Small Business Branding Checklist

Whether you’re a small startup, or an established corporate, your brand identity is critical in conveying the professionalism, the quality of service and the expectations of a potential client. The reality is those first impressions count.

Creating and maintaining your small business branding can be a very daunting endeavour. There are many creative and technical things to consider through the entire process. If you don’t dot your I’s and cross your T’s there can be many ramifications down the track – and we don’t just mean printing issues.

In the age of digital, your brand can be used in so many different ways. Everything from social media brand icons, website favicons, app logos, business cards and much more.

That being said, business branding encompasses a lot more than just the graphics you see on your screens. A brand results from a set of associations and perceptions in your consumer’s minds. Good branding will look to generate influence over these associations to help leave a positive and lasting impression. It’s important to aim for brand connections that represent trust, reliability and excitement.

Starting with a blank canvas can be a daunting prospect so we have put together an essential list of branding tips for you:

  1. Determine the level of branding required
  2. Create a customer persona
  3. Determine how you will use your branding
  4. Research brands within your industry niche and get inspiration
  5. Have a great name
  6. Design your logo and colour scheme
  7. Create a great slogan
  8. Get social
Branding - Blank Canvas - Avenue De Saxe

To get the most out of their branding, many small businesses collaborate with design agencies like Avenue De Saxe to guide them through the adventure and ensure they nail all the essential steps to create a cohesive, responsive and modern brand that will stand the test of time on the first go.

You can’t underestimate the power of branding. Take the Supreme brick as an example: 

Supreme Red Brick - The Power of Branding
Red Clay Brick - Business Branding Checklist

This brick first went on sale for $30.00. It has since sold out.  This example shows the power of branding as your average clay brick normally will set you back no more than $2.00. Supreme have established themselves as a premium brand and as a result, they can put their brand on just about anything. 

However, most small businesses aren’t looking to enter the streetwear scene but rather create an individual brand that is easily recognisable, pleasing to look at and has the ability to be responsive and stay modern for many years to come. Branding can help you stand out from your competitors, add value to your offer and engage with your customers

1) Determine the level of branding required

Before you deep dive into creating a new brand take time to determine if a full rebrand is required or if brand modernisation is an option. All businesses will need to review their branding at one point in time. Even the largest brands in the world will continuously update their brand image. Sometimes this is a very subtle change or sometimes it’s unrecognisable. In this case, brand modernisation is an option.

We recently performed a modern rebrand for the iconic Charlesworth Nuts. We worked with them to maintain their well-known logo but bring it into the digital age by vectorising it and updated their font & design to reflect the modern brand they have become.  

Charleswoth Nuts New Branding 2018 - Avenue De Saxe

2) Create a customer persona

Before you begin sketching out ideas or brainstorming with your employees you need to ask yourself who is your core demographic. This will help form the basis of everything else you do moving forward.

Things to consider include:

  • Age & gender of your consumers
  • Lifestyle & hobbies
  • Their challenge/pain points (why do they need your product)
  • Occupations & business background
  • Where can they be found online

Now you might be asking yourself how would I get this information? Well if you already have a website or social channels you can access your analytics to gain a wealth of knowledge there.  Or if you are a completely new brand then use these questions to plan out what you envision your target demographic to be based on your unique selling point.

To find out their pain points conduct some social listening. Checking your consumer’s comments online, review hashtags associated with your brand, read some forum posts and reviews about your brand.

This step helps allow you to have a clearer idea of where your branding will sit in terms of your competitors and may help open up the floor to new ideas to incorporate in your logo design and branding.

3) Determine how you will use your branding

Now you’ve figured out who your target audience is and you think you’re ready to start designing it’s important to take one more step back and determine where you will be using your logo & branding.

Branding is more than just your logo, however, logos and branded assets are the most common way a business is identified and recognised by their customers. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you keep this in mind in terms of scalability and mediums.

In the digital age, logos and digital assets need to be responsive. Your logo should have the ability to scale down to a favicon size or be scaled up on a billboard. This requires having a vector based image. Vector graphics are indispensable when it comes to designing logos, icons, and emblems. Vector images can perfectly adapt to the resolution of your screen or printing device to ensure the highest quality of the end product.

At Avenue De Saxe our services allow us to create branding elements for signage, magazines, social media, websites and much more. If this is something you need assistance with start by checking out our previous branding case studies and get in touch to get started

4) Research brands within your industry niche and get inspiration

The goal here isn’t to copy your competitors but rather get an idea of the industry standard is so you can go above and beyond the norm. This step can act as a brainstorming session and may help you work out what appeals to you and what you want to avoid.

Once you have a clear and strong idea of what you want to see established you can then begin conceptualising ideas that felt unique, modern and stayed true to your initial brief in your research.

5) Have a great name

Now if you’re coming up with a completely new brand it’s important to make sure your name is not only catchy but that it is not taken. Remember in the digital age it’s important to have a name translates across all platforms. A great name can create buzz and position you as a real innovator in your sector. It’s important to also consider the following:

  • How will your name look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media (remember: Twitter & Google SERPS limit character count, so try not to pick a name that’s too long).
  • What emotions does it evoke? – This is very important. Is your business family friendly or an established corporate? Does it reflect your business vision and culture? And does it appeal to your customer persona?
  • Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search on Name Check will help you see if all your essential platforms are available. If they are taken – then keep brainstorming.

6) Design your logo and colour scheme

Now the research is done & you know your brand name isn’t taken it’s time to start putting all the pieces together. These assets will appear on everything that relates to your business. It will become your new identity and be the visual trigger that represents your business to your consumers.

Be willing to invest your time in creating something unique. While you are designing this new brand make sure you outline your branding guidelines for any future employees and to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to distributing this new look.

A strong brand style guide will include some of the following things:

  • Logo size and placement
  • Colour palette
  • Typography and fonts
  • Iconography
  • Photography styles
  • Web elements

If you’re interested in a brand style guide Avenue De Saxe can help. We can work with you to develop the idea and take the difficulty out of the technical. We have previously created branding packs for many clients. View our Époque branding case study to see an example of our process. 

7) Create a great slogan 

An extra step you can take to help elevate your new branding is to create an advertising slogan. This gives your consumers an elevator pitch of what your business is all about.

Just think of:

Apple – “Think Different”
Nike has “Just Do It.”
Kit Kat – “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”
Think Different - Apple Branding
Just Do It Branding Slogan

8) Get Social

Now you have the tone of voice, your target demographic and a cohesive brand and logo – it’s time to share it around online. Make sure once you’ve settled on a font pack and colour palette – it’s time to stick to it!  You can always reinvent the wheel from time to time – but ensure you are still recognisable and consistent to keep pleasing your audience.

Don’t forget to optimise your logo, profile, headers and in-feed images on your social media platforms. You wouldn’t want to create an amazing logo and then have half of it cut off in a social post. Sprout Social has a comprehensive Guide to Social Media Image Sizes which is the perfect starting place.

If you enlist Avenue De Saxe to complete your small business branding checklist we can work with you on all the steps mentioned in this post and in the end provide you with a  logo pack which includes all file formats: standard jpgs, pngs with transparent background for web usage, and eps vector formats which can be scaled and used for print needs.

As a one-stop design agency, we explore the idea of visual identity and strategy from start to finish. We love seeing a brand come to life as it moves through each element and helps your brand find it’s visual solution.

At Avenue De Saxe we design great brands, create great websites and produce digital content.

If you need business branding, logo design or brand modernisation get in touch today or find us on Twitter &  Instagram