The Complete Step-By-Step Guide to Branding Your Business
Here are the specific order of steps you need to know before getting a logo, business cards, or website designed for your business.
8 Important Steps To An Epic Brand
Use the links below to quickly jump to a section.
Before You Decide On A Name..
Note: if you already have a name for your business and it's in use, then you can skip this section.
However, it wouldn't be the first time my clients have changed their business name after learning some of the important points we'll talk about here. Let's dig in..
First, check to see if your website URL is available.
Nothin' like discovering a few years into your business that someone else already registered it. However, you can check this right now!
Type in your desired website URL (this is called a domain name) and hit SEARCH.
IF YOUR DOMAIN NAME IS AVAILABLE:
Excellent news! You should register your domain name now already, even if you don't plan on getting a website built any time soon.
How do you register a domain name? Here's a couple options:
- Any domain name registering service, such as:
- Some of our Design Packages come with a free forever domain name. (More on this later)
IF YOUR DOMAIN NAME IS NOT AVAILABLE:
Don't panic my friend, it wouldn't be the first time. Here's a couple options:
Consider adding an extra word to it so it is clearly different than the one already taken.
• steadfastconcrete.com becomes steadfastconcreteworks.com
• eagleroofing.com becomes eagleroofingtexas.com
• devonsdecks.com becomes devonsdeckandrailing.com
Consider abbreviating some words, if possible, to make it clearly different:
• deltaconstruction.com becomes deltaconst.com
• maverickplumbingandheating.com becomes maverickph.com
• bosslawncarenewyork.com becomes bosslawncarenyc.com
Next, make sure the social media accounts are available.
Even if you don’t plan to use all of them, it’s a good idea to create accounts on all popular social media platforms before someone else does.
Ideally, all your accounts should have the same username, such as @boomtownplumbing
Here are a few common platforms you should quick grab:
For Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, the username you choose becomes part of the URL, such as www.instagram.com/boomtownplumbing/
For Facebook, however, you need to complete a few extra steps so your username is included in the URL instead of a string of random characters.
HOW TO CREATE A CUSTOM USERNAME (VANITY URL) FOR FACEBOOK:
- Make sure you’re signed into your regular Facebook account.
- Go to facebook.com/pages/create
- Go through the steps, adding a few photos, a description, and a temporary profile image. You will replace this with your logo later.
- Click Create Page @username from the left side of your page, under your profile picture.
- Enter your new username (to match your other social media usernames) and click Create Username.
Now a single username can be added next to a list of social media icons on your business cards, other printed items, and website. Super clean and super simple!
If All Else Fails
IF NONE OF THESE OPTIONS WORK FOR YOUR BUSINESS NAME, NOW IS THE TIME TO CHANGE!
Look at it as an opportunity to create a business name that is 100% original and won't be confused with any other business.
And you get to own the perfect domain name and social media usernames.
Only once you get your business name nailed down should you start thinking about a logo.
Get A Professional Logo Designed
Now that you're confident in your business name, you can go ahead with getting a logo created. However, there are certain things that set some logos apart from others.
Six Things That Make A Logo Professional:
- The logo text should be BOLD. This gives it more weight and authority. Thin text looks unconfident.
- It should look good at ANY SIZE. Logos today are used in tiny social media profile pics and other online applications.
- A useful (but not necessary) feature is a STANDALONE ICON. This can be used in place of the logo in tiny areas. It's also a subtle element you can add anywhere.
- Some logos can have ALTERNATIVE LAYOUTS. This is useful because there are so many different areas that logos get placed.
- It should use a defined COLOR PALETTE. These official brand colors should be used throughout your branding and you shouldn't have more than 2 or 3 colors total. Less is more, trust me...
- It should still make sense when used in ONE COLOR. Examples would be black & white print or white vinyl on a vehicle window.
You should also use the SAME FONTS throughout your branding. Your logo doesn't have to use the same font as your headlines (and in most cases, shouldn't).
Your Brand Identity
All of these things come together as a consistent visual system we call a Brand Identity.
Your Brand Identity is what creates the look and feel of your business.
Your Brand Identity should be clearly defined in a Brand Style Guide. Here is one we created for an excavation company.
Here are the psychological effects that a well designed brand has on your customer's minds:
- Personality - Your brand should look and feel a certain way so your target customers can relate.
