When was the last time you googled yourself?

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

When was the last time you googled yourself (or rather, your business)?

(If the answer is today, that’s either an extraordinary coincidence, or you might actually do this exercise too often. This article isn’t for you.) More likely, you’re in the majority and don’t perform this quick task often enough.

You need to know where you stand in the world, according to google, because that is how your prospective customers will try to get to know you.

I recommend three regular searches: your name (because to some degree, you are your business); your business name, and your business name followed by the word ‘reviews’.

This way, you see what the world sees, and you can proactively address issues as they arise (keyword being when not if).

A more streamlined approach to this process involves setting up a few alerts. You will also want to register your business on a few review web sites if you’re not already on them. I’ll discuss these topics one by one in the near future. Till then!

Send Your Valued Customers a Happy New Year Message

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Nothing beats a nice card sent through the mail with a short and personal hand-written note. If you have the time for that, wonderful. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re short on time, and the idea of getting important things accomplished in a 10-minute window is very appealing to you.

On the other hand, we are all inundated with companies sending us holiday greetings along with pleas for sales of some sort. I would tread carefully so as not to join this unwelcome category. However, a text or e-mail with a nice graphic and a short, personal message can go a long way. . . . For example:

Thank you for another year of reading our blog. We are grateful for you and wish you the happiest of new years. From Carole and Bob at Brand Building for Small Business

(Feel free to use our graphic if you would like!)

Always Have a Back-up on Hand

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

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.

I recently wrote a piece about making your brand a consistent statement throughout your business by reviewing all the physical documents your customers see, your advertising, your web presence, and signage to make sure each piece fits your brand — logo, company colors, tag line, etc. Doing this audit from time to time and addressing issues by revising, reprinting, and/or repackaging is the ideal way to go. And yet, sometimes, a last-minute stamp right before a piece goes out the door is the best we can possibly do. In those instances, it’s good to be prepared.

This week’s 10-minute branding recommendation is to buy your business a logo stamp for those eventualities in which you have no other way to make your brand known. Maybe you run out of a certain size box and need a short-term fix until you get a new batch. Maybe you need to use an envelope size that you’ve never needed to use before and therefore don’t have anything pre-printed. Maybe you have a print job go wrong. Thankfully, a good stamp goes a long way and will still look professional in such instances.

If you don’t already have one, here are a couple options for you from Zazzle:

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

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Basic SEO: Meta Keywords

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

Before you get started with meta tags, I would recommend you make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index). Then, review your web pages’ meta titles (read that story here) and descriptions (read that story here).

Our current installment in our SEO meta series is . . .

META KEYWORDS

This component is the easiest one yet. You just want to make sure you don’t use this particular tag.

In old-school web design, meta keywords were important in communicating the content of your web site to browsers. However, they were abused by developers, who often stacked desired keywords that weren’t even present in their content. As a result, google now ignores the tag entirely for standard searches, and bing actually uses the tag as a signal for spam. If you have a long laundry list of keywords or your keywords aren’t relevant to your content, you could be getting an SEO ding. As a result, we recommend reviewing your keywords to make sure they don’t raise any red flags. Or, you can err on the safe side and simply remove them altogether.

Below is an example of what keywords might look like in your code:

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”branding, small business, entrepreneurs, DIY, how tos, quick, easy, 10 minute branding”>
</head>

You can delete the entire bracketed component for the meta name “keywords.”

Once removed, the header above would look like this:

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

Easy peasy!

QUESTION?

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Protect Your Brand: Check for Copyright Infringement

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

If you create something of value, someone, at some point, is going to try to steal it from you.

Image by Freepik

You’ll most likely encounter such a culprit even if you don’t go looking. However, if you stay vigilant and catch copyright infringement quickly, you don’t risk losing too much ground. I recommend performing this check once per month. (If you never see any copycats, you can extend the task to once every three or six months.)

SEARCH FOR TEXT

Use a search engine to search for your company name, company slogan, product name, product slogan, etc. I usually go about five pages deep. If you don’t see any infringement by that point, chances are you’re good.

SEARCH FOR YOUR GRAPHICS

Using google’s reverse image search, I would search for the portion of your logos (company and products) without the text, so you’re searching for any graphical components individually. To do so . . .

1. Go to google.com and click the camera icon at the far right of the search box.

2. Click the ‘upload a file’ link and follow the prompts to select your image.

3. Google may automatically crop the searchable area of your image as was done for mine below. If so, you can simply drag the corners of the outline outward to extend the highlighted area of the picture.

