Recommended Reading to Boost Your Small Business Brand

Building a strong brand is a challenge for businesses of any size, but when you are a small company with a limited budget, the concept of branding often seems like a luxury that you just don’t have time for. The thing is, if you want your business to be successful, you can’t afford not to work on your brand. For a small business, having a strong brand can mean the difference between thriving and closing shop.

Here’s the good news – creating a strong brand doesn’t have to be a drain on your budget. With the right tools and right information, you can create a brand that people will not only remember, but will absolutely love. At it’s core, good branding starts with a good logo, but it’s so much more than that. If you really want to learn how to grow your small business by building a brand, why not take a look at what some of the best minds in the business have to say.

Here’s Summitsoft’s recommended reading list for branding and logo design:


Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

A great book that covers how to develop a great brand from start to finish. Packed with case studies, logo examples, and practical logo design tips, Logo Design Love is a great place to start if you want to get serious about creating a great logo and a great brand.


Essential Elements for Brand Identity: 100 Principles for Designing Logos and Building Brands

If you’re looking to really educate yourself on the subjects of branding and logo design, then Essential Elements is a great place to start. Designed to lay a foundation of what the basics of good branding and logo design entail, it also dives into deeper topics tied to branding that will make you well versed and completely comfortable with branding basics.



Building Better Brands: A Comprehensive Guide to Brand Strategy and Identity Development

Written by one by Scott Lerman, a branding consultant who has worked with legendary brands like Harley Davidson, 3M and American Express, this book ties in a host of real-world branding examples to help lay the foundation for brand building. While the companies featured, may be Fortune 500, the lessons are still applicable to businesses of any size.


Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

If you’re looking for branding insights from some of the best minds in the business, then you may want to check this book out. The author draws upon interviews from a wide variety of minds like Malcom Gladwell, Seth Godin and Wally Olins to give the reader insights into understanding consumer behavior in relation to branding.


The Logo Brainstorm Book

While aimed primarily at professional logo designers, The Logo Brainstorm Book is also a great place to start if you’re just a regular joe, trying to design a logo for your business. Offering an extensive collection of logo elements and logo basics, this book also includes a series of exercises to help get the creative juices flowing. A helpful tool if you’ve ever gotten stuck while trying to design a logo.


Building a Big Small Business Brand: How to Turn Your Brand into Your Most Valuable Asset

One of the few books that is actually focused on branding for small businesses rather than how large brands were built, this book is highly recommended for any small business owner. Written by Dan Antonelli, a Creative Director who has worked to build brands for over 750 small businesses, this book offers a clear vision for how to grow your business with effective branding and stellar logo design.


Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistable Brand on Any Budget

If you’re trying to build a brand on a shoestring budget (and let’s face it, many small businesses are), Maria Ross’s branding guide offers a wealth of insights. Offering a clear 10-step plan for how to create a strong brand, this book is also packed with real-life examples and strategies that any small business can incorporate – no matter the budget size.


Do-It Yourself Brand Design: Make Logos, Ads and Everything in Between

If you want to develop a world-class logo and brand without spending a fortune, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and take on some of the work yourself. Gabrielle Weinman’s excellent DIY branding manual helps you determine where you should be focusing your efforts and your marketing dollars along with offering creative tips for color, style and developing a great overall brand design aesthetic.


Logo Savvy: Top Brand Design Firms Share their Naming and Identity Strategies

If you’re still in the planning process and haven’t officially launched your business, you might want to give Logo Savvy a quick read before you take your business live. Offering fantastic insights and recommendations from some of the best branding minds in the world, you’ll learn all about how to choose a business name and create a logo that will help your business stand out.


Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks

For those who are visual learners might benefit from picking up this extensive overview of the history of logos. Less a ‘how to’ guide and more of a general overview and history, you can still learn a lot just by studying the history and design of some of the most successful brands in the world.


The Secret Life of Logos: Behind the Design of 80 Great Logos

This book offers perhaps the best insights into what it takes to create a truly great logo. Dozens of top logo designers walk through the logo design process from start to finish and the drawings highlighting how logos evolved from conception to final design are invaluable. If you like history and want to gain a better understanding of the logo design process, you’ll definitely enjoy The Secret Life of Logos.


Really Good Logos Explained: Top Design Professionals Critique 500 Logos and Explain What Makes Them Work

A great way to learn anything is to study what works and Really Good Logos Explained offers some stellar insights into what makes a good logo. If you’re in the process of designing a logo for your business, you could benefit from getting some in depth analysis on why successful logos work. Take those insights and apply them to your own logo design and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.


Designing Logos: The Process of Creating Symbols That Endure

One of the best all-encompassing logo design guides, Designing Logos covers everything from answering the question of “what makes a logo good?” to what the final logo design needs to include. With over 750 illustrations, this book is an excellent step by step guide for designing logos and is a great place to start as you work on designing a quality logo for your business.


The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding

A classic work on the topic of branding, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding takes real world examples from some of the best-known brands in the world and pairs them with a step-by-step guide for how to build a brand. A definitive text on the topic, many small businesses will benefit greatly from reading the section on web branding.


Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea into a Big Brand

If you want to learn what really makes a brand thrive, you need to check out this book. From product positioning to developing your company personality to narrowing in on a target audience, Breakthrough Branding illustrates why branding is so much more than having a great logo. Written in a way that is accessible for nearly everyone, it’s one of the best all-around branding books on the market.


