Yes. But before we dive into the details, let’s back up and look at the big picture…
Because of the ongoing nature of “brand building” it is easy to get overwhelmed fast. If you’re like most small business owners, you don’t know where to start, what to do next, how much to invest, when you’re finished, or if it is even working. Before you know it, it feels like you’re pouring money into a black hole with no end in sight. But that doesn’t have to be you. There is a better way to build your brand.
A good branding company will cut the clutter, map a plan, set a timeline, help establish a budget, and measure results so you can see meaningful progress (and results) every step of the way. They’ll provide a framework that lifts the fog and helps you see the path to a brand you’re truly proud of. They’ll also help you understand the difference between building and maintaining your brand. While maintaining your brand is an ongoing effort that spans the life of your company, building your brand can be done in as little as one year – if you’re focused and ready to invest in building your brand the right way.
While every small business is different, here’s a rough timeline that will build a solid brand for most small businesses inside of one year.
Step 1: Design your logo. (1 month)
You’ll want to start with putting a face (or visual identity) to your small business. Most notably, this includes your logo design. Some other pieces of your visual identity include your brand fonts, color swatches, and design guidelines. Starting here helps ensure your brand is visually consistent from day one – which is key for building brand recognition.
Step 2: Launch your website. (2 months)
This is a biggie. Your website is so much more than a weekend DIY project on Wix.com. When building your website, you’ll want to account for things like the local business landscape, industry considerations, your market positioning, target keywords, optimized page URLs, business messaging, user journeys, your call(s) to action, a structured sitemap, SEO setup, Google Analytics integration, and more. For most small businesses, it takes a small team of people a couple of months to build your website well.
TIP: Cutting corners on your small business website can sabotage your brand-building efforts for years to come. It is worth investing the time and money to get your website right before you invest in any marketing.
Step 3: Make your website attractive to Google. (3 months)
Once your website is up, the next step is to help people find it with search engine optimization or SEO. There is an entire industry around the world of SEO. We could bore you with the details of what SEO is like optimizing your page titles, H1 and H2 headings, meta data, alt text, schema markup – and so on. But for today’s purposes, we’ll just reiterate that SEO is the art and science of making your website attractive to Google so people can find it.
TIP: Because SEO is both highly technical and highly invisible work, it is important to find a team you trust. Unfortunately, the industry is ripe with discount SEO companies who leverage black hat SEO tactics to show fake results that leave you, the business owner, with a mess of Google penalties to sort through. These penalties can set your website back in search rankings for years. Other discount providers may be well-intentioned, but simply not have the technical expertise to help you see a good return on your investment. Anyone promising overnight results and/or rock-bottom pricing will likely end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
Step 4: Hang your online shingle. (3 months)
This is really part two of your SEO. Some people call this “off-site SEO” because it is the part of SEO that takes place off your website. Once your website is optimized for search engines, you’ll want to optimize the rest of your online presence to help grow your brand awareness. Depending on your business, some tools we may suggest include a Google My Business listing, a business Facebook page, an Instagram account, a Yelp listing, press releases, and submissions to local, national, or industry directories. While this is labor-intensive work, once it’s done it’s done – so it’s worth doing right.
Step 5: Start talking to people. (3 months)
You have a great looking brand, you have a website loved by people and Google alike, and you have listed your business in all the right places – now you’re ready to start talking to people. Depending on your target market, the way your business communicates will vary. Some common ways to give your small business a voice include social media, a blog, videos, branded downloads, print materials, and more. While your means of communication will no-doubt vary throughout the life of your business, the important thing is to make sure you’re always meeting your clients where they are and talking to them about things they care about. It’s that simple.
Congratulations, you have just built your brand in a year! The hard work is done and your big-ticket costs are behind you.
Now you’re ready to shift into maintenance mode. This is where you put measures in place to proactively manage your brand and continue talking to people to grow your brand awareness.
Where could your small business brand be one year from now? If you’re ready to start the conversation about building your brand the right way, contact us.