How To Brand Your Business On A Bootstrap Budget

Better Business

Do you have your online presence on hold because you don’t have a logo or brand for your business? Well, I’m here to tell you don’t let that stop you from doing business online.

I remember when I started everyone said you needed two things to brand your business: a business name, and a logo so that people could identify you.

So I researched and researched all about business branding. And, I became so focused on the logo that I did not realize my business brand was more than just that. What I missed what that you needed to take into account your ideal client. But as a new business, many of you are figuring that out as you go. So while your company name may not change your brand will indeed evolve.

Now I’m not telling you to buy an on the cheap logo that has no thought behind it. I’m telling you to put the crucial pieces in play so you can start the evolution. You’re trying to attract the ideal person you want to do business with but stay true to who you are.

So my first brand looked like this, corporate and sterile so that I could attract “high-end” clients for my business.

red white and black color pallette

But corporate was not me or who I wanted to be. I wanted to help solo entrepreneurs who've left the business world and work for themselves. Those colors did not reflect that or that I’m am an earthy person who loves outdoors and freedom. And adventure. So you can already see that this brand was not well thought out. But I went ahead and paid for a logo and used the logo that didn't fit with who I was a business.

I should have concentrated on my people, and my values and I would have know that blue was my color. The color blue creates calmness (for my stressed clients) and shows creativity. It symbolizes trust, strength, and wisdom. Me to a tee and what I wanted my clients to feel about my business. Plus, blue hates confrontation and likes to do things its way. Again part of my values.

Your brand is less about your logo and more about your message. The visuals are important, but the message is the key to making it work.

How do you know where to begin when you're not a designer and on a limited budget. Here are a few places to start.

1. Start With Your Why

As busy business owners, we focus on the what and the how instead of considering why we are doing this thing called entrepreneurship.

When you brand your business, it starts with digging into the “why” behind why. It’s the core value of your business, and yes it’s important.

Some new business owners try to fit into another's mold because those businesses (or people) are the hot ticket for now. Pulling off being a hard ass using cuss words won’t work if the core of your business is to showcase your gentle nature.

And while your business will continue to evolve and change over time, your core values will remain the same because they are who you are.

Action: Make a list of your core values, and be honest about them.

2. Sum Up Your Mission In One Sentence

You may have heard the term unique value proposition. Your UVP defines how you will serve your clients using what makes you different. It’s the cornerstone of your brand story. It’s the one simple sentence you use to describe what you do to any person you meet.

It’s likely you won’t hit it out of the park on your first try, and that’s okay because it will grow and evolve with you. It’s important to find something simple that people resonate. So experiment on how people react to what you’ve chosen.

Action: Create your UVP statement and practice by sharing in your Facebook groups.

3. A Simple Typographic Logo will Do

I’ve seen some pretty bad logos over my years as a web designer. We try to cram everything into our logo including a rainbow of colors and fonts.

Don’t let not having a fancy expensive branded logo stop you from having a branded presence. Over time your name may change, your vibe may change, so it’s okay to start simple and get yourself out there.

When you brand your business, start with the key pieces by choosing a single font that’s easy to read when printed tiny. The right font is important too for your website since we now read on devices of all sizes. Your primary fonts will need to carry over to your site, also to you printed materials.

Look at these popular typography logos:

typography based logos

Action: research other companies, competition, and colleagues with simple text logos

4. Choose Your Color Palette

Colors affect human emotion and behavior including purchasing decisions, so you need to pick colors to craft a good vibe for your visitors.

You should also keep your color palette simple by choosing one dominant and one secondary color. The dominant flow will be the foundation for your logo and your visual brand. Use your dominant color for heading on your site because it adds a tad more visual interest.

The secondary color, saved for accents, should be used for links, button, and other clickable action elements. One common problem I see is that people use their primary color for heading and buttons or links. Using the same color for everything can confuse your visitor.

Your color palette will allow you to pick a range of colors to use, allowing your visitors to see different information quickly.

You should also choose a few neutral colors such as black, gray, beige and white. Neutral colors enable you to create contrast in different areas that will guide attention to where you want it.

 

Action: Choose your dominant color and create a palette for your visual brand.

5. Bringing It All Together

Once you have all the pieces in play, it's time to bring them together in a document often referred to as a style guide. The will be the cornerstone when you brand your business to keep things consistent across the board.

Your style guide contains your logo, colors palette, and typography so that you can quickly reference to make your visual brand cohesive. Your style guide will also come in handy when you are ready to create your website, your social visuals and the elements to promote your business.

You can create your guide in a word document or use an app like Canva. The guide only needs to be available for reference when needed.

Action: Create your style guide and put it where you can have easy access and quickly share.

Now that you have your brand together it’s time to put it to use. Begin by creating a simple business card that you can share at networking events. Customize your templates like proposals, contracts, invoices and such. Use your colors to choose images, so they match with your visual brand.

And of course, use your new brand style to help when creating your new website. Keep it all consistent, so you become easy to recognize visually.

Are you having trouble with your brand? Let’s talk about fixing that.

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