You need a brand.

To get that instant recognition, emotional connection and memorable impression, every business needs a brand. Branding consists of the colors, fonts, style and voice that the business uses to share it’s message.  Online, your business has four separate areas to brand: your logo, your website, your email marketing, and your social media. If you create consistency across the board, it will reduce your work load and make marketing that much easier.

Start with your logo.

A logo is like giving your business a face. Every person has a face that is unique and instantly recognizable to most of us. The combination of color, shapes and placement of the parts of your face –your eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, etc — create a beautiful whole that connects with every other face out there. Faces are so unique that facial recognition is now used as a bio-metric security option. Your logo will do the same thing for your business.

A logo has four parts:

the stylized icon or graphic, the font and text, the colors, and the package. The key to a good logo is to keep it clean and simple. Choose a character, picture or symbol that will represent or suggest something about your business. Popular items include things like animals, faces, crowns, arrows, or flowers. If you need ideas, study some big business logos for examples. Amazon uses a simple arrow that doubles as a smile. FedEx uses another arrow that also shows a house. All these options use stylized icons to create a picture.

The text part of your logo

will be your business name or initials. The font needs to be clear and simple, but also representative of your brand. Remember, flowery fonts with lots of curves suggest creativity, and block fonts with sharp corners are more serious.  You may want to create two versions of your logo – a full size one with your full business name, and a smaller version with just the initials or stylized graphic.

The colors of your logo

will be the main colors of your brand. The colors shouldn’t be a main focus of your logo, either. Your logo should be able to be recognized in black-and-white or grayscale.  The colors you choose will enhance your logo, however. Stick to fewer colors rather than overwhelm the logo with a ton of different shades — unless you’re going for a rainbow look.

Finally, the whole package of your logo

needs to be tweaked. Is the graphic or icon recognizable or does it need to be simplified? Is the text readable or is the font too complex? Too many colors or just right? Adjust your logo to create a unified whole, that can be saved as a single image. That way you can use it wherever you need to. Consistency in branding is important.

Your virtual home base

Now that you’ve got your logo, you can work on your virtual home base: your website. The website has four parts: the overall design, the header, the layout and the content. Your logo will be the design inspiration for your website.  It’s just a bigger reflection of your logo.

Your website colors will be your brand colors.

The background should be the main color of your brand, unless you’ve picked a very bright color. Then you’ll want to get something a little more neutral, yet related to your chosen brand colors. The background color of your website will subtly reinforce that connection to your brand, through sheer repetition. It’s that consistency that helps your branding work.

The header of your website

is an extension of your logo. If your full-size logo will fit, you may want to just use that as the header of your website, instead of designing anything else. Otherwise, your logo should definitely be part of your website’s header.

The layout of your website

will also be shaped by your branding choices. From the shape and color of your buttons, to the fonts used on the menu and titles, the design elements of your brand will dictate exactly how your website will look.  If you are doing it yourself, this is where having a Branding Board or Style Guide will help you immensely. And if you work with a designer, they will appreciate the guideline you put together through your brand choices.

The exact content of your website 

varies from business to business. Your brand’s voice will be the most influential here. For example, if you want a brand voice that’s humorous and casual, your “About” page should be sprinkled with personal anecdotes and subtle joking. Even your menu title choices should be guided by your branding. Don’t use abbreviations or slang if you want a more formal, concise business brand.

Email marketing design is similar.

Like your website, your email marketing look and feel will be inspired by your logo. In a lot of ways, once you’ve designed your website, your email marketing will be a matter of drag-and-drop.  Email marketing has the same parts as your website – design, header, layout and content. So you can simply copy-and-paste from your website to the relevant parts of your emails.

Email headers can be smaller versions

of your website header. You can use a program like Canva to resize the images. The basic design of your emails may just be copies of your website. Use the same color choices and layout choices. That consistency from website to email will make it easy for your audience to recognize and relate to you. And while the exact content will change from email to email, you can use similar word choices and phrasing to reinforce your brand’s voice. Consistency counts.

Be consistent with your social media.

Your social media will also be reflections of your logo and website design. In fact, you can use a lot of the elements and images from your website on your social media. That way, no matter where you’re connecting with your audience, you have the same consistency to your brand.

No matter which platform you’re on, your social media will have similar sections: the header or cover, the profile picture, the biography or description, and the posts themselves.

The header is from your website.

You can use your website header as a social media header or cover photo. Or, if you prefer to use that header space to market your latest product or opt-in, you can use a scaled version of your logo or header in your profile photo. You should have your logo visible in your profile somewhere, however. Repetition is a key part of creating that recognition you want for your brand.

Your bios are from your website too.

Your social media bio or description should be a summary of your website’s About page. Use only the key elements, and keep it short and sweet. You can repeat exact phrases from your About page, to reinforce your branding voice. Branding means that you don’t have to be super creative, once you’ve done the basic design work in the first place.

Save time through branding.

Social media posts are where your brand will really help reduce your work-time. You can use your brand’s colors, fonts and style choices to create templates for social media posts. That way, you’ll make sure your brand has consistency no matter where you are online.

Visual images are more engaging than just status updates, so creating graphics should be a major part of your social media strategy. Make it easy for yourself by sticking to a few main types of posts. Exactly what those will be will depend on what your business is — and what voice you are creating for it. A formal brand voice may use a lot more quotes and inspirational images. A more casual brand may use more icons and humorous phrases. Pick three to five different types of posts, template them, and you can change the content easily.

Developing a brand actually helps make your marketing easier. 

When you have a consistent look no matter where you connect with your audience, you create instant recognition, emotional reaction and memorable impressions. You don’t have to wrack your brain every time you want to update your social media or write a blog post. Your branding choices will help shape and inspire all the content that you create.

Branding 101: Consistency in every tool
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