Most customers recognize a company by its logo before anything else. A logo doesn’t even need to have the company’s name in it to be effective.
Logos are powerful. Businesses use symbols to efficiently advertise without using words, hoping that, in an instant, a customer will know who the company is, what they do and what they stand for. But even though logos are often the most appealing part of a company, they only represent one part of a company’s branding.
In this post, we will discuss how logos are just as important for small businesses as they are to larger companies with established, powerful brands. We will work through the common speed bumps small business owners run into when using, creating or refreshing brand symbols. Finally, Uptimize wants to help small business owners and entrepreneurs, so we will discuss how to go about designing branding marks and help you up your marketing game with an effective and attractive logo that matches your business goals.
Amazing logos are possible
It’s easy to think of ten logos you know off the top of your head. These logos or icons (a piece of the logo) represent powerful branding because the symbols came into your mind in a second.
But effective and powerful brands are just as accessible to small businesses as they are to the biggest companies.
Most entrepreneurs or business owners are too busy working on building and growing their businesses to create a company symbol or work with a designer to make one for them. In other cases, business owners are juggling too many things to know how to approach creating their branding thoughtfully and strategically.
Small businesses can create compelling brands but must remember that making one is not checking another item off the to-do list because a logo is only one part of branding. A powerful brand is not just a symbol. A company’s name, colors (as discussed in our previous post Importance of Color), slogan and more come together to create a company’s brand.
Creating a powerful brand, including an amazing logo, starts with a clear strategic direction. Strategy involves analyzing what the company does, what it stands for, who its customers and competitors are, its location and much more. A marketing strategy gets everyone on the same page, driving toward the same goal, and a company icon is one piece that develops after a company makes a marketing strategy.
Businesses often get caught up in twinkling, slick and sparkly logos. Designers can do wonders with pictures and letters that make companies look top-notch. Most innovative companies want to create a symbol that instantly attracts customers or clients.
You may think the companies with polished and professional logos have the upper hand in marketing know-how or have it all figured out. You can undoubtedly watch, admire, study, analyze and learn from these businesses, but in the end, does the company you admire do what you do in the exact same market?
Your business’ position is unique. Do you remember your ultimate why? If not, go back and read our blog post Your Identity. Consider what makes you different. What makes you famous in your community? Your ultimate why makes up the backbone of your marketing strategy and eventually the building of your logo and colors.
The Biggest Drain
The most significant drain pulling entrepreneurs and small-businesses owners away from creating a powerful brand is usually the time commitment and resources. Unfortunately, most small-business teams will answer the call of daily operations and obligations before spending the time to organize a thoughtful approach to business and marketing decisions that work to grow the company.
Some businesses never start a marketing strategy because they are too busy or don’t know where to start. In a rush to get things done, one person uses an outdated logo, others use the wrong one, while another makes their own logo to suit their needs. This is the reality for many busy small-business owners.
Uptimize has several clients who have walked in our door, or Zoom window, for their first consultation, not knowing how to answer simple questions such as, do you know where your native files are, or do you have a high-res version of your logo?
For example, a company starts with a design and redesigns it a couple of times throughout the years. However, the logo was not updated in all the places it was used. It is hard to remember what you had for lunch, let alone all the places you have ever put your brand on something. Eventually, several different designs are floating around town, either on a pen you gave away in the first year of business, or the truck you never repainted.
Law firms are one example where Uptimize has seen logo confusion occur. A firm starts with two partners and then expands and adds more partners. In this case, the law firm redesigns the original logo to reflect the new partners. Unfortunately, they didn’t pass the news on to the team, or a team member simply didn’t like the new logo. Eventually, everyone’s email signatures are using different designs. In these cases, clients will start getting confused.
What boat are you in?
Is your business in the same boat? Here are some questions for you to consider:
- Can you accurately describe the colors or picture in your logo (Hex or RBG color codes)?
- Do you know where your native files are?
- Do you have a high-resolution file?
- Are you using the same logo all the time in all places, or do you have different versions you are using in different mediums?
Looking for a change?
When was the last time you updated your logo? Developing a marketing strategy and creating a powerful brand doesn’t just apply to new businesses.
Companies can change their branding and colors if they begin serving different customers, or the look becomes outdated. For example, Starbucks’ Siren and Zillow’s logos have evolved four times in 15 years. However, these companies take a strategic look before changing their designs since it will significantly impact their customers.
Naturally, our goals change with time and circumstances, but the overarching vision should stay the same. Therefore, changing designs shouldn’t come often. However, a change in circumstances may necessitate a logo redesign or refresh.
