“Know what the feel and heart of your brand is.” ~ Kelle Boyd, Founder of Ann Kelle Designs. It always comes back to a decision. Everything about our lives and businesses comes back to core decisions. What is your business? Who do you serve? How do you serve them? What is your customer service standard? What’s the best way to train your team?
When you answer these questions, there’s a new set waiting to surface. And that’s OK. It’s the questions that drive the business–and how you answer them can make you stand out.
After reading Visual Marketing, the new book co-authored by Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends, and speaking with Kelle Boyd, an artist who turned herself into a successful small business owner, I am inspired to pay closer attention to my company’s image.
When you’re solving problems for clients, creating products for customers, managing your staff and contractors or just trying to navigate all your mail, phone calls and email messages, it’s easy to miss some basic decisions when it comes to your visual marketing.
- your visual message can and should reinforce your mission and your story,
- you can afford help sooner than you think,
- you’re not good at design and you need help sooner than you think,
These can’t be ignored and don’t have to be.
After talking with Anita and Kelle, it occurred to me that there are three marketing things that many small business owners do wrong that we could easily do right—on any budget.
#1. The Confused Vision. It’s Time to Get Clear.
Anita, along with her co-author David Langton, provides 99 proven ways for small businesses to market themselves with images and design. And as I read their book, Visual Marketing, I was inspired. I now have a list of ideas that I’m implementing one at a time.
But even the best ideas have little value if the vision is muddy.
Surface Designer Kelle Boyd says you have to “know what the feel and heart of your brand is” before you get started. If you don’t know who are you, what you stand for and whom your product serves, then anyone can redirect your business for their benefit.
The beautiful thing is vision doesn’t cost money, so any small business can afford it. Just decide to get to the heart of the business—take the time.
#2. The “I-Can’t-Afford-It” Excuse. It’s Time to Get Help.
Not everyone is an artist or designer. In fact, most of the small business owners I know just don’t have the “eye” or the skill to lay out their own visual designs.
When they do it themselves, they often end up with print items that look second-rate. And their rationale is, “I can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me.” But your visual message is directly related to the public’s perception of your product, and that impacts your bottom line.
You can’t afford to wait.
In a recent interview, Anita suggests that you spend your money on a quality logo. This advice makes sense because a good logo gives you a color scheme and an image that you can use on all your marketing pieces.
If you cannot afford to work with a design firm, Kelle suggests that you hire a college student who is studying and practicing design. That way, you save money, and the student builds his or her portfolio.
#3. The Inconsistent Message. It’s Time to Say What You Mean to Say, Every Single Time.
Establishing a clear vision and figuring out a way to deliver a consistent message can take time at first. And that’s OK.
I know that Apple wants me to “Think Different.” Many U.S. citizens know that Burger King wants you to “Have It Your Way.” And the blog readers at AnnKelle.com on some core level know that she wants “to see you smile.”
When you know the vision—spoken or unspoken—then it’s easier to establish a consistent message that your audience will respond to.
These three actions cost more time than money. But they can help you build a brand—a message, a marketing image (whatever language you choose)—that resonates with your people.
Decide to match your visual message with your core vision, and then run with it.
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