What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest

When building your brand, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Take the best of what some of the most successful brands in the world have done and apply them to your small business. What Great Brands Do outlines what great brands like Nike, Zappos, and Apple all do and how you can apply the same principles to help your business succeed.


Brand Against The Machine: How to Build Your Brand, Cut Through the Marketing Noise, and Stand Out from the Competition

One of the biggest challenges in branding your company is establishing your voice in an authentic way. Brand Against the Machine shows you not only how to establish an authentic voice, but also how to define your target audience and cut through the noise to reach them in an impactful way. A non-traditional look at building a brand from the ground up that would be a great read for any small business owner.


Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

A somewhat well-kept secret is that the key to great branding is all about great positioning. Positioning yourself to capitalize on your competitors’ weaknesses is a strategy that can pay off big time and Positioning walks you through the methodology for how to establish the right presence. A great read for small business owners operating in saturated markets.

This list reflects just a handful of the great branding and logo design books available on the market today. There are hundreds of other fantastic books, not to mention blogs, written with the express purpose of helping you steer your brand in the right direction. If you have a book recommendation not listed here, make sure to let us know about it in the comments.


How to Create a Consistent Brand in 3 Easy Steps

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – the key to great branding is consistency. You’ll see this in virtually every textbook, blog post and eBook about branding and it’s not wrong. Offering up a consistent image for your brand directly correlates to the level of success you’ll be able to achieve.

You might think, “Ok, how hard can it be to use the same logo and fonts and colors in my marketing?” And while your logo, font and color choices are all vitally important in maintaining a consistent brand image, your brand is so much more than what it looks like in an advertisement.

To offer up a truly consistent brand image and build your business, here are three things you should focus on:

Really understanding your brand position

Your brand position helps explain who you are as a company and who you want to sell to. A good brand position helps establish where you fall in the marketplace and how you are different from your competitors and understanding your brand position will help set the tone for all your marketing and branding.

Still not clear on what your brand position is? Take a look at these questions to help clarify:

  • Who are my customers or who do I want my customers to be?
  • What do you want your brand to be known for?
  • What do you do better or different from your competition?
  • How would I describe my brand’s personality?

When you understand what you brand position is, it becomes much easier to focus your marketing efforts.

Establish your brand image

Once you’ve established your brand position, work on cementing an image for your brand. Crafting a brand image is hard work and will definitely include the following:

  • Creating a killer logo
  • Choosing a font or set of fonts to use in all marketing, social media and branding
  • Choosing a color palette to work

You’ll also want to think about the type of imagery you’ll use in your marketing and branding pieces. Are you going to include lifestyle shots with people using your product? Or is a clean, modern look without people a better fit?

If your logo features a character or animal, you may even want to think about making that a focal point of your branding. Even if your logo doesn’t feature a character or animal, a type of company mascot that embodies the personality of your company can be an easy way to create a consistent brand image.

Articulate your brand standards and stick to them

Once you establish your brand position and your brand image, don’t be content to let your ideas just float around in your brain. Commit those branding ideas to paper so that you have something tangible to draw from. Better yet, put together a simple brand standard guide, which outlines the following:

  • What your logo looks like
  • Any variations of your logo (alternate colors and layouts)
  • How your logo should be used
  • Any colors that are important for your brand
  • Any fonts that are important for your brand
  • Any brand images, artwork, or mascot
  • Specifics for how your company name should be printed (lowercase vs. uppercase)

If you have a specific perspective on what type of imagery should be used, a description or even examples would be helpful to include.

Don’t forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a brand. Building a strong, recognizable brand takes creativity, time and a lot of sweat equity. If you put together a brand plan and stick to it, you’ll be making headway before you know it.

10 Branding Horror Stories That Will Keep You Up At Night

Rebranding a company well is a really tricky thing. A company’s logo and brand are the public face of the company – it’s what customers relate to and tinkering with that image can have mixed results.

There are many great stories about how a fresh logo or brand message helped revitalize a struggling company. On the flip side, there are also the branding horror stories. The cautionary tales of when marketing teams are allowed to run amok with gigantic budgets only to produce results that are laughably bad.

While these branding horror stories may send a shiver down your spine, don’t let them keep you up at night. Learn from the very large and very expensive mistakes that these companies have made to make your branding efforts more successful.

Pepsi overpays for a new logo

b2ap3_thumbnail_pepsi-logo.jpgIt may or may not be surprising to learn that Pepsi has modified their logo at least once a decade over the last century. That’s in stark contrast to Coca-Cola, who’s logo has hardly changed at all. The most recent logo change for Pepsi was unveiled in March 2013 and the response has been, well underwhelming.

The white stripe across the logo is evidently supposed to look like a smile, but the width of the stripe varies wildly from product to product giving the logo an inconsistent feel. Even worse, it’s estimated that Pepsi spent nearly $1 million on this logo makeover. Money well spent? We think not.



b2ap3_thumbnail_accenture.jpgAccenture: The ultimate in generic branding

If you’re looking for a lesson in how not to rebrand your company, look no further than Accenture, which up until 2001, was known as Andersen Consulting. According to the marketing people at Accenture, one of the reasons they chose the new name was that it was inspired by the phrase “accent on the future”.

Well when you base your entire corporate identity on a generic business term, you’re going to end up with a pretty generic company name and brand. Accenture means nothing and is really the quintessential corporate business name. On top of that, the name change was reported to have cost Accenture roughly $100 million. I’d say they overpaid a bit.


