When you started your business, you probably scrambled to create a logo, a few business cards, and a handful of flyers. But now you want to grow. It’s time to revamp your brand strategy so that it aligns with the image you want to project.
Many growing businesses struggle with creating appropriate graphics. It’s hard to determine what will work, and small business owners often think that branding and logos are only for bigger companies.
The quality of your graphics can greatly contribute to the development of your business since the packaging of your products, their in-store presentation, or the look and feel of your website are factors that help customers identify your products. This applies to all businesses, regardless of size.
In this article, we offer you ten steps to boost your brand image through graphic design. In the end, you will be able to recreate your branding because you will have determined the values and the messages specific to your company.
The cosmetics brand run by Samantha Worsey in the south of England, Southsea Bathing Hut, has just taken a similar step. We will therefore simply ask her how she approached the different stages.
1. Ask yourself a key question about your business and your products
Why is your business important to you? The answer may seem obvious to you: you would nevertheless be surprised at the number of entrepreneurs who struggle to communicate it clearly.
- Ask yourself this question. Write down all the ideas that come to mind.
- Now ask yourself what are the strengths of your business. Add these points to the list.
- Then put your answers aside for now (you’ll need them a bit later).
2. Observe your competitors
Now focus on your competitors. The next exercise is to establish some facts about your market.
- List the strengths of your competitors. Write down everything that comes to mind.
- Using the list created in Task 1, remove any points that your competitors are better at than you.
- You will get a list of strengths of your business, which make it unique and better than others.
- You can add to this list area where your competitors are currently better, but where you think you have a chance to outperform them by introducing new ideas.
- Put this list aside.
“It is essential to compare yourself to competitors of all sizes, whether they are start-ups or large companies. On the one hand, you’ll find innovative ideas worth exploring, and on the other, lessons to learn from how more established groups communicate effectively with their customers to drive growth. »
3. Research information about your customers
You have to face the truth: not everyone will be interested in your business. However, if you can understand who your customers are, what they like, and why they buy your products, you will have information that will allow you to establish lasting relationships with the people you are targeting.
- Think about what you would like to know about your customers: their age, gender, average income, buying habits, general attitudes, why they buy your products, etc.
- List them and then identify the seven or eight most important elements.
- Prepare a survey made up of simple questions that will allow you to obtain the information highlighted in Point B. A multiple-choice questionnaire is probably the most suitable form for easily collecting the answers.
- Product quality.
- Production conditions (the product is made in France, it is designed according to a certain ethic, etc.).
- Other (Please specify).
- Now you need to ask these questions to customers. You can do this by email, online, or in person.
- Use an online survey tool to create a digital version, then email it to your customers.
- Using the same tool, place a version of this survey on your website for your visitors.
- Ask your questions directly to your customers (individually).
- Once you’ve gathered the survey information, write down key findings of a) who your customers are and b) why they like your products.
- As with the information gathered in the previous steps, set your results aside for now.
“Initially, I wanted everyone to buy our product, but that was too generic,” explains Samantha. “So I chose to talk to clients and do surveys to better understand their way of thinking. “
We were able to find out who our customers were, why, and where they bought our products, which enabled us to refine our communication strategy. »
By discovering that they had disposable income and that they also favored healthy and local products, Samantha was able to better target her customers. Like her, would you be able to determine who your customers are and what attracts them to your products?
4. Find out what people are saying about you
Now that you know what your customers think, you can try to find out what other people think of your business by analyzing press clippings and online comments.
- Collect all the press clippings that have been written about you.
- Use the “News” section of Google to find the articles in which you appear.
- Search your name, company name, and product names on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, other social networks, and recommendation sites to see if you’re mentioned there.
- Using this information, create a list of topics that come up when people talk about you. Again, put this list aside.
5. Establish your company values
You now have information about your business, your competitors, and the sentiment of your customers. Put them into action now: The next activity invites you to create a set of key business values.
- Take the list made in task two and the results found in tasks three and four and use it to write down all the key things about your business. The list (which can vary in length) should contain a mix of why you love your business, why your customers and the general public love it, and what sets you apart from the competition.
- Refine this list now. Select four essential sentiments that accurately describe your business.
- You can be proud of yourself: you have just established your four main values.
6. Create a key message
Your visual identity conveys important information to your customers about your values, so it is crucial that these messages are defined. When Samantha started her business in 2015, she was afraid of missing out on sales, so she didn’t make her message too specific. She quickly backtracked.
- Using the values established in Task 5, write three or four posts about your business. Each message should contain one or two sentences that reflect the values you have established. (The exercise is difficult, so feel free to use Samantha’s example to see how she summed up her values in a succinct message.)
- Once you have crafted these posts, select the best one.
- You can congratulate yourself on the work done. By choosing a message, you have created a quick presentation of your company that belongs only to you. In addition, you also have a ready-to-use message for your graphic approach.
“We wonder if we’re going to miss out on the element that will generate customer support if we don’t communicate every detail of their activity. But this attitude does you a disservice. It is much better to be clear and concise,” she says.
“Now, if I have to quickly introduce my company, I explain that we offer entirely handmade marine cosmetics in small quantities and that we only use natural products that are good for your health. »
Following Samantha’s advice, it’s now time to write an original message to describe your activity. Let’s go to the next step:
7. Collect pictures
So far, you’ve worked to establish what’s important to your brand. The next step is to translate your entire preparation process into a visual identity.
- Go back to the list of main points created at the beginning of Task 5 and Google each term.
- For each term, click on the “Images” tab and save images to create a collection for each of your terms.
- Now use Google to find images related to your competitors, their products, and their communications. Then create another collection.
- Repeat the same process, but this time look for images of products in categories similar to those you produce, and then images of products that are in line with your brand values.
- Gather these four image collections and save them.
8. Find New graphics
After deciding which images to use for your new graphics, you need to take what you’ve learned so far to set the tone to use.
- Similar to the image search in task 7, search Google for your key terms, products in similar categories, or products that align with your brand values.
- Note the types of words used in the promotion of these products and how they are communicated (is the tone fun, formal, friendly, distinguished, professional, or casual?).
“It was important to focus on a direct but friendly tone. However, a notary will opt for a more formal and professional tone. »
9. Gather your work
Mission accomplished! You have just determined your branding strategy. Like Samantha, you now have all the necessary elements to offer another visual aspect to your values and your messages.
Now let’s see how Samantha used the information obtained.
After applying a similar process to her company’s image, Samantha changed her business cards, website, and social media banner ads. In doing so, it created a new brand image: it removed text to adopt a more airy visual identity, favored natural, refined, and luminous decorations, or even incorporated formulations corresponding to the main theme.
In addition, Samantha radically changed the style of her images to center the new identity of her company around her person. Indeed, by comparing herself to larger competitors, Samantha understood that the companies she wanted to emulate placed a premium on their owners. It has therefore adapted its visual identity to reflect this trend.
- The list of your business values.
- Your central message succinctly introduces your company.
- The image bank is created from information collected on your customers and competitors.
- The image bank is linked to information about your tone and style.
10. Get down to creating your graphics
You have created a series of impactful documents to represent your new brand identity. The time has come to think about its graphic aspect.
This brings us to the last task:
- Send your documents to a graphic designer along with your instructions for creating a new image (read our article on the subject to discover 5 tips for working with a graphic designer before starting)
- Use these resources as a starting point for doing the artwork yourself.
- Take back all your images, and remove those that you don’t like and/or that don’t go with your values or your message.
- Repeat the process with the bank of terms defining your tone.
- Repeat steps C and D until you have a core of images and terms that inspire you: go from there to sketch out your new graphic design.