A humble little action-packed guide on Branding & Design from MFDC (Mat Faint Design Co.).
There’s no shortage of incredibly detailed articles telling business owners what they “must do” to get their business in front of the right eyeballs.
Every business is different.
The volume, frequency and type of work we need to sustain and grow differs from business to business.
The nature of our clients differs.
And what motivates business owners differs. (We don’t all want to be working 80 hour weeks managing a staff of thousands.)
Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building, branding and marketing your business.
In very basic and broad terms, the three ingredients you need to sustainably build your business are:
Do great work,
Look the part, and
01. Do Great Work
Look, I reckon you’ve probably already got this bit sorted.
You and your staff show up each and every day to do your best work.
You get along well with your clients and you’ve got a good set of tried and tested processes to make life easy for you and your staff.
Your dedication to delivering high-quality products and services reaps dividends in the form of positive word-of-mouth and the abundance of new and repeat business that comes along with it.
That said, we could all do with a bit of a productive navel-gaze from time to time, so here are three things you could think about to keep your ship sailing in the right direction.
01. A: Spruce Up Your Procedures
Are there some processes you’ve not perfected yet? Take a bit of time to work out the best way to approach them. Jot down your process. Save it somewhere safe and share it with your team so that quality and efficiency is standardised across the board.
01. B: Seek Feedback
Ask your staff how you can help make life easier for them. There may be confusion on the factory floor about some of your processes or ways of doing business. If everyone’s approaching these tasks in a different way, the quality of work or customer service will fluctuate. Give staff the freedom to share their thoughts without judgement and you’ll be able to discover plenty of opportunities for improvement.
01. C: What Do You Want To Get Better At?
When we’re in the thick of the working year, some of our growth targets can fall by the wayside as we concentrate on delivering for our clients. Are there products or services you want to improve or do more of? Take a minute or two to think about the type of work you want to focus on and think about the clients that might be in the market for it.
02. Look The Part
Customers judge the quality of your business within 90 seconds of seeing your branding for the first time.
It’s a harsh way to measure the quality of your work, but given the complexity required to accurately define quality, consumers have little more than aesthetics to rely on when assessing a business prior to purchase.
The good news is that there’s a wide spectrum of what we consider to look ‘good’.
A unique and memorable logo that elevates and personifies your business is a great start, but it’s also important to make sure your colours, fonts, marketing layouts and documents have a strong thread of consistency running through them so that you can really hammer home your brand and build-up a solid and memorable picture in the minds of your recurring and potential customers.
02. A: Do An Audit Of Your Brand Materials
Most small businesses, mine included, generally start out with a cobbled together piecemeal brand. You get your nephew’s mate to knock you up a logo in Paint and you get by using the standard report template in MSWord. Take half an hour to take a good look at a few of your documents. Are they a good reflection of your business and the quality of your work? Do they look like they belong together? Are your colours and fonts consistent?
02. B: Tidy Up
Take a bit of time to decide what documents and materials need a spruce up. Do you want to tackle it yourself by deciding on a specific colour palette and font suite and roll them out across your existing templates? Or do you want to get a designer in to take that off your plate, cast a fresh eye over everything and come up with a show-stopping freshen up for your brand?
02. C: Get Everyone On The Same Page
One of the toughest tasks to tackle when making a lasting impression as a business is getting all your staff on board. Make it easy for your staff to use the correct colours and fonts by setting up easy-to-use templates for them.
03. Tell People
A lot of us are not natural salespeople. We know we do great work but telling everyone about it doesn’t come naturally and can feel a little uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, new customers need to actually know you exist in order to purchase your products and services and the more you put your brand in front of people, the more likely you’ll be top-of-mind when potential customers are ready to purchase.
There are many different avenues to getting your brand in front of people. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are an obvious one for retailers, tradies and anyone trading in visually impressive services, but it is by no means the only place to be.
LinkedIn is great for sharing your niche wisdom with a targeted audience of potential clients, and email newsletters and blog posts are great ways to provide interesting information for clients and then direct them to ways in which they can engage your services.
Getting in front of people might feel uncomfortable to start off with, but each time you do, you plant the seed for future business and word-of-mouth.
03. A: Make A Realistic Marketing Plan
If you’ve not invested much in marketing before, it’s most likely because you haven’t had the time to address it. In that case, don’t try and go from 0 to 100. Get your calendar out (see further on in this little doc) and jot down some ideas for your first few pieces of marketing outreach and give yourself an achievable timeframe.
03. B: What Do You Want To Say And How Do You Want To Say It?
Take some time to write a list of interesting topics you could address in your marketing and come up with a few design templates so that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time you want to reach your audience.
03. B: Embrace Discomfort and Ignore the Likes
Aside from a lack of time and resources, the discomfort that comes with being judged or assessed on social media is a large hurdle for many business owners to overcome. Like in life, social media is not a meritocracy. Likes and follows do not accurately reflect how good your work is. In the first few weeks while you’re dipping your toes in the water, ignore the likes. Keep pushing through and go through the motions. It will get easier, you’ll start to see your engagement increase and you’ll start hearing customers tell you how they “saw your stuff on Instagram and thought I’d drop you a line.”
Fancy a little more info? Download this extended branding primer here, complete with a branding checklist and a worksheet to help you kickstart your marketing:
Mat Faint is a Sydney-based illustrator and graphic designer.
He’s worked with a wide array of clients, both large and small, from small consulting firms to the likes of Lendlease, Bailey Nelson, Macquarie University, A Kind Of Guise, Courier Magazine and the NSW Government.
He also helped us bring JPL Partners to life by putting together our rebrand and website.
If you fancy having a chat about sprucing up your brand, give Mat a call on +61 434 724 459
Mat Faint Design Co.