It’s okay to revisit, recreate or start all over with your marketing strategy. At the very least, it will organize your company, making your future marketing efforts more efficient and polished. You will also avoid wasting time tracking down the correct logos and money on advertising that isn’t consistent with your brand.
Stop the confusion and create a marketing strategy
Businesses of all types can get stuck putting off creating a marketing strategy, and this especially holds true for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The daily obligations of making business happen, paying bills and making money can put developing a powerful brand on the back burner.
Confusing messaging and duplicate logos begin to creep in without a well-organized and thoughtful approach to marketing—Hello, storage box of outdated company swag. Goodbye, Instagram account the company opened and never used. In these cases, marketing and advertising dollars are spent haphazardly, not knowing if the marketing efforts were successful or chasing after short-term impressions without long-term customer gain.
If you are up to your eyes in work, don’t know how to move forward or are tired of wasting money on ineffective marketing and advertising, take a step back and start outlining a marketing strategy that matches your business’s goals. This effort will put your company in a profitable position, give you actionable ways to succeed in marketing and create a powerful brand.
Building a solid brand through strategy is key to building a brand, and it is as vital for a small business as it is for big ones. If it seems overwhelming or out of reach, it is not. Uptimize is here to tell you there is hope.
Uptimize partners with small business owners to help them succeed. Our free consultations will help you assess where you are or simply answer any questions you might have. Book a free consult now. We’d love to talk to you! Book a consult.
In our previous post, Your Identity: Vision, Mission, Values and the Ultimate Why, we built up our case for the power of a brand. To recap, business owners can build powerful brands like McDonald’s, Nike and FedEx. First, however, small-business owners and entrepreneurs must create a marketing strategy to achieve this.
Take a glance at the logos or even just the colors that Target, Apple or Google use, and you immediately understand who the company is, what they do, and maybe, what they stand for. The companies’ colors immediately identify them as powerful, trustworthy brands.
A good brand is just as important to small businesses as a Fortune 500 company. Small business owners can also create impactful marketing messages, logos and colors.
Building a powerful brand comes out of a thoughtful marketing strategy. Creating this roadmap backs the brand up and provides invaluable and influential assets for business owners and entrepreneurs.
A marketing strategy includes many things, such as the colors a company uses to reach the most potential customers effectively and efficiently. Choosing the correct colors to use for marketing a company can be as strategic as a company’s logo, tagline or target audience.
However, many business owners get stuck on what colors best represent the company. In addition, using multiple colors can muddle your marketing messages leading potential clients or customers to get confused about what the company does and what it stands for. As a result, they may lose trust in the company, or the business wastes time and money on marketing efforts that don’t pay off.
In this blog post, we will discuss why colors are necessary, and the common pitfalls most small businesses and entrepreneurs encounter with choosing and using colors.
Why are colors necessary for making a powerful brand?
When most people think of brands, they get a picture or color in their mind that represents the company. Think of Lego’s iconic yellow, Pepsi’s blue and red or the recognizable brown UPS uses. How did they choose their colors, and why did they think these colors would best influence people to their products and services?
There are situations where a company’s marketing team may have played pin-the-tail-on-the-color wheel, but more often, picking a company’s colors results from marketing strategy sessions.
Why spend so much time building a strategy before choosing colors? Can’t you plug and play a cool color? No. Why? Because a brand is an intangible asset that encompasses a consumer’s total experience with a company or product. A well-constructed brand builds trust with potential clients, and when existing customers find a brand valuable, they will return to it.
Customers get confused when a company makes a brand on a whim or starts messing with the colors or logo. And if you confuse, you lose.
Colors can be confusing. Take the color red, for example. Below you can see the variety of reds companies use. The difference between Target’s and Chick-fil-a’s red is very subtle, but more than likely, people would notice the differences; certainly, internal execs would. In the world of big business, people can lose their jobs for using the wrong color in the wrong place. This shows the importance of always using the same color to enhance the power and quality of your brand.
Unfortunately, because busy entrepreneurs either don’t have time or know how to choose colors strategically, they often inadvertently weaken their brand by using various shades of their main color (i.e., blue, red, green, etc.).
Almost anyone can fall prey to color confusion. For example, have you ever asked another business owner their company colors? Did they say blue and green? Here is an example of the difference in perceiving what the client sees and what Uptimize sees when a client tells us their company colors are blue and green:
Ever paint a room? If you have, you know there is an overwhelming amount of paint colors to choose. Sherwin Williams has over 30 color filters on their website to narrow down just the right shade to fill anyone’s inspiration. How about the cosmetic aisle? If you are looking for the most popular mascara, it’s Loreal’s Voluminous Original. But this mascara comes in Black, Blackest Black, Black Brown and Carbon Black.
