Brand It Out

Now that you’ve figured out your brand's languagecolors, and fonts, what materials should you be branding?

From biz cards to pens to brochures to foam fingers, there are SO many things that you can put your logo on to promote your business and be more memorable. Here's a handy list of essentials, so you can budget wisely:

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One warning: Proceed with caution when it comes to investing in lots and lots of branded materials right away. Start with the essentials you need so that you can reach your target audience, and be super clear on how you're going to reach and convert those people into customers. Are you going to start using social media ads right away? Make sure you've got your logo and cover images together. Will you be relying on word-of-mouth referrals and in-person networking? Biz cards and a great email signature for those follow-up "Nice to meet you!" messages are key.

Map out your typical interaction with your ideal customer, and make sure your branding is on point at key moments in that interaction: the first impression, the follow-up email, the moment when that customer Googles your business to check you out... you get the picture.

Brand Collateral Checklist

On the WebYou only have 15 second to grab someone's attention when they stumble across your website! When someone lands on your site, they're looking for something specific, and your branding (including both the copy and the visuals) helps them decide if they've found what they're looking for. Create a website that shows a customer who you are, what you do, and how to get in touch.

If you've done your branding homework up to this point, you know whether you should be using darker colors and serif fonts to present a serious website for an older audience, or using bright colors and emojis to present a fun website for a younger audience. Even if you're just starting out with a pre-made template, use your brand colors and fonts, and write the copy with your target audience in mind. Set the tone for your ideal customer so that they know, right away, you're the one.

What's the most important thing? Clarity. Make it clear when a customer lands on your website that they have found what they need, and make it really easy for them to take the next step, whether that's to make a purchase or give you a call.

Bonus tip: Brush up on user experience and setting up web content, and we'll get more into website best practices in some future Slices!

Biz Cards: We probably don't have to explain why these are important, but we will. Whipping out a biz card at the right moment can be a crucial first impression! Maybe you're out with a group of friends and someone is there who could be your perfect new customer; will you be ready to share your contact info and show that you're a serious professional, or nah? Make sure your cards include: your name (obvi), title (if applicable), company name, best way to contact you (probably email), and your website. Some people include social media handles too, but it's optional.

For the design, if you're doing it yourself to save money, you can use a service like Canva and customize one of their templates with your brand colors and fonts. However, we'll say it again: a biz card is a crucial first impression! So don't be afraid to hand all that info over to a professional designer and let them make you look good with an original design. If you do it right the first time, it's an investment that you won't have to make again for a while, and that can save you money in the long run.

Bonus tip: To save some dollars, print the cards yourself with a service like Moo or any of these other companies. A good designer won't just make you pick something expensive; they'll have some recommendations for you that fit your budget!

Email Signature: A branded email signature is one of those smaller details that can make a huge difference. In fact, did you know the average office worker sends 40 emails a day? That's 40 opportunities to market your business! Using your fonts, colors, and logo lets the recipient of your email know who you are, right off the bat. If your signature is sloppy or a total afterthought, you're risking your customer thinking that you are a bit sloppy as well.

This doesn't have to be complicated; just have your logo and information presented in a clean way, like you put some thought into it. Check out these great tips and examples to learn what to include. And remember to test it and then test it again to make sure it shows up correctly in different inboxes!

Social: If your business will be using social media to reach your audience, even if it's just through advertising, your social media profiles cannot be an afterthought since you'll be driving traffic there. Every single channel has different requirements, from image size for profile pics to character limits for your company’s About blurb, so go through the channels that you will be using consistently and give yourself time to fill everything out. Make your About language as uniform as you can from channel to channel, for consistency and so that your audience knows it's you right away. And on Twitter and Instagram, don't be afraid of including hashtags and emojis in your About language, if it's appropriate for your brand!

As far as your logo and banner images are concerned, check out this constantly updated guide with the latest image dimensions so you can make sure everything looks perfect on desktop and mobile. If you're not ready to design a custom graphic for your banner images, find a gorgeous stock photo that fits your brand and ideally also lives on your website. Remember, this image helps set the overall tone for your brand, so spend some time on this and ask people what impressions they get from your image of choice. If they're confused or don't quite get it, rethink the choice.

Bonus tip: Trying to DIY? Canva has templates for your social media needs, too; just make sure to test what you create on your social profile first, and, you guessed it, check how it looks on mobile.

What we're looking for is consistency in your materials, so if and when someone is handed your business card, visits your website, clicks on your Facebook page, and sends you an email, they will have an experience that's seamless and professional... even if you haven't sold anything yet!