[box type=”note” border=”full” icon=”none”]This guest post is brought to you by  Pamela Wilson who teaches small businesses to grow using great design and marketing at Big Brand System. Brainstorm ideas, solve problems and achieve goals with other small business owners in Pamela’s Leap Year mastermind group. [/box]

If you’re just starting your company, the idea of building a brand for it may seem daunting. You might think that with everything else you have on your plate, branding your business is too much to take on in the early stages.

But branding doesn’t have to be complex or difficult. And the earlier you establish the basic elements of your brand, the better you can use the power of time and repeated exposure to cement your brand image in people’s minds.

In this post, we’re going to talk about six branding elements you should establish early on. Make these decisions now so you can brand your business consistently from the very beginning.

1. Find a memorable name

What do you need to keep in mind when naming your start up? This one is tough, because so often the direction of your business changes slightly after it’s existed for a while, and you end up out growing your name.

A suggestion? Pick a name that can grow with you. Make it interesting, and perhaps not too specific. Then get into the specifics in your tagline.

For inspiration about how not to name your business, watch cnet.com’s video of the five worst tech names ever.

2. Create a benefits-oriented tagline

I love tag lines. Why? Because they’re so flexible!

  • You have seven or eight words to work with
  • You can easily change them in the future if the nature of your business changes
  • Done right, they’re a fantastic marketing tool

Speak directly about what you offer in your tagline, especially if your company name doesn’t already say it. The best taglines talk about the benefits of your product or service. Not the features! Focus on the end result your customers will experience after they’ve made a purchase.

3. Choose two colors and use them consistently

When visitors come to your website or see your business card, will they remember your color story?

Your color story is the overall impression of your business’s main colors. It’s a lot easier to make a memorable impression if you’re not asking them to recognize and remember a long list of colors.

That’s why I recommend sticking with two main colors. Big brands do this: McDonald’s has its red and yellow, FedEx is purple and orange, Starbucks is green and black.

Pick two main colors to represent your brand, and make sure you use them prominently on your website and in your print materials. Start now, and your color story will become obvious over time.

4. Find unique, readable fonts and use them everywhere

Your fonts say a lot about the personality of your company. Is it:

  • Formal?
  • Casual?
  • High tech?
  • Artisan?
  • Old World?
  • Child-like?

Think about the “personality” you’d like to convey, and choose fonts that get that message across.

For the most part, serif fonts, the ones with the little “feet,” are more formal, artisan and classic.

Sans-serif fonts, their streamlined siblings, are more high tech, neutral and casual.

To learn more about working with fonts, visit my font resource page.

5. Craft your Big Brand Promise

In order to speak confidently about your business, you need to think through what you’re going to say, and how you can say it in a way that will resonate with the market you want to reach.

I recommend you develop what I call your Big Brand Promise. This is a standard paragraph of text you can come back to every time you need to explain what your company does.

Develop your Big Brand Promise by filling in these blanks:

Your company name ___
What your business offers ___
What makes it unique ___
How customers benefit from what you offer ___

So for example, your Big Brand Promise might sound like this:

DIY App Creator puts smartphone app creation in the hands of everyone. Our easy-to-use interface allows non-coders to create an app in less than two hours. They’ll increase their income and reach by using our proprietary app submission engine to get their app into online stores faster.

Once you’ve crafted your Big Brand Promise, you can use it all over: on your website, in your print marketing materials, in proposals, and while networking in person.

6. Create a style guide for reference

To really make your branding efforts work in your favor, you want to use all of these branding elements consistently over time. Make it easy on yourself by noting everything in an informal “branding style guide” for your business. This doesn’t have to be fancy: just open a word processing document, and note your business name, tagline, brand promise, colors, and fonts.

Every time you do anything branding related, refer back to this master document so you don’t deviate from your your standard branding decisions.

Want to create a memorable brand? Get these elements nailed down now and note them in a style guide so you can be consistent over time. Your brand message and visual style will come through loud and clear.

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