Using multiple colors
Most business owners don’t specialize in color; therefore, companies will often change the colors they use depending on the application. For example, a graphic designer will use color codes to ensure the color used in advertising and marketing is the same no matter what media the company uses.
In some cases, business owners don’t have time to pull together the color codes the company already has. More often, business owners either don’t know the color codes or get too busy and try to match the colors to meet a deadline. Using multiple colors makes the advertising appear different, which weakens the brand’s power.
Using colors that don’t reflect the brand
A company may need new or updated colors when:
- An established company undergoes a significant change, such as a new owner or the launch of a different product or service. These changes require a reevaluation of the colors the company uses. In these instances, companies may have multiple colors, logos, taglines or even multiple company names and phone numbers it’s using.
For example, Mailchimp rebranded to reflect its change from providing email marketing services to a complete marketing platform. They also needed to change their style and tone. Mailchimp changed many things to reflect their growing services and values, but you can see this most dramatically with their shift from white to yellow.
- A company has been in business for a significant period and uses outdated colors. Marketing professionals can dive into the company’s history, take stock of previous marketing and create new colors and marketing materials that match the new or updated company’s look and feel.
You can see a significant change in color tone for American Airlines after its rebrand, the first in over 40 years.
- Changes in the market require a new marketing direction. If the industry or competitors are upgrading and changing to fit new consumer tastes and habits, new colors may help refresh the brand’s presence.
For example, Dunkin’ Donuts, now just Dunkin’, changed its marketing focus to compete with Starbucks’ coffee offerings. However, instead of messing with the colors and losing total brand recognition in the marketplace, Dunkin’ stuck with changing many things like its logo and packaging but didn’t touch the color scheme.
Unless you are a marketing professional, colors, color codes and consistently using colors shouldn’t be top of mind.; Small business owners have other fish to fry.
Establishing company colors are essential to marketing and is one step to building a powerful brand. At Uptimize we understand how difficult it can be to navigate the marketing jungle. That’s why we’re happy to help. Feel free to ask us anything you want by booking a free consult with us.
At Uptimize, we believe in helping businesses succeed. We do more than provide excellent marketing services; we partner with our clients and help them take their business to the next level. Up your game with Uptimize.
In introducing our “Power of a Brand” blog series, we underlined the importance of a brand and brand strategy for small b2b businesses and entrepreneurs. The take-home from the introduction is anyone can build a powerful brand, even if you think there is not enough time, or you don’t know how to start.
The first step to creating a powerful brand begins with starting fresh. If you don’t have a solid marketing plan, you’ll burn through cash on marketing and advertising dollars chasing after anything that looks promising. Many companies are fed up with spending hard-earned dollars on marketing and advertising that don’t produce long-term results.
Even if you already have a brand strategy or marketing plan, surely your business has changed since you first created it. So, it is best to take a step back and move forward from where you are today, not when you started the business.
To build a brand strategy, ultimately leading to a powerful brand, you must understand what makes your business tick, your identity, or why your business exists in the first place. You may have heard the words vision, mission or values, which we will certainly cover in this blog. But although those are pieces of a marketing strategy, the final goal to start building your brand strategy is figuring out the ultimate why.
Vision, Mission, Values
Identifying the vision, mission and values is a great place to start figuring out the ultimate why for your business. But first, what do vision, mission and values mean?
What do you think of when you read the word vision? You might think of eyesight, visualization, an idea or an image. The dictionary has two definitions for vision: 1) the act or power of seeing, or 2) something seen in a dream. Both definitions apply to a company’s vision. A business’s vision is looking into the future or playing the long game. What do you see your business doing, or who will the business serve or produce in the future?
The company you have now may not be making the same product or serving the same people in the future. So why are you in business in the first place? What do you hope or wish the company will achieve in the future? This is your vision.
A vision is also often called a vision statement. Some great examples of a company’s vision or vision statements are:
- “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.”—Google
- “We’re committed to a sustainable future for all.” —Salesforce.com
- “Changing the world through digital experiences.” —Adobe
- “We believe that everyone should have the option of quality, affordable insurance from a company they trust.” —Allstate
Outlining a vision is one of the best ways to get employees on board and drive toward the same goal post. Research proves that employees are more engaged, work harder and produce better results if they know and adopt a company’s vision.
A vision is also a great way of explaining to customers what you do. Often, a company will put its vision or vision statement on its website.
Our vision at Uptimize is “To bring high-quality marketing to small business owners and entrepreneurs through done-for-you services, online marketing classes designed to teach small businesses how to develop their own marketing, and through consulting services designed to support clients through the entire process.”
