Small Business Branding: 7 Steps to a Successful Brand

Small Business Branding: 7 Steps to a Successful Brand

Written by:
Orana Velarde

Aug 26, 2021
An illustration showcasing a small business brand in a computer screen.

The basis of a strong brand is a good brand story. For your small business to have a successful brand, you must create a solid strategy. Not being able to afford a branding and graphic design agency doesn’t mean you can’t set up the branding yourself.

In this guide, you’ll find a complete step-by-step to follow so you can easily create a strong brand identity. We’ll take you through the ideation of a great logo to setting up your brand guidelines so you and your team can create on-brand marketing materials together.

Let’s get started.

 

Table of Contents

 

Step #1: Write A Mission Statement

Every brand needs a solid, honest base to grow from. To build a brand that’s both visually engaging and emotionally connective, craft a mission statement that tells the story of your business and its purpose in the world. 

Use precise language that explains your why, the main idea of what problem you solve and for whom. Include a vision for how your impact will improve the community it serves.

In this post by Hubspot, you’ll find examples of inspirational mission statements from great brands.

You can also use a template like the one below to help you out. Your mission statement should be a combination of the vision, values and objectives you want to achieve.

A template to help businesses create their mission statement.
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step #2: Create a Board of Inspiration

When a brand is new, it can be difficult to visualize it. A good way of figuring that out is to look at inspiration from other brands and diverse outlets of designs.  Choose a few keywords from your mission statement.  Search the keywords in image search sites like Pinterest or Unsplash.

Save images that inspire you in some way into a private Pinterest Board or moodboard. Select photos that visualize your brand’s potential, like interior decor, product packaging, locations, editorial photography and more.

Add notes if you feel that it helps you visualize an initial feel of your brand.

A moodboard template available to customize in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step #3: Put Together Your Visual Brand Identity

A brand is more than just a logo and a set of colors; it’s the visual and emotional identity of your business. All the elements in a branding strategy work together to tell your company’s story and connect with your audience.

Branding for small businesses is essential for positioning, growth and social proof. As your local, social and digital presence grows, your branding is what people remember. They will associate your logo and visuals with the emotional cues you send via your marketing and the personal interactions they have with your product or services.

A small business needs to have a consistent brand to grow and be memorable. In this step, we walk you through each of the major brand elements so you can get started creating.

Logo

The first and  most crucial element in a visual branding strategy is the logo. A logo doesn’t need to be over-complicated, especially for a small business. In a basic sense, a logo has a graphic and a word mark with the business’s name. This two-element combo can be as basic as a line icon and a word underneath, or more impactful with a 3D custom icon and the name  in the perfect font.

For a logo to work well, it needs to be versatile and have a simple variation. For example, your logo can be horizontal on your website, but for social media you’ll need it to fit into a circle. 

Start designing just in black first, especially when choosing the typography.  When you feel confident about your logo design draft, then you can start adding colors. Remember not to make your logo too complicated — consider all the sizes you’ll need for  online use and the occasional black and white print.

Here’s a logo template you can use to get started with your own logo design.

An outdoor good logo template available to customize in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Brand Colors

The second most fundamental branding element on our list is your brand colors. Every brand needs a primary color palette, but a secondary color palette will make visual marketing design easier and more varied.

The primary color palette is the one that includes the colors in the logo and main visual assets. The secondary palette helps you create a richer visual catalog of both internal and promotional visual materials.

Slack's logo color palette.

 

Brand Fonts

Your third step when creating your small business branding strategy is to select your brand fonts. This combination of typefaces will be used on all materials with text, so make sure you love them and they represent your brand well. 

Your brand fonts are typically made up of a maximum of two fonts that are used in around three different styles (i.e., bold, uppercase).

Choose fonts that fit with your brand values and story. Also, select fonts that are easy to read and don’t distract from the message. 