RadioShack tries way too hard

b2ap3_thumbnail_The-Shack.pngThe-Shack.pngIn 2009, the ultimate dad store tried desperately to give itself a facelift and began marketing itself as “The Shack”. While RadioShack is great for a lot of things – batteries and dad gadgets most notably – it has never been one of the “cool” kids. And to be honest, that’s just fine – not every brand can be cool and to some extent, had RadioShack tried to embrace it’s nerdiness it would have been perfectly placed for a major comeback in today’s geek chic culture.

Unfortunately The Shack never caught on and the sad attempt to rebrand one of the best-known retail brands in the world missed the mark in a major way.

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_olympics460.jpgLondon Olympics logo leaves people confused

While the Olympic rings are an iconic logo that have withstood the test of time, the logos designed for specific years have mostly fallen flat, and non moreso than the 2012 London games logo. Created by the designers at acclaimed London design firm, Wolff Olins, this mess of a logo cost roughly $800,000.

While the logo is definitely bold, the London Olympics logo has also been called ugly, ridiculous, childish and awful (not to mention some of the other descriptions which aren’t safe for print). It’s an eyesore that will go down in history as one of the worst and most expensive logos ever made.

Capital One’s logo goes retro with a swoosh

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_CapitalOne.jpgThe phrase “going retro” can be a fun way of saying that a company is embracing it’s roots and getting a little funky. Or it might just mean that the company has done something to date itself by 30 years. When Capital One unveiled it’s new logo in 2008, it featured a bright red swoosh and the response was basically…crickets.

Including a swoosh in your logo design isn’t the worst offense in the world, but it’s been done a million times and hasn’t been considered “cool” since the early 90’s.

b2ap3_thumbnail_GapLogos.jpgGap enrages customers with it’s new logo

Rebranding your business with a new logo is always a bit of a gamble. Some logo makeovers are done well and give the brand a much-needed face lift (see Apple or UPS). Other logo makeovers…well let’s just say that they miss the mark. This was the case with Gap’s attempt to update their logo in 2010.

The problem with this logo makeover was that it was so drastic that the change alienated and angered what was a very loyal customer base. Taking the iconic blue box and replacing it with a logo so modern and void of personality had both customers and the design community up in arms. It didn’t take long for Gap to see the error of their ways and they quickly reverted back to the classic, beloved blue square.

Burger King scares away customers with the creepy king

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_BurgerKingKing.pngOof – this one still gives me the heebie jeebies. Back in the late 20-ought’s, Burger King unleashed what I’m sure they thought would be an edgy version of their king mascot. The ads depicted the king showing up in random places, including some poor guy’s bed and the marketing efforts were targeted at young males.

Unfortunately why Burger King was creeping everyone out, their competitors – namely McDonald’s and Wendy’s were putting their marketing muscle behind product and price. The result was that Burger King lost market share and are now focused more on promoting their actual product as opposed to a creepy mascot.


Qwikster: An exercise in pointless branding

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Qwikster.jpgAs of 2014, Netflix is both the darling of critics, consumers and the stock market with it’s high-quality programming and ultra-accessible streaming services. The term “Netflix binge” has become part of the American lexicon and very much appears to be exactly what consumers want.

However, there was a time when Netflix was just a small DVD-by-mail service. Once streaming started overtaking the DVD portion of the business, the higher ups at Netflix got it into their heads that they needed to create a completely separate brand for the DVD portion called Qwikster. Besides being an incredibly stupid name, establishing a new brand was completely unnecessary. After the immediate backlash, the folks at Netflix quickly came to their senses and Qwikster died a quiet death.

Tropicana ditches the orange and gets ditched by customers

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Tropicana.jpgFor decades, the iconic image of an orange with a straw shoved in has been proudly featured on the Tropicana orange juice containers. It’s a clever image that was not only embraced by consumers, but helped make Tropicana the biggest and most well-known orange juice brand in the United States.

Then the folks at Tropicana got it into their heads that they needed a fresh, modern look and updated their logo and packaging. The redesign can really only be described as “grocery store generic” and was panned across the board. The result was that Tropicana’s sales dropped 20% and just a few short months later the classic look was resurrected.

New Coke causes mass hysteria and rioting

b2ap3_thumbnail_new-coke.jpgOne of the most well-known branding blunders came from one of the most iconic brands in the world. In 1985, Coca-Cola was losing market share to a sweeter-tasting, more hip Pepsi and decided that it was time for a new look and a new recipe. They scrapped the old classic Coca-Cola recipe and with high hopes, launched New Coke. And then all hell broke loose.

The Coke-drinking public revolted. People started buying the classic version en masse and hoarding it and protest groups were formed. Fortunately it didn’t take long for Coca-Cola to course-correct and a mere 79 days after the much-vaunted launch of New Coke, Coca-Cola classic was reborn with a surge in sales.


