BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT 28 images SEPTEMBER 2022 How do I create and implement a recognisable brand for my new garment decoration start-up? Starting a business is a brave move – congratulations! You have taken the time to learn your profession inside out, and know your audience and your products, and taken the steps to set up on your own. Now it’s vital that you create a brand identity that respects and reflects all of that. Establishing your brand from the outset helps position you in your market, sets you apart from your competitors and communicates everything about you and your business. A good brand is recognised, respected and generates local customers. But what is a brand? It’s way more than just your logo. It’s your ethos, your company goals, your culture, the language you use, your tone of voice and your imagery. It’s the standard of service you provide, both in your product delivery and your customer relationships. A brand is how your audience sees you emotionally, as well as physically. Establishing that brand properly and ensuring that it is conveyed through your whole business delivers a consistent message to that audience and enhances your reputation long-term. First steps To create your brand identity, you need to identify your USPs (unique selling points), your goals and your company mission statement. Ensuring that your messaging, vision and mission are aligned and are communicated consistently creates a positive direction for the business and puts you in the best position for success. Working with a brand agency can help you in this process as sometimes a company owner can feel a bit too close to the business to see it objectively. Brand guidelines As your brand is created, guidelines about it can be put together. These then provide the rule book for all executions of your brand: online, in social, in print and in voice. They ensure consistency, and guarantee that your logo is being used as it should, from colours to size to wording beneath and around it. They set the standard, and ensure any visual communications match those standards. They guide on all communications. They also provide focus – brand guidelines can be adapted and added to as your company grows, but to have them set from the beginning means that everyone is speaking with the same voice as the company develops. This prevents too many changes being made too soon, which could dilute your identity. Tone of voice for your website Always keep your brand front of mind when creating and using your website. The key with websites is to keep it simple: keep wording concise, get to the point as quickly as possible. You don’t have much time to grab attention. Decide your overall website goals and work down from that. It’s much easier to establish a tone of voice when you know what you want the website to achieve. Speak directly to your audience. If you use complex words and phrases then you risk putting a lot of people off. Don’t confuse users with technical jargon; speak to your audience with personality, not perplexity. When writing new blog posts, ensure the tone of voice is kept the same, whether you have chosen a relaxed style or something a little more formal. Consistency is key. Social media The tone of voice that is created as part of the brand guidelines, and used in all advertising and web design, needs to flow across all social media and general media communication. It’s wise to create a social media strategy before starting, and looking and listening to other companies and customers before posting. Then this strategy should list the types of posts you are creating, the key messages you want to promote and what you hope to gain from each post, be it a drive to site, a key product promotion or straightforward brand promotion. As a new business you may be working alone, in which case your social media strategy will help you keep focused on your brand as it grows. As you grow, it can ensure consistency, so that if the social media management is taken on by someone else, it still feels the same. Creating and building a brand takes time, but a strong brand benefits everyone – you, your customers, your business partners, your employees. So it’s important to get it right and then ensure everyone is using it right. That way all your hard work is remembered, retained and reflected – through all your communications – as your company grows. Expert advice on the business of running a garment decoration company Q&A Julaine Speight is director of First Internet, an award-winning full-service digital marketing agency based in Greater Manchester. Services include website design and development, UX design, SEO, social media management and content marketing.