During my research into running a business, I read several chapters and blog posts on branding for your business. Branding your business can include:
- your logo
- the colours you choose to represent your business
- the font(s) you use for business cards, flyers and website
- and your profile picture and cover photographs on Social Media
- your mission, values and message (even down to your style of language) you use when communicating with customers, collaborators and other business owners face to face and online.
Even if you are a startup, a sole trader, a one man band or whichever label you use to describe your business, branding is extremely important and it is something that we can learn from the bigger companies that we look up to and respect. You have to look the part, and to use the commonly used phrase: walk the walk and talk the talk. To use my first business as an example, my mission is to ensure that there is a better a cup of tea in everyone’s cupboard, but I wanted the tea to be easily accessible, rather than hoighty toighty, snobby and exclusive. With the cheeky nature of my business name, I reflected my love for tea puns in the way I wrote and in the way I spoke (and always with a smile to boot). To make my business easily accessible, I chose to speak and write with tea puns to make me appear personable, down to earth and friendly which I hoped to mirror in my business. This was all deliberate branding of MayKing Tea. I even chose to dress in my brand colours (green, or white or brown). Note the brown jacket, brown ring, green jade bracelet and white tea-ware below in one of my tea events I ran in Brisbane.
Back to branding by way of logo, flyers and website. I was conscious that I didn’t have a big budget to spend on my business, having spent most of my redundancy money on going to several training courses to learn about tea. I therefore found a website that had templates for business cards, flyers and even a website for you to choose from. With my mission in mind, I knew that I wanted my brand of logo, business card, flyers and website to reflect my chosen brand colours. I chose those colours because I was selling loose leaf tea, where the tea I sourced is a natural product with no artificial flavouring. The colours I chose conjured up images of nature: the woody browns, the leafy greens and white as a clean bold contrast. The packaging of my tea was made from biodegradable materials. The environment is something I care about and I purpose chose brown biodegradable packaging to reflect the natural product I was selling.
For those of you who have looked at companies that produce physical and digital marketing products, you may be familiar with the picture at the top of this blog post. It is a popular template that can be used for creating cards, flyers and brochures. When I looked through the templates for a design, I was super excited that I found one with my chosen brand colours. I didn’t like the font as it’s a font that is commonplace in the IT world, so I customised the template by choosing another font, changed the font size and proceeded to create and purchase the business cards, postcards and flyers for my launch.
So what was my mistake in branding for my business? The thought that because I went to page 20 of the templates catalogue, that nobody else would find the same template. After the launch of my business, I was introduced to the world of networking by my dear friend, Katrina from The Marketing Lady fame. At my first networking event, I had a business card thrust in my hand (yes, thrust: she clearly didn’t know the do’s and don’ts of networking). The business card was for a beauty salon except that the font was the default. I was morTEAfied, and you know when you decide to buy a car, and then suddenly you start seeing the car you want everywhere you go? That’s what happened to me with the template. I saw business cards, flyers, posters, banners. I even saw a magnetic car sign advertising a flower business with the default font. It was like a scene out of Being John Malkovich! Love that film but didn’t like seeing the template I chose everywhere.
Although I did use a commonly used template, at least I got my business started. I have spoken with many business owners who have told me stories of how they’ve days, weeks and maybe even months trying to perfect their business card. I knew I had a date for the launch of my business and I didn’t want to delay it and I did what I thought was right. It wasn’t perfect, but at least I got it up and running. When I had the ‘Being John Malkovich’ moment, I rectified it as soon as I could.
Actually, the decision to rectify my business cards and branding was made for me because shortly after running my business in London, my partner back then was given an opportuniTEA to relocate to Australia. I was about to embark on a journey to restart my business in a new country and my branding was one of the first things I had decided to update. I invested some pennies (I mean, dollars and cents) to have a business card designed for me.
What branding mistakes have you made and what did you do to rectify them? Would love to hear from you with a comment below.