3 Easy Ways to Up Your Branding Game for the 4th of July

3 Easy Ways to Up Your Branding Game for the 4th of July
For most small businesses, holidays are a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, they present an awesome opportunity to do something fun and different with your marketing strategy, on the other hand, it can be challenging to find the time and resources to make changes to an already jam-packed calendar.  The good news is that there are some really quick, easy and fun ways that you can show off your 4th of July spirit and the best news of all is that you don’t have to bust open your marketing budget to show that your company has holiday spirit.  Here are a few tips for how you can incorporate the 4th of July into your branding:

1. Freshen up your color scheme

There is no better way to show your 4th of July pride than by incorporating red, white and blue into your color scheme!  There are so many areas that you can quickly and easily update the look and feel of your branding that you’d almost be crazy not to do something fun.  For example, think about changing your website background to a patriotic image or update your Facebook photo to the American flag.  You can also tie in a patriotic color scheme with any emails you send, which will help provide some consistency and will look great to boot.  If you have a physical location, think about updating your window displays to show off a little patriotic pride, have some patriotic gifts like stickers, flags or temporary tattoos to hand out to your best customers.
2. Show off your company’s personality
Holidays like the 4th of July are awesome opportunities to showcase the unique voice of your company and there are so many ways to do this.  Because there is a broader context through which you are pushing your messaging, you have the opportunity to play up some of your inherent personality traits and still get your message across.  A few ideas include posting some candid shots from your company bar-b-que on your Facebook page, writing a company blog post about your favorite 4th of July traditions (make sure there is a logical tie-in to your product), or sprucing up your company uniforms with a patriotic touch.  There are many, many other things you can do as well, but the important thing to keep in mind is to let your personality sparkle. (See what I did there? Laughing)
3. Connect with your customers in a totally non-sales way
As a small business owner, your ultimate responsibility is for a healthy bottom line, but that doesn’t mean that your messaging needs to be sales-focused 100% of the time.  Try sending out a personal email to your best customers wishing them a happy 4th of July.  Better yet, if you have a little extra cash to spend, send an actual card or postcard with well-wishes or a thank you.  As mentioned above, you can also think about some small, inexpensive gifts to hand out to your best customers – something that ties in with the 4th of July and your business works best.  Your customers will appreciate the gesture and even if the idea doesn’t generate a ton of revenue, you’ll have fostered some goodwill and helped build a loyal customer base.
Whatever you do, make sure that all your efforts are well thought out and are genuine.  Above all, you want your branding to be authentic and genuine to your company’s unique personality.  Happy 4th of July week!

6 Tips to Create a Tagline That Really Works

You may not realize it, but your tagline is essentially the first and most important advertisement you’ll ever place. A great tagline will help convey a company’s personality and benefits in one tidy little phrase. Most importantly, a great tagline will help customers connect to your business at an emotional level, which is more than what your logo can do alone.

Taglines have been called many things through the years – slogans, catchphrases, trademark – whatever you call it, the idea behind it is the same. A tagline is a short phrase that tells the customer what you offer.

So what makes a tagline great? What makes something like “Just Do It” one of the most memorable marketing slogans in the world while a million other phrases are instantly forgotten? Here are six things to keep in mind as you create a tagline for your business:

1. What’s your mission?

When you start the process of crafting a tagline, you may be tempted to go for something that you think is clever or cool or funny. While that may seem like a good idea initially, it’s probably an area that you’re going to want to stay away from. Start out by defining who you are as a business and what your purpose is.

People don’t have time to try and figure out who you are and what you do – don’t be clever, be clear with your tagline. Wal-Mart’s “Save Money. Live Better.” is a great example of a tagline that tells you exactly what you can expect from the business it represents. Take a page out of Wal-Mart’s playbook and tell your customers what you do.

2. What’s the benefit?

Speaking of Wal-Mart’s tagline, not only does it tell you what their mission is, but it tells you what the benefit is in just 4 little words. When I read “Save Money. Live Better.”, it tells me that by spending my money with Wal-Mart, I’m going to be able to keep just a little bit extra in my pocket for the things that really will make life better.

The city of Las Vegas highlights the benefit in their tagline as well: “What happens here, stays here.” lets every potential visitor know that if they want to go a little crazy, Las Vegas is the place to do it. When creating a tagline for your business, really think about what the most important thing people get from your product or brand is and start there.

3. Tie it to your brand

If you want your tagline to really resonate, it needs to reflect your brand. What are the core values and beliefs of your business? What is your company’s personality? What do you want people to remember about your business or product? Your tagline is going to be much more effective if it relates to your overall brand messaging.

Disneyland’s slogan “The happiest place on earth” is a perfect example of a tagline that really encapsulates the brand. Disney is all about bringing magic and happiness to people, so why wouldn’t their theme park be the happiest place on earth?

4. Keep it simple

Above almost anything, you want your tagline to be memorable, and that’s hard to do if you’ve crafted a paragraph to describe your business. The best taglines are short and sweet and are easy to digest. Whether your customers are reading your tagline in a magazine ad, on a billboard or on your storefront or whether they are hearing it in a commercial or from a salesperson, you want that tagline to be simple enough for people to remember.

With that in mind, there is no hard a fast rule about the length your tagline should be, but try to keep it under 7 words for the best opportunity for recall.

Note that Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” is a very famous example of a very long tagline. Unless you have a marketing budget the size of Geico’s, it’s probably best to stay away from taglines that are this wordy.

5. Make it sticky

When I say “make it sticky”, I don’t mean that you should pour honey all over your tagline (although I suppose that is an option if you like to take things literally.) What I mean is that you need to make your tagline memorable. Keeping it short is the first step in creating a memorable tagline, but there are other things you can do to help your slogan stick in people’s brains:

  • Make it command (Just do it or Eat fresh.)
  • Be repetitive (There’s strong, then there’s Army strong.)
  • Play with pneumonic devices (Every kiss begins with K)
  • Ask a question (What’s in your wallet? Or Can you hear me now?)

Whatever you choose to go with, just make sure it sticks in your head first and then introduce it to others.

6. Test, test and re-test

Which brings me to my last point – as any good marketer or scientist knows, the best way to be sure about something is to test it out. Once you’ve settled on one (or a handful) of great taglines, try them out on a few people to see what they think. If you have the time and resources, put together a research panel to get some real-time feedback about your tagline options.

