News TemplateThe Aurora, IL Small Business Owner’s Guide to Branding Basics

Perhaps you’ve heard that it’s important for your small business to have a “brand,” yet you’re not quite sure what branding is or how you would go about applying this concept on a practical level. The term “brand” can seem vague, but every entrepreneur is capable of defining and illustrating their company’s brand. Here are some top tips from the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce to help you figure out your company’s brand and develop a strategy that allows your values to shine in your marketing.


What is Branding?


Brandingmag states that in the business world, the term “branding” refers to the process of identifying, curating, and managing a company’s impression on customers and stakeholders. Basically, it’s about honing in on your company’s values and finding ways to emphasize these values through your internal and external communications. A company with an engaging, all-encompassing brand can inspire deeper loyalty in its customer base.


Key Brand Elements


When you think about incorporating your brand into your marketing materials, things like color schemes, logos, and other visuals might come to mind. However, it’s important to remember that effective branding isn’t just about visuals. Marketing 91 states that even the name of your company and your business’s slogan or catchphrase are important elements of your brand.


Identify Your Target Market


Identifying your target market is one of the most important aspects of the branding process because your target market will respond better to certain branding choices than others. For example, if you are trying to reach a target market comprised of millennial consumers, you should brand your business differently than a company that wants to reach senior consumers. 


Figuring out your target market starts with defining your representative customer. How old are they? How much money do they make? Where do they live? If you’re in the business-to-business space, think about which industry your clients operate in, how many people they employ, and what their annual revenue looks like. With details like these, you can create a comprehensive customer profile to guide your branding decisions.


Define Your Brand


Now that you know what branding is and you know who you want to reach with your branded materials, it’s time to define your company’s unique brand. It’s a good idea to start the process by writing out a sentence that sums up your company’s core values - this will help you hone in on your core brand message, which should be reflected in all of your branded materials. Then, think about which visual elements and language choices will best reflect this message.


Projects to DIY vs. Outsource


While you might benefit from working with a professional to design your visual branding guide or outline your overarching strategy, using free online tools makes it easy to tackle small DIY projects, like creating graphics or other visual brand aids. For example, if you want to create personalized banners for any platform to reflect your brand, you can use an online banner maker rather than hiring a graphic designer. 


However, when you do choose to outsource, ensure that you have good communication channels in place so that you get what you want out of the contract. Since you can’t always meet face-to-face, look into ways to provide clear feedback digitally. Learning how to edit a PDF is easy with a free online editing tool. These tools allow you to make notes, highlight specific areas, and add virtual sticky notes to make sure what you love - and what you want changed - are clearly indicated. Plus, both you and your designer will have a digital record of the drafts and feedback in case there is any confusion.


Projects to DIY vs. Outsource


Branding doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you get clear on your company’s mission and philosophy, you’ll be able to determine your target market and handle crucial DIY branding projects in-house. Be sure to keep great records and use online editors to maintain good communication practices, and your branding will be moving your business forward in no time!

Join the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce to network with other local entrepreneurs and access valuable resources for helping your business grow.