brand-your-business

Take Charge of Your Company’s Branding

As a frugal entrepreneur, you’re looking to use your money wisely without compromising quality.  What’s interesting is, one of the best ways to get the most quality is by taking charge of your company’s branding.

This means getting out in front and being in charge of the design of your company’s logo, any signage for a physical location, and lettering for brochures, mailings, etc.

All too often, small businesses suffer from slipshod branding: Big Bud’s Motorcycles has business cards that say “Big Bud’s Bikes,” with giant purple lettering on the store, but sleek black text on brochures.  Sometimes they sell “The finest in street bikes” and sometimes it’s “bikes at the nice price.”  Is it high-end or discount?

Sometimes the reason for inconsistencies is that the sign company doesn’t have the same styles and capabilities as the business card company, etc.  Maybe you can’t create text on a file you e-mail to them—maybe they create all graphics themselves.

Thus, the key is to make your own designs.  It’s actually possible now, via online printing, to create the various types of communication you’ll need.  This goes beyond the smaller stuff like brochures, coupons, and simple flyers, to the sign on your business’s front wall, POP displays and signages, boards for product lists, banners, vinyl signs for doors, on and on.

You send in the information and the company prints out and ships or delivers the finished product.

Be the Branding Guide

Now, you may be saying that you’re not so good at graphic design, etc.  But let’s set that aside for a minute. As we hinted at above, there’s an important function you can play before you create anything, one that may guide your branding for years.  That is, creating a style guide for your branding.

This means getting a logo set up, however you do it, deciding on it, sticking to it, and using it on everything.  It also means choosing the font for all lettering and other things, such as, do you use a little hubcap at the bottom of all pages of your motorcycle brochures, etc?  Do all your communications have a red frame around the outside?  This level of specificity will do wonders when it comes to allowing your customers to really get to know your brand.  People like what is familiar.

Build it Yourself

Designing a logo can be done with a variety of moderately-priced software, such as Adobe Photoshop, CorelDraw, etc.  You can give it a shot, and if need be, go on the search for a relative, friend, etc. who can design something gratis or at a low rate.

For any photos that you’ll be integrating into your logo or the main component of a permanent design, you may contact a pro photographer or pay to license something from the web.  It’s not hard to find good material—it’s just a matter of getting out in front of the process, making a clear decision, showing your design around to test it out, and feeling good about what you settle on.

Graphic Designer

Now, if you’re in the camp that says, “wait a minute, cowboy, I’m not graphic designer,” that’s a perfectly good viewpoint, too.  You can absolutely hire a graphic designer to get together some key images and styles that you’ll use.  It’s not as frugal, but it’s a great investment.

If you go the route of a graphic design firm or any professional designer, you figure to get the highest quality, with a person who knows the ropes of meeting with clients, bouncing ideas off you, going from draft to draft.  If you’re a bit nervous about the whole process, this may be the way to go.

A freelance graphic designer is not hired by any firm, but probably has a bachelor’s in graphic design, with a portfolio you can (and absolutely must) look at, and their rates will be much lower than those of design firms.  Many sites match freelancers with people in need of work, with Designers.designcrowd.com being just one example, one that specializes in graphic design.

Online Printing

Once you have a major image, a logo, a general feel and style, and some lettering–and you’ve put it all together–you are ready to create the final product.  Whether it’s a storefront sign, a banner, door hangers,sticker printing etc., one way to go is with onlineprinters.co.uk.  This helps you control your brand because these companies do all the work, meaning that you don’t use a sign maker for your sign, a printer for business cards, another service for stickers or labels, etc.

In the end, the biggest takeaway here is that you really need to exercise serious control over your branding.  Even if it’s not your fingers on the mouse, designing a logo with design software, you should at least develop a vision that you closely communicate to some kind of designer.  Then, keep things consistent and find the most efficient way of producing your documents!

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