Just know that there is a limit to the amount of research and opinions that will be helpful. Don’t let yourself get wrapped into analysis paralysis where you are so tied to the data that you can’t make a decision. To create a really great tagline, you need to trust your research, but more importantly, trust your gut.

Need some tagline inspiration? Here are 25 of the most influential taglines ever:

  • “Got milk?” – California Milk Processor Board
  • “Just do it” – Nike
  • “A diamond is forever.” – DeBeers
  • “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” – MasterCard
  • “That was easy.” – Staples
  • “The few, the proud, the Marines.” – The United States Marines
  • “They’re g-r-r-r-eat!” – Frosted Flakes
  • “Have it your way.” – Burger King
  • “Think outside the bun.” – Taco Bell
  • “Pork. The other white meat.” – National Pork Board
  • “Like a rock.” – Chevy Trucks
  • “The fabric of our lives.” – Cotton Incorporated
  • “It keeps going, and going, and going…” – Duracell
  • “Are you in good hands?” – AllState
  • “It gives you wings.” – Red Bull
  • “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” – Rice Krispies
  • “Melts in your mouth. Not in your hands.” – M&M’s
  • “Good to the last drop.” – Maxwell House
  • “Only you can prevent forest fires.” – S. Forest Service
  • “Think small.” – Volkswagen
  • “The king of beers.” – Budweiser
  • “Because I’m worth it.” – Loreal
  • “I’m lovin’ it.” – McDonald’s
  • “Think different.” – Apple
  • “Where’s the beef?” – Wendy’s

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Small Business Name Rocks

When you are starting a new business, one of the most nerve-wracking tasks is actually settling on a name. Naming your business is such a stressful process in part because it feels so permanent. While it’s true that some companies survive rebranding initiatives, it’s very difficult (and expensive) to change a company’s name and retain any semblance of a customer base after you make the change. In other words, when you choose your business name, you’re pretty much stuck with it.

In a small business, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have the budget or resources for a full marketing push to help establish the brand, which is why it’s even more important that a small business gets the name right. You want to create a business name that customers are going to love, and more importantly, remember. To that end, here are our 5 most important tips for creating an awesome name for your small business:

1. Spell It Out

You may not think it’s incredibly clever to spell out exactly what you do in your business name, but being obvious can save you a lot of marketing dollars. There’s no question about what kind of business the Rock Rapids Bakery is and there is nothing wrong with saving your customers some time and legwork by telling them exactly what you do. This is especially helpful if you are a local business, which will rely in some part on foot traffic. When people see your logo – don’t make them wonder what you do, just tell them!

2. Short and Sweet

Iconic companies have something in common – they all have names that are short and easy to remember. Nike, Honda, Coca-Cola, Google – all these names are simple, short and roll off the tongue with ease. When naming your small business, you always want to err on the side of simplicity, because if it’s possible for a customer to confuse or misunderstand your company name, they will. Try to stick to company names that are 1-2 words long and are easy to remember and you’ll have an easy leg up on the competition.

3. Sticky Factor

Great company names, like great songs, just have a way of finding a way into your brain and sticking there. They are interesting and memorable and there is something intangible that just draws you in. While it may be difficult to put your finger on what makes a small business name sticky, you can get a feel for how memorable it is by running your idea past friends, family and collegues. Ask enough people and you’ll probably find that there is one name that is remembered a little more consistently than your other options.

4. Tell Your Story

Great brands make it a point to be great storytellers and tying your small business name into a personal story helps foster an immediate connection with the consumer. I think about Raising Cane’s, a fast food chicken fingers joint; the restaurant chain is named after the founder’s dog, Cane, and there are pictures of that dog plastered all over the place. Just knowing that little bit about the company gives me a personal connection and when I crave chicken fingers, it’s usually the first place I go.

Think about the people, connections and shared stories in your life and how they could form the basis for your company name. The personal touch may take a little longer to explain to potential customers, but it’ll help build a loyal customer base, which is a rare commodity in this day and age.

5. Make It up

If you’ve exhausted all your options and nothing in Webster’s Dictionary is really striking your fancy, why not be bold and just make up a new word? There’s no reason why you can’t – Google did it, Mozilla did it – you can make up a new word for your small business name too. It’s a bold option to invent something completely new, but often times, boldness leads to a lot of respect in the marketplace.

Just note that creating your own made-up name for a company can be a little dangerous as well – particularly for small businesses without large marketing budgets. You’ll have to spend a little extra time educating the customer about what your company does. When in doubt, combine two well known words to help get your point across.

9 Tips for Building a Brand on a Tight Budget

With most small businesses, there are two things that are almost always going to run a little tight – time and money. Unfortunately those are the two things that usually help the most when trying to build a brand. The good news is that you can absolutely still build a strong brand and grow your business even if you have a miniscule budget. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Create a rock star logo

There is no way around it – your logo is the ultimate visual representation of your brand and having a great looking logo can easily help you get a little extra brand mileage. There are a lot of different ways to go about designing your logo – hire a professional, use a web service or purchase some premium software to help you design it yourself. Check out our guide for how to design a logo as a good place to start.

  1. Put that logo everywhere

It’s one thing to have a great logo for your business, but it’s a completely different thing to really showcase that logo so people see it and recognize it. If your logo is your brand currency, you need to be spending it like it’s going out of style. An easy way to do this is with logo stickers or shopping bags. Make sure your logo is highly visible and you’ve got an instant walking advertisement.