A mission, or mission statement, focuses more on the present day. A mission statement is usually a short (one to three sentences) explanation of what a company does and who they serve.
Writing down a mission statement may seem silly to a busy entrepreneur or small business owner who juggles work commitments every day. Because, after all, shouldn’t an entrepreneur know what the company does since they started it, for Pete’s sake?
Often, one stakeholder will know what the business does, while everyone else seems to be standing on the sidelines wide-eyed, confused or half-crazed. So, think of a mission statement as getting everyone, including customers, clear direction on what the business does, which ties back to the ultimate why you’re in business in the first place.
As the famous statement goes, “If you confuse, you lose.” So, creating and formally writing a mission statement down will get everyone driving down the same road.
Here are some examples of great mission statements:
- “Formlabs is expanding access to digital fabrication, so anyone can make anything.”—Formlabs
- “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”—The American Red Cross
- “Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.”—Slack
A company may not explicitly state its mission statement on its website or in its advertising, but it plays an important role in building a brand.
It may be hard to visualize something as simple as a few sentences making a huge impact on a business, but it does. A mission statement is an intangible asset, and because it’s so simple, it’s often hard to see the value in making one. But with so many businesses fighting over the same piece of pie, the ones with a clear direction will survive. And because a mission explains a company’s ultimate why or reason for doing business in the first place, they create value for employees and customers and are a great defensive tool for competition.
Values make up an important piece of the brand strategy and a company’s ultimate why. Values are guiding principles rooted in everything a company does and makes up a company’s culture. Values are how a company wants to operate and work behind the scenes to keep your company and employees working consistently toward the same goal.
For example, Uptimize’s values are that we are genuine, helpful, hard-working and growth-minded. We believe we should act with these values every time we work as a team or for a client.
If you ever wonder whether values make a difference, look at the powerful brand Chick-fil-A. If you have ever been to a Chick-fil-A restaurant, you will notice some striking differences between Chick-fil-A employees versus other fast-food restaurant employees. Chick-fil-A employees have a sense of urgency in their step. They are also helpful and courteous. So, it is no surprise that Chick-fil-A’s values are: “We’re here to serve; We’re better together; We are purpose-driven; We pursue what’s next.”
Putting it all together –Value Proposition & Brand Positioning Statement
Once a business establishes its vision, mission and values, it is on the right track for creating the other things people think of when speaking of a powerful brand, such as a logo, taglines, fonts and colors. Again, these all tie back to the company’s ultimate why.
But remember, creating a powerful brand doesn’t happen overnight. A powerful brand starts with a clear path or the brand strategy, which means before you make a catchy slogan, you have to move your vision, mission and values into a value proposition.
A value proposition is one part of a marketing strategy and brings together a company’s vision, mission and values. A value proposition is a statement directed at customers, telling them what the company does and what they promise to experience. The value proposition should clearly and easily communicate to customers what the customer will get and why they are better.
A brand positioning statement, or simply brand position, describes how your brand stands apart from the competition. It explains how your business one-ups the competition. Like the mission statement and value proposition, it should be a clear, concise and easily understood statement. So, while a value proposition is how your customers see your business, a brand position focuses on how competitors perceive you.
Usually, companies won’t overtly share their value proposition and brand position with the outside world. But they do provide a clear guide to the marketing team on what the other pieces of the marketing plan should look like.
Identifying why you are in business in the first place or your ultimate why is an essential step in the brand-building process. The vision, mission, values, value proposition and brand position make up a company’s identity and build a solid marketing strategy, eventually leading to a powerful brand. These are accessible and achievable to anyone, regardless of a company’s size.
Unfortunately, too often, small business owners put marketing strategy on the back burner while juggling the daily pressure of meeting business deadlines and obligations. But if you want to build a powerful brand that grows your business for the long term or upgrade your existing marketing, you must have a clear direction or a map showing you how to get there. That is what marketing strategy is all about.
If you are looking for help building your company’s identity and brand, Uptimize can help. We start by discovering where you are now and what you have already done. Then we decide where you are in the marketing process and how we can help, which often includes starting with building a marketing strategy. So, gear up and reach out to us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you build a powerful brand.
What do you think of when you hear the word brand? Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple, Levi’s, Lego? Your brain could go on and on. You can picture the logo in your mind, and the image alone sparks your memory of experiencing that brand before.
Picture in your mind the Starbucks logo. Does the mermaid image have its name on the logo? That’s right; it does not. But you immediately identify the Starbucks name and possibly a time you visited one of their stores. Now that’s the power of a brand.
