Your brand is at the center of your business. Regardless of what you do or who you help, it’s necessary to have solid branding to gain the recognition every company strives for. Sometimes, laying out your brand plan can be difficult and confusing. That’s where we come in. Whether you’re a new business owner or you have been working for years, it’s never a bad idea to review your brand. Use this guide to help you establish your core brand elements. And don’t be afraid to call us if you get stuck.
6 Important Brand Elements You Need to Establish Immediately
Choosing a name for your business is the first and, arguably, most important decision in your branding journey. Your name defines your business and should last, so make sure it’s a fit before you give it final approval. Very rarely does a legitimate circumstance for changing a business name come along. BUT, if you know your business name isn’t great, don’t be afraid to re-brand. It’s better to fix it now than later. Here are some additional tips for choosing a business name.
- Don’t Make Up Words: Making up words or adopting a new spellings might hurt your business in the long run. For example, and please don’t do this, spelling “Insurance” like “Ensurance” will make it difficult for people to find your business online. It is also hard to understand what your business is about.
- Don’t Use Ultra Plain Words: There are countless agencies that follow this naming pattern: (Principal Name) Insurance. While this may be an easy fix, do you really want to fade into the sea of John Smith Insurances? No! Get a little creative so you stand out.
- Keep it Relevant: While we want you to be original, don’t choose a business name so out there that no one will understand what you do. Some good words to include might be: health, life, insurance, agents, senior. Don’t just mash all these words together, though. Throw in your own personal style.
Establishing your business values helps your marketing efforts. Will you focus on educating your clients? Maybe you will emphasize your experience. A simple way to establish your values is think about your business’ ultimate goal. If it is to help people, base your values on that. If your strive to grow, make that a core value. For example, the University of Missouri, a large school in Columbia (home of SMS headquarters), has four core values. Respect, Responsibility, Excellence, and Discovery are at the center of Mizzou’s activities. To narrow down your values, try these suggestions.
- Keep the List Short: A long list of values, while each may be important, will spread your message too thin. Try staying around 3-5 core values. If you end up with too many, try combining some or eliminating the ones that are too specific.
- Be Abstract: Notice that Mizzou’s values are fairly broad. This works because many of their other initiative fit under at least one of the ‘umbrella” values. For example, one of Senior Market Specialists’ values is Superior Training. This leaves the door wide open regarding what, how, and who we educate.
- Make Them Genuine: If you think up values just for the sake of having them, your clients will see right through you. If you honestly believe in and follow your values, your business relationships will be much stronger.
3. Language Style
Along with your name and business values, it’s important to establish a consistent style of language. This is showcased on your website, social media, emails, and other written material. The way you write should mirror how you talk. If you are more formal than casual in conversations, adopt a sophisticated language style. If you are generally excited or sassy, lean toward words and phrasing that align with your mannerisms. While this decisions is largely based on your preferences, keep a few things in mind.
- Think of Others: Remember that other people have to read what you write. Be true to yourself, yes, but make sure your writing is easy to read and understand. Being overzealous or too formal with your vocabulary may leave your clients and prospects confused. Use mostly well-known words and throw in your style with grammar, punctuation, and the occasional flourish.
- Stay Consistent: Once you settle on a language style, don’t stray from it too often. Of course, you will have some pieces that are more care-free and some that are more formal. The idea is to keep everything within an overarching theme, though.
- Consider Your Platform: While consistency is key, be aware of which platform you are using. If you post an update on social media, it’s expected to be less formal than an email. Oppositely, a press release tends to be more formal than each of the latter.
Logos aren’t just for corporations. No matter how small (or big) your business is, you should have a logo! Why? It is a graphic representation of your company. A logo is an extension of your brand that has the power to strengthen recognition and your presence in the community. Bottom line: If you don’t have a logo, get one! If you do, review it. Make sure it isn’t outdated or, well, ugly. Here are 10 Things You Need to Know to Design an Awesome Logo.
Font choice is just as important as your logo. Your fonts reflect your business and language style, so they should be chosen carefully. You will want a primary font and 2 to 3 secondary fonts. Your primary font is what you will use in the majority of your written material (handouts, advertisements, signs in your office, etc.) Your secondary fonts are meant to complement your primary font. Use these to make important information stand out or to break up the monotony of using one font. Choose a serif and sans serif font for your secondary line up. Serif fonts feature the little feet and wings on each letter whereas sans serif fonts do not. Here are a few points to consider when choosing official fonts for your business.
- Don’t get Crazy: While you want your font choice to remind clients of your business style, don’t go overly formal, casual, or cute. It is possible to find professional-looking fonts that ere on the side of modern, simplistic, formal, or exciting.
- Remember to Modify: Many fonts have the ability to be bold, underlined, and italicized. Use these features to accentuate text rather than switching between 4 fonts in one document.
6. Image Style
If you use pictures in your material regularly, which you should, make sure you have a general theme. This doesn’t mean using the same three photos over and over. Instead, choose whether or not you want people in your images. Decide what kind of lighting your photos will have. Of course, you will stray from the path every so often, but there is a huge difference between carefully thought-out photography, and computer-generated stock photos.
- Don’t Pay for Pictures: There are a variety of royalty-free photo sites that you can use at no charge. You can also take your own photos. Today, a smartphone generally has a good enough camera when used in the correct lighting.
- Be Bold: Don’t be afraid to get creative with photo composition and color. If you want your material to stand out, bold images are a fantastic place to start.