  1. Set brand guidelines

As with most success stories, the devil is in the details and in the case of branding, consistency is the key. Large corporations have large budgets and staff who are paid to draft brand guidelines and police them well. For a small business, you control what you can and that means ensuring that you are using the same font, colors and aesthetic in all your marketing – email signatures, business cards, social media banners are all prime areas that if treated right can be a great extension of your brand.

  1. Start a blog

Blogging gives you a great outlet for your expertise and if you do it right will be a destination for both current and potential customers. Just a couple of tips: 1) Blog about what you know – you are the expert in your industry. Share that knowledge with your customers! 2) Be authentic – Most people can sniff out a phony from a mile away. Be yourself (but the best version of yourself) in your writing and your blog will start attracting a following in no time.

  1. Start an email newsletter

If you want your business to succeed, you’ve got to give them multiple ways to connect with you. While some people may way to come by and peruse your blog, others are email addicts and would prefer to have your information, discounts and news sent directly to their inbox. Email is an inexpensive and effective way to make sure that your brand is top of mind.

  1. Say thank you to top customers

One of the things that is pretty much universally lamented is the sorry decline in good old fashioned customer service. Be the exception to the rule and go the extra mile. There is nothing wrong with sending a personal, hand-written thank you note to a customer after a large purchase. It’s a small act that will go a long way towards building your brand.

  1. Embrace social media

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay and if you want your brand to thrive, you’ve got to get active socially. You don’t have to participate on every social channel, but every business needs at least one or two social channels to help build brand awareness. Choose the platforms that make the most sense for your business and really commit to making your presence known.

  1. Create a unique promotional aesthetic

Similar to your brand guidelines, your promotions will resonate better if they have a consistent look and feel. Maybe you choose to use a particular filter for all of your promotional photography or perhaps every sale message uses the same shapes and colors. There are a million ways to establish a promotional aesthetic – the important thing for building your brand is that you pick one and stick with it.

  1. Buddy up

Individuals and businesses who succeed alone are incredibly rare and it’s a safe bet that you’ll build a stronger brand and business if you develop a few strategic partnerships along the way. Whether your partner is another local business that you choose to cross-promote with or whether it’s a local charity that you publically take a stand for, you’ll find that having the right partner allows your brand to grow at a much faster rate.

There are lots of other things you can do to build your brand without breaking the bank. Let us know what works for you in the comments!

How to Find Your Brand Personality in 5 Minutes

Whether you have a brand new business or one that has been around for decades, success is going to be very hard to come by if you don’t understand who you are as a company.  A brand personality is what the consumer can relate to and whether you know it or not, everything tied to your company influences the consumers’ idea of your brand personality.

Brand personality is what makes Coca-Cola seem classic and traditional, while Pepsi feels youthful and more trendy.  A brand’s personality is created through everything from a company’s logo to their color scheme to the fonts they use.  And it’s important to note that the personality of a brand is something that is often built up by consumers and fans of the brand, which is why if you don’t want someone else defining your brand, you need to control the image from the start.

To help you out in this endeavor, we put together a helpful 5-Minute Brand Personality Quiz.  It’s a tool that will help you define where your company fits on the brand personality spectrum and how you can help translate your brand message correctly to the public.  If you have a chance, check it out – we hope you find it useful!

Discover your Brand Personality

Discover your Brand Personality

A 5-minute exercise to help focus your company branding and communication

Step 1: Print this page, grab a pen and clear your mind.  Think about your company, the products you sell, the people who work for you and who you want to buy your product.

You’ll find our Brand Personality Spectrum below.  Read each of the descriptors and think about how each set of words relates to your brand.  Place a mark closest to where you think your company falls on the spectrum.  Or if you’re starting a new company, or trying to re-brand your company, place a mark where you would like your company to fall on the spectrum. 

Note: There is no wrong way to fill this out – don’t overthink it.  This exercise works best when you go with your gut.


Step 2: Find the numbers that are closest to your marks and add them up.

What does it all mean?

Scores between 6 – 30:

Your brand personality is classic and traditional.  You tend to prefer established ways of getting things done and like to operate with a firm plan of action.  Your communication style is professional and you actively seek to promote the image of a stable company with strong roots.  Your target market might be high-end, upscale clientele.

Scores between 41 – 60

Your brand personality is contemporary and energetic.  You move at a fast pace and like to translate ideas into action quickly.  You aren’t afraid to take risks and you have an open, friendly and approachable communication style.  You likely want your brand and products to be accessible to everyone – not just high-end consumers.  

Scores between 21 – 40

Your brand is one of two things:

a) Very quirky with dots all over the spectrum

b) Riding the middle without any strong brand personality

If you fall into the “A” category, no problem!  Just because your brand doesn’t easily fit into a box doesn’t mean that you don’t have a strong brand personality.  Read through all of the tips below and think about taking some of the traditional branding elements and combining them with some of the more quirky, contemporary ones.  For instance, you could stick with a traditional color scheme, and traditional typography while playing up a more casual, accessible tone in your communications.

If you happen to fall into the “B” category, you probably need to re-think your branding strategy.  No company can be everything to everyone.  Take a stand and let your brand personality shine.  If you don’t, you are guaranteeing that your brand will be easily forgotten.  You can’t ride the fence forever! 

Branding and Logo Tips for Traditional Companies

A traditional company should opt for classic typefaces and a conservative, rich color scheme.  You’ll want to rely on classic, time-tested elements that will help play to the conservative, stable nature of your company.  Your communication style should be fairly buttoned up, formal and corporate.

