So, you have a small business (yay, congrats!) but you don’t know where or how to invest in your branding? What are the best choices when there are so many options? Where should you spend your sweet small business cash (smartly)? I have clients in all stages of their business lives – from a new retail product to seasoned event planners with a staff of 10 people. In both cases, they are coming to me for some of the same reasons: they want to make the right investment to help push their business to the next level. Sound familiar? Read on for my top 5 best branding investments you can make in your small business (creative or not!).
- Photography. This is a BIG one. I have been known to steer clients away from investing in a custom site with us and instead using that money to hire an amazing professional photographer. This is a visual economy. Images are everything. If you don’t have right photos to tell your story and connect with potential customers (hint: people like to work with other people, not just slick marketing copy and patterns) you’re probably not going to love the way your site looks or feels. This is especially true with businesses just starting out! Invest in photography that shows you and your process. Don’t have a lot of finished product yet? That’s ok, focus more on yourself and your skills. If you don’t have the money for a custom site just yet, use Squarespace to get started and bring some business in the door. Save up the cash for the fancy non-template site (I can help with that, you know). Your photography goes such a long way in telling your story and attracting the right clients. Don’t underestimate it!
- Brand Identity. Ok, this one isn’t going to surprise you. Investing in the right designer that understands your business on a deeper level and can reflect your values through design is so important. None of this premade logo stuff that looks like everyone else. Find someone who wants to dig into your business and create something tailored to your brand and mission. Design breeds trust and attracts the right people for your business. You can’t afford to have something that doesn’t fit. The great news is, there are so many awesome designers out there! Just looking through Pinterest is proof that there are talented creatives to fit any budget. Take the time to find the right one for your personality and style.
- Website. We all know a great website is one of the biggest choices we make in business. This is the proverbial face of your business. Your storefront and your office. No matter where you are in your business journey, one thing is for certain – a beautiful site is a must. A site that doesn’t work (yikes) or isn’t well thought out is going to work against you and can repel potential customers. You need to stand out in the saturated online marketplace and a beautiful, detailed site design can make all the difference. Just think how those gorgeous photos you invested in are going to look online!
- Photoshop or Illustrator (my personal fave). Or Canva. Or whatever you are comfortable with in order to make beautiful, shareable branded images to promote your business. You have the brand design. You have the photos. You have the site. Now you need to share it. I always recommend my clients get comfortable with a creative program (it’s way easier than you think) to create their own designs to share on social media. Since I give them so many elements, it’s easy to put together something that looks gorgeous and is cohesive with their branding. Sharing images like these drives traffic to your site! It’s an investment of time and a little money that will pay you back exponentially. And guess what? Creating these branded images is simple. I wrote an easy to follow “how-to” post about it right here called “8 Simple Steps for Creating Branded Images to Promote Your Business”.
- Yourself. Finally, the best investment you make in your business is in yourself. Not to get all cheesy here but the truth is that you are your best brand asset. You’re the ambassador, marketer, and creative director, among 100 other titles. Your individual skills, talent, and personality are what makes your business unique, so don’t try to be like everyone else. Invest in yourself by constantly learning whether through courses, workshops or classes. Reach out to other business owners in your industry (yes, even your competitors), and get yourself out there. Stay healthy and don’t isolate yourself! Stay inspired and don’t work yourself to death. Think of yourself as the batteries of the brand. The goal is to grow a sustainable business and magnetic brand, so take care of its number one asset first. Trust me, this is an investment I wish I would have taken more seriously early on in my career.
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(Pssstt….I am about to launch a FREE mini course on creating an emotional brand. It’s a great guide for designers and any small business wanting to connect with their customers in a deeper way. Meaning: they love you before they hire you. My newsletter friends have first dibs!)