If you choose a novelty font, make sure you’re picking it with a good reason. It needs to make sense to the viewer and it needs to be easy to read; if the font choice makes people confused, then you’ve chosen the wrong font.

It’s important to always use your brand fonts when creating visual material for your small business. This will help create brand strength and balance that will help with visual recognition and timelessness.

A font pair with Montserrat and Lato.

 

Step #4: Create a Brand Style Guide

Create an easy-to-follow brand style guide as an interactive presentation, infographic or printable document. Make sure that everyone that creates content for your brand has a copy of the brand style guide.

A brand style guide — or branding guidelines — is the ultimate guide for a team to always stay on brand with every single project for the business. From the website design to the lanyards with name tags for employees. 

Use a template like the one below to help you standardize your brand. Include your logo and its variations, colors (including hex codes), fonts, as well as patterns and other brand visuals.

A brand guidelines template available to customize in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Another way to make sure your branding is fully streamlined is to take advantage of an online brand management software like Visme. With our Brand Wizard and Brand Kit, you can easily add your logo, fonts and colors into our design tool, making it easy to ensure that all of your marketing materials are on brand every time.

 

Step #5: Create Your Branded Assets

Once your brand guidelines are complete, it's time to get started on your branded assets and marketing visuals.

With Visme, you can create branded headers for each of your social media profiles, plus a wide variety of social media marketing graphics. Additionally, you can create assets for content marketing as well as a set of branded communication materials like client-facing letterheads, email templates, invitations, certificates, plus internal material like communication plans, proposals, reports and training manuals.

You can either create all of these as a big project or as you need them. Either way, your Brand Kit will always be there to help you or your team members along the way.

Here's a list of branded assets you should consider having on hand for your businesses.

 

Social Media Graphics

Social and digital presence is essential for a small business to grow, and that’s why having social media graphics as part of a brand strategy is good practice. This helps your brand become more recognizable online while also streamlining your overall content creation process. Win-win, right?

To make these, all you need to do is create a set of social media graphics that you can reuse again and again. This is easy to do with a tool like Visme — you can store an unlimited amount of branded templates for you or anyone in your team right inside your Visme dashboard.

You can also use our social media image sizes guide to create perfect-sized graphics for each channel. 

Create any type of social media graphic with Visme!

  • Choose from dozens of professionally designed templates
  • Add and alter icons, colors, fonts, images and more
  • Customize anything to fit your brand image and content needs

Sign up. It's free.

 

Presentations

Presentations are useful for a variety of reasons, from creating a sales presentation to land more clients or an investor pitch to generate funding to creating an informational presentation that helps your audience learn something.

It's a good idea to have a branded presentation template ready for you to build out a presentation anytime you need one. Using one of our themes gives you hundreds of different slide designs and types to use, and you can save reusable slides to your Visme slide library to easily pull into any new presentation you create.

Our Simple presentation theme with over 300 different slide designs to choose from.
Customize this presentation theme and make it your own!Edit and Download

Business Cards

Business cards have always been an integral part of a branding strategy, but they’ve become less important in recent years. It’s so easy to connect with people online that business cards have taken a back seat. Nevertheless, they’re not yet obsolete, and having a set of business cards will always come in handy.

A business card template available to customize in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Letterheads

Another timeless branding standard is the letterhead. This is a design that goes on all your printed correspondence to make sure every piece of communication between your business and its clients is branded.

Just like the  letterhead, you can also create an email template. Each design has a different design process  but both solve the same problem, branded communication and correspondence.

A creative letterhead template available to customize in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Infographics

Infographics are perfect marketing tools for sharing within blog posts as well as social media content. There are many different types of infographics you can consider creating, each for sharing different information.

Statistical infographics showcase data and statistics in a variety of charts and data widgets. Informational infographics help you share text-based information in a more visual format. Comparison infographics are formatted in a way that allow you to compare two or more things.

There are even more options available, but these are great for getting you started.

