Have you ever felt sheepish as you handed someone your business card? Or made excuses for your website and said, “it’s a work in progress!” when it’s been that way for months?
When your visual branding isn’t quite right, you intuitively feel it – but figuring out what is wrong and how to fix it is completely daunting.
Hold up! What’s visual branding?
Visual branding isn’t just “making things look pretty.” It is everything visual about your business. It’s your logo and your business cards, but also the images you share on Instagram and the way you merchandise your store and the whole look of your website and the way you package items to ship and how you set up your booth at gift shows.
Why you don’t love your branding
You picked something you like and it doesn’t match your business.
Your favourite colour is yellow and you love the hand-painted fonts that you’ve been seeing around lately, so you put the two together and got a logo! But…you didn’t account for the business you actually have. If you create your branding based on what looks good on letterhead, you’re not going to get a satisfying result.
You don’t know how to expand on it.
So far your visual branding just means putting your logo on stuff. Every two weeks you come up with a different colour scheme and you love playing with the free fonts you discover online.
It already looks dated/hasn’t grown with your business.
Sometimes a business change is obvious – like changing the name. Then you know you need a new logo. But what about when your name has stuck but the work you do changes? When “Jane Smith Ceramics” changes from making whimsically painted dishes to upscale gold-rimmed bowls? If your logo was a good fit before, chances are it no longer captures the whole of what you do, and so it’s unlikely your customers (the people who will buy your new pieces) are going to get curious.
Or maybe you picked a font that seemed so cool at the time, but then got really trendy and now it looks like the logo equivalent of a high school graduation photo from the ‘80s.
What to do about it
Make sure your logo/branding fits your business not you.
When you are a small business owner – and especially a maker – it is hard to see your business as a separate entity. You’re the one elbow deep in samples or taking on thousands of dollars of personal debt to make your business happen. Maybe your business even shares your name!
But here’s the thing: you liking your logo doesn’t make you money. Your customers coming over to your booth because they saw your sign? That makes you money. (Tweet this!)
Of course I hope you like your branding, but it’s more important that the branding suits your business and attracts your customers – and that might be something different from what you think is the most pretty.
Pick fonts and colours – and stick with them.
Take a few minutes to assess what fonts and colours you’ve been using with your brand. Pick two fonts and three colours. Only use these. The first step to good branding is consistency. Even if your branding isn’t quite right, you can still build awareness by making intentional choices that customers learn to recognize.
When in doubt, go simple.
If you are going the DIY or inexpensive route, choose a simple logo – you know, one that doesn’t look wildly cool or elaborate. The more of a statement something makes, the more likely it is to age badly (I refer back to the ‘80s grad photos).
Of course you want to make a statement about your business, but unless you’re hiring a pro to do your branding, keep it simple. Don’t try to do any tricks. A simple “just a font” logo is fine for now.
What it means for your business
Getting visual branding just right takes time and hard work – I mean, it’s EVERYTHING VISUAL about your business. EVERYTHING! But when people you’ve never met can “get” your business at a glance, a world of possibilities opens up for you.
Next week I’ll dive into how your business can be ready to take advantage of “lucky” opportunities. Sign up for my email list to make sure you don’t miss it!