text box, click the top center handle and drag upwards as needed. 

I included our business name, tag line, and web address; I also added some dashes above the web address for visual separation. 

Next, zoom back out to the full page view by clicking on the magnifying glass and then selecting the “zoom to page” button at the top of the page.

Create another text box for your body copy.  Click the A text tool and draw your box in between your logo and footer and within your left and right margins.

Set the font properties.  (I went with Calibri Light in size 10). 

And you’re done!  You can now save your template future use.  Go to File > “Save;” then, navigate to your desired location, name your file something that will be clear to you in the future (like “letterhead”), and click “Save.”

Feel free to download and use our letterhead as a starting point.

If you have any questions about the process, just ask us below!

Other Resources

Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

A seemingly infinite number of resources exist on branding, and a similarly large number of small business resources exist. Once you narrow in your search on resources for small business branding (and of course eliminate those who want to offer you that service in exchange for a fee), a much, much smaller pool exists. Well, we scoured the Internet for some of the most valuable of these resources for fellow small business brand builders and compiled the best of the best for you below . . . .

– – –

Pexels – “The world’s first inclusive free stock photo & video library”

While you need to attribute credit to the photographer (as you can see in the example pictured above), you get access to a really impressive selection of *free* high-resolution stock photography. The images can be used on your web site, in advertisements, flyers, etc. Pexels is absolutely a must-have in your bookmarks.

– – –

GoDaddy Garage > Guide to Building a Brand – “Your brand is a high-speed emotional shortcut to the promise you make to the world.”

This blog is right up our alley! The articles discuss branding from the perspective of small businesses and even provide DIY tips in some areas. If you view the “Articles by Topic,” you’ll see they’re conveniently categorized into the following sections: “Find Your Niche,” “Dream It,” “Create It,” “Grow It,” and “Manage It.”

– – –

Google Fonts – “Making the web more beautiful, fast, and open through great typography.”

About a thousand *free* fonts are available, and they’re presented in a wonderfully searchable format (it is google after all).  You’re able to type in your sample text, select the size you want to preview, and choose your desired font characteristic(s), and your search results will populate accordingly. According to google, “You can use [the fonts] freely in your products & projects – print or digital, commercial or otherwise.”

– – –

Inkspace – “Draw Freely.”

We use the vector and graphics editor, CorelDraw.  While the suite is powerful and much cheaper than your standard graphics package, the cost is still pretty steep in the $500 ballpark.  I read a few articles on free vector-editing programs, found Inkscape (https://inkscape.org/) to be highly recommended, and gave it a go.  The free program seems to have all the features needed to get the job done.  (And, they make a number of tutorials available, including one on the basic tools:  https://inkscape.org/en/doc/tutorials/basic/tutorial-basic.html.)

– – –

AmEx Blog > Branding – “Hone your presence, online and off. Carve out a niche that customers and clients respond to, and help build a seamless brand, from the color of your logo to the personality of your social posts.”

AmEx has a vastly extensive blog for small businesses. While Branding is only one section within, the quantity of information could easily qualify as a blog of its own. While the section could benefit from some organization, dozens upon dozens of articles as well as videos offer valuable branding insights for small businesses.

– – –

Microsoft Word Templates

While Microsoft dedicates the prime real estate of this page to promoting their “premium” content, hundreds of free options are available. If you browse by category, you’ll see brochures, business cards, flyers, invoices, newsletters, and more. While you’ll certainly want to customize any template with your business’s brand elements, these “off-the-shelf” options often make a great starting point and save you a lot of time and effort.

– – –

The Noun Project – “Over 2 Million curated icons, created by a global community”

Ever wondered where to go for icons that could be used as part of your brand identity or marketing materials for a very minimal cost?  A number of options exist, but I like https://thenounproject.com/.  They have a large selection and charge nominal, one-time fees per icon.  (We obtained the hammer for our logo from this source for $2.99.)

– – –

DIY Marketers – “An Online Magazine for Overwhelmed Small Business Owners on a Budget”

The author of the blog shares her origin story:

Back in 2008 I got a call from MSNBC asking me to be a part of a pilot program they were doing for entrepreneurs. The idea was to bring a TV crew to “our offices” and see how we were able to create all this amazing content and to teach another small business owner how they can market themselves on a budget. I was sorry to tell them that the Ivana Taylor empire ran from my living room with my 3-person staff of Me, Myself and I. The first thing they asked me was how I was able to do so much on a budget — and that’s when DIYMarketers was born.

For me, this story exemplifies all we can accomplish in the world of DIY, investing money from our businesses in growth instead of hiring others to execute the tasks we can accomplish ourselves. And the blog itself doesn’t disappoint. While the design is a little overwhelming, you’ll find oodles of insight and “how-to’s.”

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 Easily Create Business Letterhead in Microsoft Word (Video Tutorial)

In an earlier post, we described how easy creating your own business letterhead can be in Microsoft Word.  Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so a video must be worth . . . a whole lot of words!

We really wanted to be able to show how easy some of our DIYs really are, and how better to do that than in live action?  (The task of creating letterhead is done in about two minutes.) 

So welcome to our first video . . . .  Hope you enjoy it!  If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you!  Just scroll down to the comments section at the bottom of this page.