4. Scan the “visual matches” for any copycats.

ISSUES

If you find any copycats, bookmark the web site(s) containing the infringement as you go. If you have a lawyer, forward your results. If not, stay tuned. We’ll elaborate on ‘next steps’ in a future post.

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Basic SEO: Review Your Web Pages’ Descriptions

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index) and put aside this post for now.

A great second step is to review your web pages’ titles. (Read that story here.)

Next up . . .

META DESCRIPTIONS

The web page description is another component of “meta tags” that can communicate important information about the page to your visitors. 

If you’ve done a good job writing your “meta description,” that content will be displayed when your page is listed in a search engine’s results underneath the title.  For example . . .

This “snippet” (as google refers to this text) can determine whether a visitor clicks through to your page. However, google will automatically generate a snippet from your page’s content and virtually ignore your description if it doesn’t meet google’s criteria, bringing us to . . .

BEST PRACTICES FOR “SNIPPETS,” ACCORDING TO GOOGLE

  • Create a unique description for each page of your web site.
  • Include important information from your page, even if not in sentence format.
  • Some do’s and don’t of quality descriptions:
    • Don’t just list keywords; a home page should explain what your business does and include details (such as hours and location).
    • If the page is selling a product or service, do provide specific information.
    • Do summarize the content of the page.
    • Don’t be too short or generalize.
  • Use the meta description tag (see below).
An Example of the Meta Description Tag in Action in Your HTML:
 
<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

OPTIMAL DESCRIPTION LENGTH

While all of google’s best practices may suggest a weighty description, google will actually only display 155-160 characters on search results. Therefore, you have the lofty goal of incorporating a wealth of specific information in as few words as possible.

ONLY 10 MINUTES A DAY

You might be questioning this approach at this point, thinking, I already spent 10 minutes just reading this article!  If so, you’re done with your 10-minute branding exercise for the day!  Come back tomorrow prepared to get started on executing the task.  Once you reach 10 minutes, save your work and come back the next day!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Make Your Brand a Consistent Statement Throughout Your Business

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

So how do you make your brand a consistent statement throughout your business . . . in 10 minutes a day no less?!

The endeavor sounds so much harder and more intimidating than the actuality.

ENSURING BRAND CONSISTENCY: THE PROCESS

Day 1: Collect all the physical documents that your customers see.

(Remember that any task taking more than 10 minutes gets paused to continue the next day.)

Day 2: Make sure each collected piece fits your brand — logo, company colors, tag line, etc. Put any off-brand item aside.

Day 3: Repeat the process for all current advertising.

Day 4: Go through your website and any other online materials. You can bookmark any item needing to be addressed.

Day 5: Repeat the process for any signage, noting items in need of change.

Day 6: Fix identified issues. One piece per day is probably a reasonable goal, though more complicated items may need to be spread across multiple days.

And then you’re done! The process may takes weeks to complete, but if you approach it in a organized manner and commit to 10 minutes per day (no more or no less), your brand will be consistent in no time . . . without having to take away from the business of actually running your business!

GOING FORWARD

Having this process fresh in your mind will help you be attentive to branding your materials in the future. Still, you may want to put a reminder in your calendar for one or two years ahead (whichever seems more reasonable based on the quantity of materials you have) to repeat this process.

HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Basic SEO: Review Your Web Pages’ Titles

Welcome to our first official installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index) and then save this post for tomorrow.

Once you’ve taken care of that quick task, you’re ready to move forward!

META TITLES

The web page title is part of a collection of “meta tags” that communicate important information about the page to web browsers as well as your visitors. 

The “meta title” is the title of each of your web pages that gets displayed when your page is listed in a search engine’s results.  For example . . .

The title is one factor that determines whether your web page gets displayed in someone’s search results, so you want to give all of your pages their best chance at seeing the light of day.

BEST PRACTICES ACCORDING TO GOOGLE

You may already have a title on each of your web pages.  If so, that’s a great start.  Then, you need only review them to be sure they’re optimal.  So whether you’re drafting your titles from scratch or reviewing existing ones, you’ll want to review Google’s “Best Practices” for meta titles:

  • Accurately describe the page’s content.
  • Create a unique title for each page.
  • Be brief but descriptive.
  • Use the title tag (see below).
An Example of the Meta Title Tag in Action in Your HTML:
 
<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

ONLY 10 MINUTES A DAY

You might be questioning this approach at this point, thinking, I already spent 10 minutes just reading this article!  If so, you’re done with your 10-minute branding exercise for the day!  Come back tomorrow prepared to get started on executing the task.  Once you reach 10 minutes, save your work and come back the next day!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

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.