There’s no question that being a small business has distinct advantages in today’s global markets. For example, small companies tend to be more agile and innovative. So, you may ask, why not use your small stature to your advantage when branding your company? Why not look small? Here’s why: comfort factor. To successfully brand your business, you must project an image of strength and stability – traits automatically associated with big companies. Customers must trust that you can and will deliver on your promises. In other words, they have to feel comfortable with you. A small business can assert that it stands behind its products and services, but if its marketing materials scream “amateur” or “mom-and-pop”, forget about it.
It’s not about looking conservative. It’s about looking professional. After all, big companies don’t fall into a one-size-fits-all-mold. There’s lots of room for creativity. Consider Macintosh v. IBM. While their branding remains dissimilar, both project big-company professionalism.
Fortunately, looking like a big company isn’t rocket science. The cardinal rule to “looking big” is this: Coordinate your promotional materials, from your business cards to your website and everything in between. If your marketing materials don’t match, it can cause an identity crisis among potential customers, who may believe they are looking at different companies. Here are four easy ways to tie your materials together:
Consider the logos of Fortune 500 companies like Sprint, Nike and Target. These huge companies didn’t pick clean, simple logos by accident. They chose them because they fit the key requirements to be a solid logo: they’re easy to remember, they reduce in size without losing detail, and they work in one-color (e.g., faxes). They’re unique and/or meaningful as well, proving that you don’t need complex artwork and intricate detail to leave an impression.
Your logo is so important because it will appear on, and thus should match, all your other materials. From a graphics perspective, your logo is your brand foundation. Build wisely.
Choose a color – preferably one from your logo – and splash it throughout your marketing materials. Again, look at the big guys: Target focuses on red and Sprint pounds away at yellow. Notice that each has chosen one color, not two or three.
Color plays a huge role in memory recall. As much as possible, your color should set you apart, work with your industry and image, and tie to your brand promise. Most importantly, the color you choose should appear as the predominant color on every promotional piece you develop.
Again, your goal is to get customers to remember you and associate your materials with your brand attributes. Fonts, like color and graphics, project different images. For example, if you don’t want to appear conservative, I wouldn’t recommend Helvetica.
At some point, you may get sick to death of your brand standards. (Usually this occurs at the same time it’s sinking in with your customers.) There may also come a time when you yearn for “fresh” printed material for a trade show or customer meeting. You may be tempted to introduce an exciting new color or unusual font selection. Remind yourself that while consistency isn’t always fun, it is the proven path to branding success.
Nowadays, your company’s actual size may not matter but its perceived size does. Looking big pays off big-time. Read our logo design tips for more ideas on taking your company “big”.