- Competence - People can see you're a serious business and you're not just pretending to be.
- Trust - Your brand's personality and competence build trust in your business and services.
- Recall - Your logo and brand colors are easily recognizable when they see your vehicle decals, signs, social media, and website.
- Loyalty - They fall in love with you. Seriously. Think about your own loyalty to iPhone or Android, Apple or Windows, Chevrolet or Ford, Bosch or DeWalt...
How Do You Get A Brand Identity Created?
There's a million options out there. Here's a couple:
- Hire a graphic design agency. They have the resources and manpower to do it right. This also comes with a lot of extra overhead cost. I know this. I used to work for one.
- Hire a freelancer. This is much more affordable, but you should be prepared to manage them, making sure they understand exactly what you want done.
- Check out our Brand Identity Package. We have a system that makes everything easy and straightforward for you.
Once you have your logo created you can move on to setting up your business email address and getting your business cards made.
But before you get ahead of yourself, here's a vexing conundrum that I run into with my clients all the time:
You don't want to get a website built yet, but you want to get all your business cards made so you can start handing them out. Do you add the URL to the cards or not???
Please. Sit back down and don't panic. There is a solution!
The Website URL & Business Card Conundrum
Here's a question you should ask yourself when it comes time to get business cards made: do you plan to have a website built at some point in the future?
If you plan on growing your business, your answer should be YES.
But what if you can't afford a website at the moment? Do you leave the website URL off the business cards?
And later when you get a website built, what do you do about all those cards you handed out with no URL on them? And what if you still have a couple hundred cards to hand out?!
And to top it all off, now you have to print all new cards that include your URL.
This is a bit of a conundrum, isn't it...
Good news: I'm going to show you how you can have your cake and eat it too.
What you need is a "Website Coming Soon" web page.
What Is A Coming Soon Page?
This is a super simple web page that your website URL is connected to. Here's what you need to know:
- It is a simple page that is easy and affordable to create.
- It doesn't have to literally say "website coming soon" but can have a more useful heading like "New Construction & Renos in Staton, Texas" (It should still say "website coming soon" somewhere on the page so viewers don't assume this is your finished website).
- It should be designed using your brand identity, including your logo and brand colors.
- It should have a Contact form connected to your email.
- It can have links to your social media.
The Purpose Of A Coming Soon Page
They are affordable to create. Once your Coming Soon page is up and active, you can get your business cards printed with your website URL included in the design, exactly as if you had a full website.
Now you can hand out as many cards as you want, knowing that anyone who looks up your website URL will be greeted with a nicely designed web page that briefly explains what you do, and has the words "Website Coming Soon" somewhere obvious in it.
This helps them understand that this is not yet your full site, and also shows them that you are serious about your new business and plan on growing bigger.
Your Coming Soon page can be active for months or even years while you work on your business, and when the time is right you can get your full website built.
How To Get A Coming Soon Page Built
Every web page and website needs to be HOSTED. Hosting means you pay a monthly fee to a hosting provider to keep your web page up and active.
How much does this cost? It depends...
- For hosting only, most plans cost between $20-$30/month. Note: They all try to entice you with the $5 basic plan but will upsell you with privacy protection and cyber security, both of which you need.
- You will still need to hire someone to create the actual Coming Soon page itself. This depends on the skills of your designer and what they offer for services.
- Any web page in the Internet needs the code to be UPDATED from time to time so it's not vulnerable to hackers. Some designers and agencies provide ongoing support for website maintenance.
Free Coming Soon Page???
As a former carpenter and small construction business owner, I understand the hesitation to commit to monthly payments on web hosting when you don't even have a full website yet. I get it.
I also know how daunting it is to hire graphic designers and web developers to do all the technical stuff while not being entirely sure what they're doing or what you're getting. Been there too.
Now that I'm the guy workin' the keyboard and mouse instead of the hammer and air nailer, I have put a lot of thought into what I can do to help my former self start a business.
This was the inspiration behind our most unique Design Package, which offers a brand identity and business cards, plus three important things:
1. Free domain name (website URL)
2. Free business email
3. Free Coming Soon web page
You only pay for a small setup fee, which is a one-time charge, and we'll host your Coming Soon page on our own servers for as long as it take for you to get your business up and running.
If you're starting a business and trying to get ahead in life, I remember those days and I've walked those miles in your shoes.
I got you.
