The Vistaprint Better Calendar Weeks 9 - 12: Building your brand on a budget

In our last round of exercises for doing business better, we focused on how to go about setting “sticky” goals. Of course, what exactly those goals might be depends completely on your priorities as every company is unique. But whatever stage you’re at with your business, there’s one thing that’s always worth paying attention to: your brand.

For some small businesses, “branding” can sound a bit abstract or like something that only global companies like Nike, Virgin or Apple need to think about. But intentional or not, all businesses have a brand identity which can be formed by anything from the look of your marketing materials to the way you answer the phone to customers. Branding isn’t something you decide to start “doing”, your brand already exists and has a life of its own – the difference comes in being conscious of it, so you can shape it in the right way.

When you bring it down to basics, “brand” basically means “personality”. If you think of your business as a person, what would that person’s traits be? Would they be witty and confident, warm and reassuring, or practical and no-nonsense? How would they look, talk and behave? This month, we’re going to help you come to grips with branding, so you can start taking charge of your own. The good news? You can do it yourself, on a budget – and faster than you might expect.

Week 9 – Branding jargon buster

There’s a lot of brand jargon out there, but when you break it down, most of the ideas are common sense. We’ve put together a glossary of branding, to introduce you to some of the terms used to describe the ideas and activities it can involve. Have a read through and think about how it all relates to your own brand, taking notes as you go.

Read our branding glossary

Week 10 – Redefine your brand in 10 steps

Now that you’re more familiar with the concepts of branding, it’s time to start assessing your own brand – that includes the look and feel of your shopfront, packaging or marketing materials, as well as the tone and messaging you use to communicate to customers. We spoke to Samantha Worsey, owner of Southsea Bathing Hut, about her rebranding experience and put together a 10-step process to help your revamp and redefine your brand.

Start your rebrand exercise

Week 11 – Get feedback

The only way to really know if your brand is being perceived the way you want it to or if there are ways you could improve, is to get feedback. There’s a famous saying that your brand is, “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” This week, challenge yourself to get in the room with those people by asking them to give you honest feedback, whether it’s about the look of your shop or office, your logo or your marketing materials. Think about your business values and the key message or “elevator pitch” you defined in the rebrand exercise – and ask people if you’re getting it right or there’s something that could be better.

Week 12 – Take your brand on show

OK, so you’ve done some groundwork on your brand and maybe have some ideas about things you could do to make it even stronger. Another great way to put your brand to the test is to think about attending an event where you could attract new customers. That might sound like a bit of a jump, but don’t worry – we’ve got some helpful advice on branding for events, as well as a guide to help you prepare and make the most of trade fairs and exhibitions. Do some research about events that could be good for your business, whether it’s a farmers’ market, a craft fair or an industry expo, then start preparing to put your brand out there with confidence

Learn how to prepare for a successful trade show

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