A comparison infographic template available to customize in Visme.
Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Reports

Every team needs a branded report template to customize, whether they're putting together a monthly marketing report, a report on the website's analytics, a sales report or an expense report.

Put together a starting point for your team to duplicate and use for their own needs by starting with a template like the one below. Simply add in your own brand colors and fonts, drop your logo onto the front cover and it's ready to go.

A bright and colorful annual report design for yearly sales, ideal for fashion brands and creative agencies.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

Step #6: Find Your Brand Voice

The next step is to pinpoint your brand voice. This refers the personality that comes out in the content that you write and share on your sales pages, blog, social media posts and more.

When deciding on how to portray yourself as a brand, consider two things: (a) who your audience is, and (b) how you want your audience to perceive you.

If your audience is more of an older, more formal generation, you won't be able to get away with a more snarky brand voice like you could with a Millennial or Gen Z target audience. And on the other end, you don't want to have a really highbrow brand voice when targeting younger generations; instead, you want to be more friendly and relatable.

You also need to consider how you want your brand to be perceived by your target audience. If you want them to laugh, incorporate human and sass. If you want to be thought of as a trustworthy brand, you want to be more friendly and helpful.

To perfect your brand voice strategy, start by listing out three brand values.

Here at Visme, ours are:

  • Helping non-designers create beautiful designs for their businesses
  • Incredible customer service that is approachable and amenable to feedback
  • Building a learning center that educates our users on creating better designs

Next, you want to define your brand personality. If your brand was a person, how would they react? Use simple adjectives and decide what your brand is and what your brand is not.

At Visme, we are:

  • Accessible
  • Friendly
  • Helpful
  • Accommodating
  • Fun

We are NOT:

  • Elite
  • Exclusive
  • Bossy
  • Cocky
  • Sloppy

Last, pinpoint the kind of vocabulary you want to you.

Our is:

  • Simple
  • Relatable
  • Stay away from big, fancy words
  • Easy-to-understand

Once you have all of this in place, it should be easy to create content that stays in line with who you want your brand to be seen as. Plus, when you have guidelines like this in place, it makes it easy to pass content creation along to multiple people, while still keeping your brand style in check.

 

Step #7: Ensure Consistency Across All Platforms

The last step is to make sure everything remains consistent. Just because you've created your brand elements doesn't mean you can call it a day. Now you need to know how to properly deploy your brand so that it's consistent across the board.

Here are a few actionable steps to help you ensure consistency across all of your marketing channels.

  • Share your brand guidelines across your sales and marketing teams. By providing everyone who's creating public or client-facing visual and written content with the guidelines and expectations, you can ensure that everything they create will be using the same fonts, colors and voice.
  • Create branded templates for your team to customize. Having your marketing materials and other branded assets created ahead of time for your team to customize can make sure they're staying in line with your brand vision.
  • Limit your team's access to customization. With a tool like Visme, you can set permissions for each member of your team's workspace. This limits certain customization abilities, ensuring that fonts and colors aren't changed without admin permission, keeping your brand consistent.

Keeping your branding consistent is key to building brand equity and strength, so this last step is essential. Once you've implemented these practices, it's time to start creating content and putting that brand out there. Best of luck!

 

Now Over to You

Every visual aspect of your business should be on brand, no matter if it’s a startup or a homegrown business. Taking care of all the branding elements is easy with Visme and the integrated Brand Kit. Use the collaboration features to communicate with your team and create all the branded visuals you’ll ever need, together.

Get started creating a logo for your rock star business, and then move on to build a memorable brand you can be proud of.

Create Stunning Content!

Design visual brand experiences for your business whether you are a seasoned designer or a total novice.

Try Visme for free

    We’re stingy and don’t share emails with anyone.

    About the Author

    Orana is a multi-faceted creative. She is a content writer, artist, and designer. She travels the world with her family and is currently in Istanbul. Find out more about her work at oranavelarde.com

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Now Available: Become a Certified Presentation Expert for FreeTake the Course