No matter who you hire, you need to get your domain name registered and business email set up before you get your business cards made.
To register your domain name:
- Use an online service such as Bluehost.com, Hover.com, Namecheap.com, etc, or
- Design Package 3 and Design Package 4 both include a free domain name.
To set up your business email, read on to the next step.
Set Up Your Business Email Address
What Is A Business Email Address?
If your domain name is rebelfabrication.com, your business email could be firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY WOULD YOU BOTHER?
- If you already registered your domain name, you may as well make use of it. Depending what service you used, they typically provide very affordable email hosting.
- It's much more professional than a free email address such as gmail. You're a business owner now. Act like it. 🙂
How Do I Create A Business Email Address?
You have several options, depending on what stage you're at.
- If you already registered your domain name, the service provider should have documentation that will show you how to log into your account, purchase, and create the email addresses yourself. Some will offer chat or email support for getting this done.
- Ask your designer to help. This depends entirely on how technical your designer is, and what all they offer for services.
- We offer a free domain name and free business emails in some of our Design Packages and charge a small, one-time fee to set everything up.
Once you've got your business email address created, you will want to add it to your desktop email application, and to your email app on your smartphone.
Adding Your Email To Your Computer & Smartphone
Your newly created business email address will have these settings:
• Incoming server hostname
• Outgoing server hostname
• Port #
Here are the instructions to add your new email account to your computer and smartphone::
- New account - Outlook on Windows
- New account - Apple Mail on Mac
- New account - iPhone
- New account - Android
Next, you will want to add an email signature that is automatically placed at the bottom of each email. Now you're cookin' with gasoline...
Creating An Email Signature
The exact steps are different for each email application. Here are the two most popular ones:
Smartphones: To quickly add the exact same signature from your computer to your smartphone, follow these steps:
- From your computer, send an email to yourself containing the signature.
- On your phone, open the email and press & hold on the signature to select it, and then press Copy.
- Go to your signature setting in your email app settings and paste your signature.
Now that you've got your domain name, business email and Coming Soon page set up BEFORE you got your business cards made, you can confidently add these items to your card design, knowing that they are already set up and working..
You're already miles ahead of a lot of other small business owners.
Now let's go get them card made...
Get Your Business Cards Made
First off, what are your goals for your business cards? When you hand them out, what is it that you want the prospective customer to do?
Let's dig into this a little deeper...
What Is The Purpose Of Business Cards
Obviously it is a way of giving them your contact info so they can phone or email you later at their convenience. Here's what your cards should include:
• Your name
• Your position (owner, founder, etc.)
• Phone number
• Business email address
• Website URL
• Social media & username
• Your logo
• Brief list of services
• Your tagline, if you have one
However, there's more going on under the hood than you might think. Handing a business card to someone accomplishes three things:
- It immediately shows them that you're a serious business. Anyone can make big words with their mouth, but handing them a professionally designed business card is proof that you own a business and you mean what you say.
- It is a physical object that they can keep as a reminder of your services. And if that card is high quality with an impressive design, they'll be hesitant to throw it away. Instead, they'll keep it somewhere on their desk.
- It ultimately directs them to your website. Your website is where you get to explain your services in great detail, with plenty of images worth thousands of words. If you've got a Coming Soon page at the moment, they'll know to check back later.
With this in mind, let's talk about business card design...
What Makes A Memorable Business Card
Here's how you can make sure your cards stand out from all the other cards your customer has been given:
Your logo, brand colors, and fonts should all be used in the design. It's all part of your visual brand identity system so your cards match your website, vehicle decals, signs, and any other branded items.
One side of your card should be strikingly different from the other. Each time they turn it over it's a fresh new look. This is one simple difference between bland or brilliant card design.
Add a subtle & classy effect with a ghosted background image. Sometimes it's the little things that set your design apart from others.
An extra thick business card is a million miles ahead of any thinner card. A thick card feels luxurious and expensive (its not that much more money) and a paper thin card feels cheap and gives a poor first impression of your business. If you cheaped out on the cards, what is your service like?
A matte finish on your cards makes then feel velvety-smooth and luxurious. It doesn't cost that much more and makes a big difference in perceived quality.
Getting Your Business Cards Printed
You've got a lot of options. Here's some of them:
- Your local print shop. Some print shops have lots of options for paper thicknesses and surface textures, and some only offer basic features.
