January 3, 2020January 6, 2020 // Entrepreneur Your Brand is Your Superpower. 2020 has arrived. It’s likely (now more than ever) that whether you’re a lean mean, start-up or you’ve been in business for decades — your market may be getting a little crowded. In our “limited attention span” world, you have 15 seconds or less, to capture someone’s attention. For reference: 15 seconds is barely enough time to scroll down a homepage or grab a snack from the fridge. However, if your business has a well designed brand, 15 seconds could be just enough. Does your business have a logo that can stand in for your sales pitch? Or a color palette that tells someone you’re in Fintech? While you can’t take the YOU out of your business (you’ll still need that sales pitch), you can bake more of YOU in. Branding your business can be a little scary. You may not even know why you should… Here are 5 question-and-answer key points to get you started: Does my business need branding? Short answer… YES. Long answer… No matter how large or small your business may be, you need something that identifies your company and delivers a clear message to customers, partnerships and competitors alike. Branding helps define how people perceive your business. It provides a unified vision for your company and then helps create the tools and guidelines to explain your values, beliefs and offerings to the world. Branding includes your logo, visual identity and brand collateral– these elements guide your business voice, visuals, messaging and beyond. Your visual identity should show that you know your audience, and be based on elements that will attract the right customers. I have a logo, is that enough? Short answer… Probably Not. Long answer… If you’ve ever logged on to a social media platform you have probably seen that everyone has a logo. Sure a logo can tell your audience your name but if you had an entire brand built out, you could ensure that your audience learns more, and the right version of “more.” A logo can only take you so far. You can plaster your logo all over but if you don’t have anything else to go with it, customers may still miss your message. Branding helps create sales and revenue for your business. Having a brand to market allows you to state who you are, what you do and let potential clients get to know you. Your brand helps you connect with your customer. How does a professional brand really help me? Short answer… You look more professional. Long answer… A professional brand shows that you value your business. You’ve taken the time to establish your vision, you’ve identified who your company is and are using that research to showcase who you are and connect with those you wish. Keeping your brand consistent allows you to build trust. People are more likely to do business with a company that has a polished and professional brand. Show that you believe in your business and others will too. Good branding cultivates customer loyalty, repeat business and opportunities for referrals. Branding supports advertising. Advertising strategies will directly reflect your brand and its desired portrayal. Advertising and marketing your business is the key to growth and your brand is ultimately the foundation built to support that growth. Does branding affect my website? Short answer… ABSOLUTELY! Long answer… Your website should be an accurate reflection of your company’s brand. 81% of customers conduct online research before making a major purchase or decision. Your company’s online presence is basically the “face” of your business these days. More often than not, online is the first touch point for a prospective customer. Properly communicating your values and services is key. Since you’ve already established who you are, using visuals from you brand can help you explain and continue to connect to your audience. Staying in-line with your brand through multiple channels, such as your website and social media will help create a consistent impression in your customers’ mind and they will always remember you. How do I create a better brand? Short answer… Hire a professional designer. Long answer… Do your research and dig deep into your business. You can do a lot of the background work upfront to help the designer and save some time. You and a professional designer can build out the best version of yourself. Know your audience. Know what you want to offer to them and how. Decide where and how to represent your business. Where will your customers find you… in person, online, both? Focus on creating a brand that works for your customers. If you are an e-commerce shop, your brand and identity should focus on digital solutions. If you are a brick-and-mortar shop, maybe a well-branded sign would be more beneficial. Keep an eye on your brand. If something has changed about your audience, don’t be afraid to adapt. A good brand should be dynamic. Most designers will be happy to offer options for both a full-rebrand or a light facelift. Do what’s best for you, your business and most importantly, your customers! Now that you know the basics it’s time to ask yourself – Is your branding working for your company? Is it communicating the right messages and positioning your business for success? If not, don’t forget nothing changes if nothing changes. By: Amy Maxwell // Creative Director at Maxwell Design LLC Having spent over a decade working as an art director, branding designer, and multidisciplinary creative for companies of all sizes, Amy now uses her experience and skills to help brands shine by crafting design that brings YOUR story to life. Connect with Amy to learn more about the importance of properly branding your business. Find her and her work online at https://maxwelldesign.guru/ If you are launching a company or know someone who is, The Council for Entrepreneurial Development can help. Get in touch with us to learn more about our support and the ecosystem here in the Triangle that is rich with resources for entrepreneurs that are pursuing their dreams.