How to build a successful brand (even if you’re a sole trader…)

Loads of psychologists have researched brand loyalty to find out why we’ll pick one over another, even if it’s more expensive. The main reasons behind it are emotional - we feel nostalgic about it, we like their style, or we relate to their values.

Branding isn’t just for massive global companies like Apple and Starbucks. You can create those positive feelings about your small business too. Whether you’re in your first year, or you’ve been developing your business for a while, here are some ways to get started.


Know what your ‘thing’ is

Just like people have personalities, so do businesses. You might not have defined what your ‘thing’ is just yet, but it’s there. You’ll find it in the things you focus on, the things you don’t, the language you use, and the look and feel you’ve chosen for your website.

If you’re a designer or a developer, your ‘thing’ might be straight-talking efficiency. You’re great at telling your clients what they need in an uncomplicated way and giving it to them. If you’re a crafts-person and you make your products, your ‘thing’ could be using traditional homemade methods and materials that will last forever.
How to get started right now: Think about what you do that no one else can.


Be consistent!

We’d notice if McDonald’s ditched the golden arches from its packaging, or Innocent smoothies started using really formal, stiff language and stopped making jokes. It wouldn’t look right because it’s not what we’re used to.

Consistency helps people remember as well as trust your business. They’ll understand who you are and what you do, which translates into those important positive feelings. It doesn’t mean you can’t make changes, but your brand personality should influence those changes.
How to get started right now: Do a quick audit of everything you use to represent your business. Does it follow the same design theme? Does it all sound like you? If not, it could do with a change.


Choose a tone of voice

Hex colour codes help you make sure all your shades of red are identical. There isn’t a direct equivalent for language, but a tone of voice is pretty close.

Tone of voice covers what kind of language you use, how you want to sound, and even specifics like how you set out documents and write abbreviations.

It might sound picky, but TOV helps your customers relate to you on a human level. If you’re offering something prestigious and exclusive, you’ll talk to your customers in a very specific way. If you run a service aimed at busy parents, your choice of words should reflect that too.

How to get started right now: What do you want your customers to think and feel when they interact with your business? Make sure your language reflects whatever that is - efficient, casual, formal, friendly, personal...


Get it all down on paper

A set of brand guidelines is a bit like a manual for your business. It will explain what defines your brand, your tone of voice, and your colour palette and design choices.

If you stick to it, your website, social media, and physical branding will stay nice and consistent. You’ll also be able to give it to your staff or anyone you outsource to, and they’ll know exactly what to do with it.

How to get started right now: Start at the beginning. Begin your brand guidelines with a brief explanation of how and why you set up your business. (And don’t leave out the tricky parts and failures, that’s what makes it interesting!)


No business is too small for a brand strategy. Starbucks used to be a single coffee shop with a brown logo, but branding helped it to grow into the massive business we all recognise. These 4 basic branding tips can help you grow too.


Once you’ve got your brand guidelines sorted, Solna can help you make invoicing easy. Create professional invoices in a flash, and send automatic reminders that get you paid faster. Oh, and it’s free!


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