Branding Basics: What You Need to Launch Your Business
For most small businesses, your brand only requires a few things to get started. You don’t need a $10,000 Look & Feel developed – you just need the basics.
A Unique Logo
Start with your logo. Unless your launching a graphic design business (and you’re a designer) don’t design it yourself. And don’t hire your 16 year old niece who’s “good at art” either. A homemade logo can make you look unprofessional and inexperienced, neither of which inspire confidence with your potential clients.
Hire a professional graphic designer. You can find graphic designers on Craigslist (check the small business ad section under “creative”), and on sites like guru.com. Be sure to look at their portfolio – it should include a variety of logo designs in a style (or styles) that will work well for your type of business. Expect to pay between $500-$1500 for a good design.
If that seems too pricey, try 99designs.com for inexpensive, professional logo designs. Their logos are pre-designed, they just plug-in your company name and off you go…
Make sure whoever creates your logo, provides you with your logo in a variety of file formats. You’ll need some for print (i.e.. on your business cards) and some for the web and possibly a different format for signage, embroidery and other materials. Read Understanding Logo File Formats to know what you’ll need.
Next you’ll need some business cards. Some graphic designers include business card design as part of their logo package. Some will bundle up business card design with letterhead and envelope design. Check to see if you can get a discount or package rate if you do your logo and business card design at the same time.
Alternately you can use a resource like VistaPrint to create your business cards online. They have pre-designed cards that you can plug in your contact info and logo to create your own business cards. While the designs are professional looking, a lot of other people use their services, so keep in mind that you won’t have a one of a kind card that sets you apart from your competition.
Avoid printing cards on your home printer. These days online printing is less expensive than the ink you’ll need to print your cards. Sites like PsPrint.com let you print as few as 50 cards for nearly as little as it costs to ship them to you.
A ‘Brochure’ Website
These days most businesses can’t get off the ground without a website, particularly if you don’t have a retail location. A website legitimizes your company to your potential clients. It also provides important information about who you are and what you do, your contact info, and the products and services you offer.
A brochure website is a basic, typically 6-page website, that acts like a virtual brochure about your company. Your site should include a home page, an about page, a services page (if you offer services), a products page (if you offer products for sale), a testimonials page and a contact page.
Read the 8 Essential Elements of a Powerful Website to learn what else your website should include.
While logo, business cards, and a website are the basics necessary for most small businesses to launch their brand, some businesses will need more.
If you’re a retail store doing business with the public, you’ll need signage. A law office or CPA will want letterhead and envelopes. A restaurant will need menus. A salon will need a brochure or services menu. And so on…
Explore the Branding section to find a variety of articles that will help you build your brand.
Melissa Shimmin is an award-winning designer specializing in branding, graphic and web design. Visit her online at Shimmin Design.Written by Melissa Shimmin
Melissa Shimmin is an award-winning designer who has been helping companies both big and small create, evolve and strengthen their identities, branding and marketing collateral for more than 15 years. And yet, Melissa is more than just a designer: she takes a big picture perspective, combining marketing strategy and copywriting with design to create stronger, more impactful branding and identity for the companies she partners with. Check out her work at Shimmin Design.