Strong ideas are the starting point of any successful business, but if you want to take it further you’ll need to learn how to brand your business. As part of our series on ‘How to Start a Business’, Joanne Dewberry, Sage Business Expert, and owner of Charlie Moo’s explains how you can use branding to improve your business.
Branding isn’t just about having a fabulous logo – you have to consider every aspect, including yourself. Ensure you work with colours, styles and themes which you can easily use over the various aspects of your business to provide consistence. Branding should encompass your whole business, including your ethos, core values and mission statement. Ultimately, when a customer sees your brand, what key things do you want to spring to mind?
The story of Moo
The name ‘Charlie Moo’s’ developed from my son – Charlie. We have referred to him as ‘Moo’ since he was a baby. Obviously, Moo lends itself quite nicely to the cow imagery. My friend came up with the concept of the cow being the letter M and it works on so many levels:
- As a full banner using the whole name or just using the M cow as a stand-alone logo, which does not look out of place and is still distinctly Charlie Moo’s. The style of the M cow also lent itself nicely to being transformed into both my girl cows, Megan and Olive.
- These stand-alone cow images work well as images on cake toppers, my popular range of wrapping paper and other products. For the Royal Wedding in April 2011, I used Charlie and Megan Moo adorned with crowns on a backdrop of the Union Jack. For Easter I have them wearing bunny masks. All quirky, unique and distinct. This enabled me to keep my branding consistent but also topical, seasonal and fresh.
- I also ensure that each bag I make has a label sewn inside it, a swing tag attached to the handle with string made from an image of one of our party bags, and I pop a business card inside too. That way, when each child that leaves a party with one of my handmade fabric bags, they – or, more importantly, their parents – know where the bag came from.
Get professional help
When creating visual materials, you need to take all aspects of the design into consideration; fonts, colours, and how the logo will work alongside your existing designs or packaging.
This is an important aspect of your business so if you’re not a graphic designer then employ someone to help you. Our original logo was designed in the basic MS Paint program and was incredibly square and pixelated. We got a graphic designer on board to smooth it all out and make it more visually appealing, which instantly changed the whole appearance of my website and has since paved the way for Megan and Olive Moo. These high-quality images could then also be easily used on branded items such as wrapping paper and cake toppers.
Ask your audience
Before you spend any money on logos, business cards, leaflets, web design, etc., it is really useful to get other people’s opinions; whether it’s via people you’ve done business with before or through social media such as Twitter. Try to avoid just asking family members as they will have a tendency to give a positive appraisal rather than the constructive criticism you need. Developing a brand is not an easy process, but once it is right you’ve then got to reinforce it in everything you say and do. It inevitably encompasses everything about you and what your business does.
Joanne is passionate about small business and writes a blog JoanneDewberry.co.uk providing small businesses training, advice & networking in areas of social media, marketing and juggling children and a business. She is also the author of small business book “Crafting a Successful Small Business”, of which this is an extract