Color tips for Traditional Brands:

  • Cool colors like blue and green help convey a sense of strength, trust and calm, while certain shades of red can convey a bold intensity and seriousness.
  • Deep, saturated tones work well for traditional brands because they resonate an intensity and seriousness with which the brand will be associated.
  • A simple, sleek black and white logo can work very well for a more traditional brand, particularly one targeting an upscale clientele.
  • Using complementary colors rather than contrasting will also help convey the feel of a harmonious, trustworthy brand.

Font tips for Traditional Brands:

  • Serif typefaces similar to Times New Roman work especially well for traditional brands and help express that a company is formal, mature and trustworthy.
  • Certain formal script fonts can work well, but can have a distinctly feminine feel  which may not be a great fit for all traditional brands.
  • Stay away from lowercase and casual handwriting fonts, which are better suited to more casual, laid-back brands.

Graphic tips for Traditional Brands:

  • Logos with borders, particularly thin or fine borders help convey the message that your company is mature, honest and strong
  • Square elements work better than round ones for traditional brands.
  • Traditional left-justified alignments should be used since they are more formal and expected, which carries well with a traditional brand. 

Branding and Logo Tips for Contemporary Companies 

If your company is on the energetic, contemporary end of the spectrum, you’ll want to play to your strengths by using vivid, bright colors and more casual typography.  Your communications style should be friendly, open and approachable.

Color tips for contemporary brands:

  • Warm colors like orange and yellow help show off your up-beat, playful personality.
  • Purple is another color that can work well for companies who want to play up any creative credentials.
  • Using contrasting colors will not only help draw the eye, but will also help express the energetic, high-energy personality of your brand.

Font tips for contemporary brands:

  • Sans-serif typefaces like Arial work very well for contemporary brands and help convey the sense that a company is modern, agreeable and more informal.
  • Handwriting or script typefaces are also great choices for contemporary brands, adding a personal, human touch to your branding.
  • Using all lowercase letters for your company name isn’t a necessity, but is yet another way to convey the informal, accessible nature of your brand.
  • Stay away from using serif typefaces, which are too formal for a contemporary company.

Graphic tips for contemporary brands:

  • Logos without borders convey the sense that your company is fun, surprising and maybe a little quirky.
  • Rounded elements work better than square ones and can help a brand feel more modern and casual.
  • Center, right-justified and even asymmetrical alignments should be favored for contemporary companies. 

Let it shine!

Now that you have identified your brand’s personality, it’s time to get to work and show it off!  You should work to incorporate your brand personality in all of your marketing – from your logo to your website to your business cards.  The important thing is that your brand has a voice – now use it!

How to create a logo for your business

How to create a logo for your business

Whether you have a large, multi-national corporation or are just thinking about starting a business, creating a logo is one of the definitive keys to establishing a brand and growing your business.  Your logo is generally one of the first things that potential customers interact with and having the right look for your logo can quickly turn a potential customer into a buyer.  On the other hand, if your logo is poorly designed, unclear or just plain ugly, it can easily have the opposite effect.   To help get you moving in the right direction, our expert team has put together the definitive guide to creating a logo for your business.

Step 1: Understand your brand

Because a logo is the quintessential embodiment of your brand, you’re going to need to have a good understanding of your brand position before you even think about hiring a logo designer or creating a logo yourself.  If you’re not really sure what your brand identity is, that’s just fine.  You can check out our Brand Identity Worksheet to get you started.  The key is that you have a good idea how you would answer the following questions:

  • Where do you fit in the marketplace?  Or what is your average price point?
    • Are you priced higher, in the middle or lower than your competition? 
    • There is probably a solid reason behind your pricing strategy and your logo can help reinforce that decision with the right color, image and font choices.
  • What is your brand personality?
    • Is your business more on the fun, eclectic and accessible side, or are you trying to create more of an exclusive, high-end brand? 
    • Wherever you fall on the brand personality spectrum, your jewelry business logo needs to reflect the personality of your business.
    • If you’re not sure how to answer this, check out our Brand Identity Worksheet to help point you in the right direction.

Step 2: Learn some logo basics

Whether you’re hiring a professional logo designer or using logo software to create a logo yourself, you are going to want to understand some logo design fundamentals before you start the design process.  We’ve created the ultimate logo design guide, which you can download totally free.  Before you start the design process, take a few minutes to read through our tips – you’ll probably save yourself a lot of time and money if you do.  For a quick overview, these are the core principles of good logo design:

  • Logo Elements – Almost every business logo will include two things: the company name and an icon or image.  You can opt for an image-free or a name-free logo, but for most businesses, we would not recommend this.  If you have any doubts, make sure you include both your company name and a great image that ties into your industry.
  • Color – Color choice can make or break your business logo.  Most logos should use no more than 2-3 coordinating colors.  Different colors can evoke different emotional responses and you want that emotional response to tie in with your overall brand.  Also consider how your color choices look on a variety of backgrounds – business cards, storefronts, website, invoices, etc.
  • Fonts – Different fonts have the ability to convey the personality of your brand in just a few words.  When designing a logo for your business, choose a font that evokes the right personality and also ties in with your color choice.  You’ll want to make sure that the font you choose is not too thin or flowery so that it can be easily read on everything from your business cards to the front of a store.  Also, try and stick to one font, but if you must use multiple fonts in your logo, limit it to two fonts at the most.
  • Icons and Images – The right image or icon in your jewelry logo has the ability to tie the whole thing together.  When selecting images for your company logo, they should always tie into and reinforce your brand personality.  And above all, the image that you select for your logo should have some tie to your industry.  You don’t have to choose a something obvious – you can absolutely do something abstract.  Just make sure that whatever image you choose helps the consumer understand your brand.
  • Layout – There is no wrong way to lay out a logo – it’s something that you’ll have to play around with until you get the right look and feel.  That being said, when deciding how to position your company name with whatever image you choose, make sure the focal point of the design is the company name.