- Upload your design files to an online print service. They usually have forms you fill out to select thickness, material type, and many other options for finishes, special features, etc. Your designer may be able to help you with this.
We have Design Packages that include business cards. We can design your business cards, print them, and offer free shipping to anywhere in North America. Our cards are 22pt thick with a velvety-smooth finish. Dressed to impress.
While your cards are being printed, you can create a Google Business Profile so potential customers can find you online, even if you don't yet have a website.
Create A Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles are completely free to create and use. They appear as search results in a Google search and on Google Maps.
Here's how you create a profile:
- Go to business.google.create
- Enter your business address. This is so Google can verify that your business exists. You can have this visible to the public or hidden.
- Enter your business name. Make sure to use Title Case.
- Choose whether you’re a Storefront or Service Provider. If you don’t have an office where customers can visit in person, you can choose a mile radius for your services, or specify a state, or a group of zip codes.
- Choose you business category. This helps Google to know where and when your business should show up in a customer’s search.
- Add your phone number. This will be connected to that handy little Phone Icon on your listing.
- Add your website, even if it’s your Coming Soon page. This shows people that you are planning to grow bigger and gives you authority.
- Verify your local listing. Google will send a physical postcard to your address to verify that you are a real business. This will take a couple days.
- Finish filling out your Google Business profile by adding your logo, photos of your work, and any other information you think will be help your potential customers find and contact you.
Thats it! You're all set up and ready to rock.
You've got your:
• Logo & brand identity
• Domain name (website URL)
• Business email address
• Coming Soon page
• Business cards
• Google Business profile
Start handing out them cards and building up that business!
You can get your website built whenever you're ready.
Get An Effective Website Built
So it's time to level up. Let's dig into what exactly a website does for your business.
Why Have A Website?
Maybe you've always intended to have a website for your business from the beginning, or maybe you've only recently begun to consider getting one built.
Many people know they want one, but they can't really explain exactly WHY they want one. They just know it's good for business. They would be 100% correct.
Here are some of the main reasons you should get a website built:
PROOF YOU'RE A LEGITIMATE BUSINESS
When your customers see that website URL on your business cards, vehicle decals, signs, flyers, and other branded items, they know right away that you are a legitimate business.
There's a couple reasons for this:
- It's psychological. There is something genuinely prestigious about a website for a business. The fact that you have one instantly lifts you several notches higher in the eyes of your customer.
- It's a sign you're competent. Websites cost money and take time to build. If you have one for your business it shows that you are successful and obviously competent at what you do.
- It shows you're serious. Many people start businesses that are merely half thought out ideas that only last a few months. If you have a website it means you're all in and intend to provide the best service to prove it. Dang rights.
Now lets get into some of the practical reasons for having a website.
THE 24/7 CONVERSATION
Imagine if you could invite your potential customers into your living room...
You could explain what you can do for them in detail, listing every service you offer, and tell them about what you've already done for other people who were in the same situation as them.
Now that's a conversation worth having...
That's what your website does on your behalf, while working for you 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. Never takes a day off and never complains. Hot dang...
SHOWCASE YOUR BUSINESS
Here are the kinds of explanations you will want to go into on your website:
- Your services. List each one out with a detailed explanation for each.
- Previous work & projects. If your business has finished projects, explain what you did for each one.
- About you. Tell your story and why you started your business.
PHOTOS ARE WORTH A 1000 WORDS
Showcase your best work with lots of photos.
- Before & after shots.
- Close ups of fine details.
- Wide angle shots of the whole project.
Just use your smartphone. Cameras on phones have come a long way and are more than enough to get the job done. Photos can be edited to look professional.
How Your Website Flows
Your website ultimately has one purpose: to inspire your customers to contact you.
With this in mind, you should have a Contact button that links to your Contact form on the bottom of every page.
Your visitors flow through your website might look like this:
- Home page - The first thing they want to know is what you can do for them, so they click on your Services link. >>>
- Services page - After learning about what exactly you offer, they want to see proof of what you've done so they click on your Projects link. >>>
- Projects page - They find themselves pretty impressed by your finished work, and now they want to know more about who you are so they click on your About Us link. >>>
- About Us page - They like your work and they like your story. They decide to contact you and ask more questions before getting a quote. They click one of your Contact buttons. >>>
- Contact page - They've got options. They can fill out the Contact form or phone you. You might even have a physical address where they can drive to.