A powerful brand will conjure up meaningful memories and experiences in your subconscious. People place value and trust in brands, and brands influence behavior.
Brands are just as important to small businesses as a Fortune 50 company. A well-constructed brand can build trust in your business with potential clients, and when existing customers find a brand valuable, they will return to it.
What is a brand?
A brand is so much more than a trademark or symbol left by a hot iron on livestock. It is an intangible asset that encompasses a consumer’s total experience with a company or product.
A brand identifies a company’s public image and reputation. Often, people see this as the company’s name and logo, but it also includes how you use these assets to promote a business, inspire trust and influence future behavior.
A brand makes up the core of what a company is and does, so if used strategically, it can become a powerful tool to build trust and grow your company.
Before endless acronyms were invented (LOL, FOMO, BTW), BMOC or Big Man on Campus existed. A school’s BMOC is just that, larger than life, outgoing, friendly, gregarious and the life of the party. But he is also the guy you can call to pick you up when your car breaks down or get you a snack to keep you up late studying. People want to be around the BMOC for his winning personality, but they also trust he will show up for others when they need help.
Brands are a company’s BMOC. They make up the total interactions and impressions a customer has with your products or services. Brands are consistent and used to intrigue others and inspire value and trust. Powerful brands influence customers to want more, just like wanting to be around the BMOC. So, a strong brand is a powerful tool.
Why are brands important for a business?
Brands are important because if used consistently and correctly, the brand can speak for you.
For example, if you see the Target logo, your brain instantly knows that they provide a clean store with the products you need and, more often, great products you didn’t need but now want. In this case, Target’s brand alone actually advertised for them.
Too often, small business owners are overwhelmed with the day-to-day aspects of running a business and don’t have time to concentrate on building a brand. So often, it feels like small business owners are up to their necks in work. And when small business owners and entrepreneurs do have the time for marketing, they often run into a mess of half-completed marketing campaigns, misplaced logo files, or don’t know who manages their website.
But creating a strategic marketing plan provides small business owners and entrepreneurs with an organized road map for brand building, eventually promoting the business tenfold. In addition, a well-designed marketing plan supplies a company with many other things, including:
* Understanding where marketing dollars should be spent.
* How to speak to customers to drive interest and sales.
* A backup plan, so if a business owner ever has to leave the business, another employee can pick up the ball and roll with the marketing efforts.
* Consistent and clear advertising and messaging, so your customer is not confused about who you are and what you do.
How can I create a powerful brand?
If you pass two golden arches, you instantly know that symbol means McDonald’s. But how did McDonald’s get to a place where anyone anywhere in the world instantly knows what these golden arches mean?
Now, McDonald’s has been around since the 1950s, so they have had time and manpower on their side to get the word out about their signature burgers, fries and shakes. But this does not mean a small business can’t create a powerful brand in its own community.
What McDonald’s does correctly, and what every small business owner and entrepreneur should know, is that McDonald’s knows what its brand means to its customers. But more importantly, they use their brand consistently, so customers know what they will get every time they visit a store.
This consistency is key to building a powerful brand, but before you can use your brand consistently, you must create one first.
How do you start building a brand?
If you’ve ever traveled to New York City, you might know how hard it is to learn the subway system. You must prepare ahead of time to know which trains are southbound vs. northbound, fast train or local, or how much money to load on a MetroCard. It’s confusing for a newbie, to say the least.
The same thing applies to building a brand. You can’t just pick a train and ride it to wherever. Before boarding the train, you have to study where you are and where you want to go.
To start building a brand, you have to map out where you are and where you want to go. Building a brand is not straightforward work; it takes a lot of consideration, time and effort.
Small business owners are especially vulnerable to not devoting time to mapping a strategy because they are busy managing their business. As a result, it can be easy to let branding and marketing slip through the cracks when choosing which tasks get completed.
But taking a step back to evaluate where you are before spending your hard-earned money on advertising and promotions that do not work is invaluable. Once you map out your brand strategy, you are on the right track to promoting your business the right way.
A brand is a powerful tool. It is not simply a catchy phrase or an eye-catching logo. Instead, a brand encompasses everything a company is, who they serve and where they want to go.
Building a brand is not straightforward work. Instead, it takes a lot of consideration, time and effort. Unfortunately, taking time for branding and marketing can quickly move to the side while the more pressing business gets done. This is especially true for small business owners who are busy managing their businesses.
A powerful brand is just as crucial for small businesses. Strategically building a powerful brand is available to small companies. Uptimize makes branding accessible by consulting with small business owners and entrepreneurs and taking the strategy work off their plates.
To get started, book a free 30-minute consultation directly with Uptimize here: Book a consult.