If you’re anything like me, when you first started out on your micro business adventure, you will have turned up like a bad penny at every networking event you could. No matter how much you hated it (and I still do hate networking!)—endless hours of talking to strangers, learning about them and their companies but still being too shy to talk about your own. I found the one thing which made it just about bearable in those early days was being able to hand out a business card displaying my brand new brand, which made me feel proud of my business. This became especially apparent when I compared it with some of the cards I was receiving in return – thin card, cracking ink and the same stock designs turning up again and again. Surely your business is worth more than a fiver?
Starting up a new micro business involves thinking about so many things, and you’re almost certainly going to be working to a tight budget, so you need to spend it wisely and spend it well. It is said that successful businesses are built upon strong brands, so the creation of your logo design and brand identity is one of the key areas to get right, right at the start. If it’s not your area of expertise, don’t try to do it yourself or get a mate to ‘knock something up’, because, trust me, your customers can tell. And don’t let it stop there – a brand can start with your logo, website, leaflets and stationery, but it also means the entire customer experience you provide – including how you answer the phone or communicate by email. Do your customers love doing business with you? Your brand is your personality – it’s what you stand for.
Here’s your chance to make that great first impression!
Developing a brand which your clients and potential customers can recognise and relate to can be crucial to the success of your new venture, so it’s vital to create a unique identity for your business. This actually helped me a lot when I was starting out. It made me realise how important it was to have something that was properly mine – my own brand, unique and personal to me, but designed to appeal to my target market. Things have changed and grown a lot since then, but the power of a good business card remains strong – it’s still the best way to put your business in your customer’s pocket. Knowing your brand carries through to your stationery, marketing literature, website, invoices and so on will strengthen both your confidence, and the confidence of your customers, who will perceive you as a professional, established business well worth dealing with.
Is your business wearing its best suit?
With the huge growth of image-based social media, people are becoming so much more visually aware (and therefore visually critical) of the world around them – everyone’s an expert. But although they may not be able to create stylish print themselves, most people can still spot a badly designed flyer from 20 paces, and will form an instant impression. It’s not good. So if you want to control the perception your customers form about your business, you need to present it looking its best. Bite the bullet and embrace the benefits that good design can offer, particularly for print or documents (flyers, business cards, press adverts, tenders for work, and so on) which your prospective customers may encounter in your absence. Your documents and print represent you when you’re not there, so if you’d choose your best suit to meet a client, why not do the same for your documents?
A good fit
So how do you do it? Ask around, seek recommendations of who people have enjoyed working with. Find yourself a designer who, by virtue of pride in their work, will be just as invested in the success of your business as you are. Many of my clients have been working with me for years and these connections have turned into lasting friendships. We each understand their business, we work together seamlessly and have developed strong and successful relationships. I guess, then, that my best advice would be to find yourself a designer you just get on with – someone who ‘gets’ you and your business, whose style you like, who understands the target market you’re trying to appeal to, and who will work with you to help you reach them. Your designer needs to love what they do (because it shows), they need to be someone you can trust, with the experience to know what will work and what won’t, who can use the art of visual communication to tell your story and present your business, your products and services in such a way that of course your customers will want to buy from you. Oh, and it helps if the whole process is fun too!