Now you're in business, my friend.
We built a website just as described here for this construction business.
It Should Look Great On Mobile
All this action can happen on your customer's smartphone just as well as their desktop computer.
Statistics show that over 60% of Internet searches are done on mobile devices. Welcome to the mobile information age. Smoke signals no longer needed.
Not too long ago you had to zoom in on a website to read it on your phone, but now any modern website should be designed to reconfigure its layout to fit smaller screens. Here's how it works:
- Text remains at a large, readable size, and flows into tall paragraphs that fit on your phone screen for easy reading.
- Everything flows to stack on top of each other vertically. This makes the whole website easy to view on a narrow screen without zooming in.
Your website should just as good on your customer's smartphones as it does on their computers.
How Do I Get A Website Built?
Many people can make you a great logo, but it takes more knowledge and experience to make a great website. Here's a couple option:
- Hire a web design agency. They have teams of web developers that will get the job done right, but depending what sort of work they usually do, they may be overqualified for what you need. For example they may be used to building extensive eCommerce systems and other feature-heavy websites. Make sure you shop around and ask for prices.
- Hire a freelance web designer. This is usually a much more affordable option. However, the quality of work can vary quite widely depending on the experience of the freelancer. Some will understand what you need and some will require close management. Make sure you look through their portfolios of previous work while keeping in mind the important principles you learned here.
- Check out the Website Design Package. Here's how it works: you get your own personal Dashboard where you fill out our carefully-crafted Website Questionnaire and upload all your photos. Your website will be built using your Brand Identity and will be designed to appeal to your specific customers. And of course this includes a free domain name and free business email. We got you covered.
Get Ready To Rock...
Once you have your website built, your customers can start finding you online. Here's where your web traffic will come from:
- The website URL on your business cards.
- The website URL on your road signs & vehicle decals.
- Searches done on Google Search & Google Maps.
Get out there and conquer. There's no stopping you now, my friend...
Get Out There And Conquer
I wanna see you go hard...
Many businesses fail because they aren't planned out and organized, but not yours. Your brand is gonna look great, you're gonna look professional, and you'll be set up set up for future growth and a website.
Here are some things you can start doing today...
Be interested in other people's lives. It's not mixing business with pleasure to ask them what they do for a living. Some people have fascinating stories about building their own businesses, and often return the favour by asking you what you do.
If they can't use your services, they might know someone who does.
Hand Out Business Cards
Always keep them on hand. In your vehicle, in your favorite jacket, in your wallet. You never know when you might bump into someone who is genuinely interested in what you do.
You can get a metal business card holder that prevents them from getting bent or damaged.
Take Lots of Photos
Depending what business you're in, photos can be worth thousands of words. Just use your smartphone to take daily photos of:
• Finished work and projects
• Progress shots
• Close ups of details
• Everyday life
Someday all those photos will go on your website. So many of my clients have hardly any photos when they get me to create their site. You're ahead of the game.
Post on your Social Media
It's not hard and it's free! You're telling the story of your business and your journey.
• On Instagram, use hashtags.
• Tag customers & businesses.
• Tell your story
Here's a short sample of the many books that have had a profound impact on my business and myself as a man.
- The E-Myth (Revisited) by Michael E Gerber - If you're only gonna read one book, read this one. This author explains the concept of creating easy-to-follow systems of working so you don't have to hire only exceptionally talented people in order to grow your business. Smart.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey - Prioritize your life and focus only on the stuff that matters. Take responsibility for what's in your control and don't think like a victim. How to effectively deal with other people in business and the world in general. Life changing.
- Radical Candor by Kim Scott - Learn how to be a kick-ass boss. Be honest, blunt, and inspiring. Radical candor is that sweet spot between being obnoxiously aggressive and ruinously empathetic towards your employees. You're gonna need this someday.
- Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre - Absolutely nothing to do with business. The story of how the British SAS formed during World War II and changed the nature of warfare. The men who volunteered for this unit were called "The Desert Rats" and had all the bravery, recklessness, thirst for adventure, and respect for their opponents that is missing from the world today. One hell of a book.
Hit Me Up
If you wanna start a business, I wanna hear about it...
My name is Clark Aaron and I'm a carpenter-turned-graphic designer.
I help other guys get their new businesses off the ground. Let me help you with yours.