Step 3: Write down your ideas

Now that you have a basic understanding of the core logo design principles and know what your brand personality is, the fun work can begin!  Start thinking about what you want your jewelry business logo to look like.  We’ve put together logo inspiration galleries by industry if you want to see what’s already out there.  As you look at other logos, take some notes on things that you like and things that you don’t, which is a great way to help focus your design. 

[block border=”5px solid #aacb24″ padding=”10px 15px”]Pro tip: If you’ve got the time, use Pinterest to create a visual board of logos that you like.  As you add to your board, make notes about what you like and don’t like about each logo.  When you start the actual design process, the Pinterest board will be an easy reference point for you to turn to for inspiration.[/block]

During the idea phase, don’t limit yourself.   Include phrases, images and colors that you would like to include in your logo and equally important, write down things that you want to stay away from.  Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Are there any specific colors that you want to use?
  • Any colors that you definitely do not want to use?
  • Are there any symbols or images that you definitely want to incorporate?
  • Do you want more of a handwritten font or a professional feel?

Once you have your idea list together, comb through everything and ask yourself if the specific idea ties in with your brand personality.  If an idea doesn’t reinforce your brand, then cross that idea off the list.

Step 4: Start designing!

You have a lot of different options when it comes to choosing how to design your logo and making the right decision from the start can help save you a lot of time and a lot of money.  If you’ve read through our guide and downloaded our free logo design eBook, then you already know more about designing a logo than 95% of the population, which means that the design process can begin!

Option 1: Hire a professional logo designer

There are definitely some positives to hiring a professional.  On the plus side, if you do your research and hire the right logo designer, you should get the following:

  • A consultation with the designer where you can lay out what your logo to include
  • A completely unique, professionally designed logo (sometimes several options to choose from)
  • At least 2-3 revisions if you don’t love the initial design concept

A good logo designer will want to ask a lot of questions about your business and what you want in a logo to make sure they deliver what you want.  When the process goes smoothly, a professionally designed logo can help take your business to the next level.

However, there are some downsides to hiring a pro when it comes to logo design and the biggest downside is the cost.  A professional logo designer who provides a full consultation, will work up multiple concepts and who will provide the finished product in all available formats will typically cost at minimum $300 and can cost much, much more depending on who you hire.  Cost aside, if you have the wiggle room in your budget and want a logo that will set you apart, you might very well want to consider hiring a pro.

Option 2: Use a web logo service

If your business is on a tight budget or you just want to test the logo design waters, there are a plethora of simple web apps that will help you design a logo.  These web apps offer a variety of templates for you to choose from and allow you to input your company name.  You can do some customizations like changing the color and the text font, but other than the limited custom options, you really don’t have many options for creating a 100% custom logo.  That being said, there are some pros to using a web app to create your logo:

  • Pre-designed options – Most logo web apps have at least a handful of logo templates for most industries, so if you’re struggling to pin down any concrete ideas for your company’s logo, the templates can be very helpful.
  • It’s easy – Simply select the logo template that you want and plug in your company name and tagline
  • It’s fairly cheap – Most web apps allow you to play around with and design a logo totally free.  Once you want to export and start using the logo, the costs range anywhere from $40-$200 depending on the format.

Using the tools provided, you can probably slap together a pretty decent looking logo and you will definitely save money by opting not to hire a pro.  On the other hand, there are some negatives:

  • Cookie-cutter designs – The limited logo templates and designs offered mean that your logo will likely be very similar to quite a few other logos in the marketplace.
  • Limited customizations – Other than changing the colors or the font and moving the icon around, there aren’t many options for really customizing your logo.
  • Surprise costs – You’ll want to shop around before choosing a web app to design your logo.  Most companies don’t list a price up front and you could get caught by surprise when trying to check out after creating your new logo.

If you’re on a limited budget or need something very simple, this route could probably work well for you – just make sure you do your research and use the right app for your logo.

Option 3: Use logo design software

If hiring a designer is too expensive and you’re not in love with the cookie-cutter look of web app logos, you may want to consider purchasing some logo design software.  If you get the right software, you’re really getting the best of both worlds with a custom look at a great price.  Not all logo design software is created equal though and any software that you choose should absolutely include the following:

  • A variety of industry-specific templates to get you started
  • Customization tools like unique brush strokes, shapes and shading tools
  • Integrated commercial-use fonts for you to play with
  • A set of drawing tools if you want the ability to design something completely from scratch
  • The ability to export your designs in a variety of sizes and formats

On top of all the extra bells and whistles, the right logo design software also allows you to create and export as many logos as you want.

The one big downside of course is that like any software, you will have to download and install logo design software onto your computer, which can eat up your hard drive space.  And while many logo design software titles offer free trials, software doesn’t give you the instant gratification that a web app might.  When it comes down to it though, for the price (starting around $30), you get a lot of bang for your buck when you choose to design your logo with software.

However you choose to create your logo, make sure you do your research, plan ahead and go with the option that best fits your business.