We’ve successfully finished the second phase of branding, designing, and now it’s time to take everything you’ve acquired in that phase, and evolve it into the development phase.
Brand assets, everything from business cards, stationery items to a website, are must-haves for a startup. Every brand asset should include your company name and logo. It may be a wise decision to hire a lawyer to trademark your name and logo, or at least do a quick search to to be reasonably sure of trademark success prior to spending liquid assets on things like business cards or logo designs.
Think back to the first phase of this project – defining. Think about your target market. How do they prefer to receive information? Are they email fanatics? Email campaigns and email newsletters might be the most effective approach. Do they like to surf the web? Creating a website and optimizing it for search engines (also known as SEO – Search Engine Optimization) might be the primary focus. Are they old fashioned? Maybe you should consider creating a nice direct-mailing campaign on a high quality paper. If your target audience involves a variety of multiple targets, multiple approaches may be needed. Now look over your notes from the second phase – designing, it’s time to start putting everything together and building your must-have brand assets – from business cards and stationary items, to your website.
Your Front Office Documents
Putting a stationary package together can be time consuming and expensive for a startup – so at the very least, have a digital letterhead made up or design one yourself. A digital letterhead is basically the same as printed letterhead, only the header of the page is printed with the letter, rather then setting a 2 inch margin on your word processed document and changing out the paper in your printer. A digital letterhead can serve as a powerful branding tool for small businesses, and having one at the ready makes it easier and less time consuming create paperwork like invoices, engagement handouts, contracts, branded letters, and all other paperwork very easy. If you use your brand on all of the communications that you send out, it’s more likely that your customers will see your business as established and credible, and leave them with a good impression. Make sure you refer back to your notes – stick with your color scheme and font selections!
Your Marketing Materials
Create a full set of print materials:
A full set of print materials enables you to market and promote your business with ease. Imagine having a box in your office that contains all of the printed collateral that you need to close business and make sales. Advancing your business is streamlined because you can easily go to that box, pull out the right pieces, and send to prospects, take to meetings or networking events, or give to partners to help to promote your business.
Just what constitutes a full set of printed materials differs for every business. The marketing collateral that a service business needs is vastly different than the collateral that a product sales business uses. For example, a service business might need a business card, informational website, follow-up tool, proposal tool, and capabilities presentation. A product business needs a business card, e-Commerce website, catalog, packaging, and possibly even product design. Evaluate the tools that will be the most effective in your business and develop those in the order that will be most beneficial to your business.
Consider promotional items:
Promotional items, such as note pads, sticky notes, pens, and other marketing items to use as giveaways, shirts, and so on, are a great way to start spreading your name, and can be a valuable ways to get your brand in to your prospects’ lives, on to their desktops, and to the fronts of their brain. Think about the promotional items that will be most appropriate, desired, and retained by your target market, so that they will appreciate it and integrate your promotional item into their routines.
Building a website can be a daunting task, even to the most seasoned web designers. Fortunately, there’s a variety of options out there to help you along the way.
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- Bring in the Big Guns – Hire a Pro: This is quite possibly the most expensive option in the web design department. A professional website can range you anywhere from $500 to $1000, even more depending on what you’re looking for and who you hire. This may set you back a few bills, but you’ll get the peace of mind knowing you’re going to get a quality product that exceeds your expectations, and frees up room on your schedule to work on other things.
- Web Design in a Box: There are hundreds of different web design software available on the market today, ranging in price from free to hundreds of dollars, and most of which are known as a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor. Brought to you by Adobe, the makers of Photoshop, Dreamweaver is one of the most popular editors in this category. A WYSIWYG editor is exactly what it says, it allows you to build your site’s layout, content, and image as you see it on the screen – the software will handle the tricky coding for you. Using the software may require some degree of technical knowledge or even some artistic ability to create a nice looking website.
- Cookie Cutters for Web Design – Purchase a Template: The easiest and fastest method to building a website. The look, layout, and functionality will be handled for you, it’s just a matter of using your text to fill the site.
- Bob the Site Builder: Many hosts now offer a quick solution to building a site in minutes – drag and drop site builders. Granted, while these may not offer the deep customized experience you’re looking for – it gives you a groundwork to build on, and a quick way to get your presence online.
Regardless of the option you choose, it’s critical that you stick to the design you pre-planned in the previous phase. If you decided that you were going to use red and grey as your company colors, stick with it! Your website, be it a template or custom made, should reflect those colors that you chose. If you decided that you were going to use a PT Sans and Georgia font combination for your typography, again, stick with it. Uniformity and repetition is the key to solid brand awareness.
Now make it do more…
Take that website you just made, and add a little flair. Make it work for you! A short, informational website is a great start to your online marketing program, but make it a crucial part of your marketing strategy, or let it make sales for you!
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- Information Gathering: For whatever information you give away on your website, ask your visitors for their name and email in exchange – this way you can follow up those leads later, or keep them updated on the latest news your company has to offer.
- Sales, Sales, Sales: By adding an e-Commerce solution into your website, you’ve now given your customers a way to purchase your products from the comfort of their own home or office.
- Getting Social: Adding social media integration can be a great way to attract visitors to your page or social media outlets. Provide links to your Facebook or Twitter page, or add a live feed right into your site to give users a little more personalization and engagement.
A fully developed brand identity is a powerful tool to use in your marketing. It offers visuals that the customer learns to immediately relate to your business, and the more they see your brand identity, the better the chance you will be top of mind when they or someone they know needs what you offer.
Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg in the developing phase. Depending on your business, your service or products, and your brand strategy and architecture – you may need to also include assets like packaging, and vehicle and uniform branding. Contemplate every angle and facet of your business – a good understanding of your own business model and it’s needs will help you determine everything you need to get your name and image in the public eye.