how to brand your business

How to brand your business | The 0.1 Second Rule

How to brand your business is the focus of this small business guide from Deathground. Creating the right story and presentation opens so many doors. But first, a quote from our own branding consultant.

A core product with great branding could outsell a good product with poor branding

Rachel | Deathground’s Head of Branding

What is branding?

Branding is the creation of a distinctive design and voice around a product or service that makes it stand out from it’s competiition. It’s an investment in marketing, it’s an aide to advertising and it is a framework for building practically everything from.

You want to know what your next blog posts should be about? Well, consider your branding and who you are targeting.

You want to know what your next social media images should look like? Easy, consider your branding and it’s focus.

if you think your branding can be left to a free logo maker, you should have complete confidence that you bring the value to that exercise.

how to brand your business
How to brand your business

Why is branding a good investment?

You land on someone’s website, what’s the first thing you notice?

  • Their logo
  • Their colour scheme
  • Their font
  • The layout style

You walk in to a new shop for the first time. What’s the first thing you notice – beyond the staff member/s?

  • Their shopfront
  • Signage
  • Their flooring
  • The furniture
  • The layout style

Every time, it comes down to branding. Branding is the very first impression someone has of your business, and poor or unwelcome branding in an offline retail environment can be the difference as to whether someone makes a bee-line for your front door or not.

Online, it can determine whether someone abandons cart, bounces or feels like your site won’t meet their needs. For those of you who shop somewhere, consider what stores or websites you have a dim view of and why you don’t use them.

This is why branding is so important. It makes your business memorable, it helps people form a first impression, it can generate trust, help your marketing and even inspire your team. Part of knowing how to brand your business, is knowing the why too.

The 3 second rule

Do you know that 3-second rule that you thought only relates to dropped cookies or biscuits? Well, I put it to you, that if you get a negative first impression within 3 seconds of any first visit to a new business, you won’t eat that cookie too.

There’s actually some science behind this according to a feature in Forbes magazine:

…research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to start determining traits like trustworthiness.

Serenity Gibbons | Former Assistant Editor Wall Street Journal for Forbes Magazine

A TENTH OF A SECOND! And it makes sense. At our heart we are primitive beasts and our brains are hard-wired to determine danger. Trustworthiness these days may relate to whether we want to shop somewhere, but that doesn’t mean our brains don’t still determine it.

If your branding sucks – then you are going to fail the first instinct test of the human mind.

This is why branding is one of the best investments you can make. Can you get away with a poor effort and still get the business going?

Of course you can, but that is generally because there is another area you might excel at.

Let’s say you set up a recruitment agency and your branding is not exactly ‘Up to scratch’. If you’re a killer cold caller, then it’s not really going to matter too much initially. It will hurt when it comes to winning inbound appointments and leads, but you can make up for it elsewhere.

If we are talking about consumer goods, selling a business as a service, or running a retail or e-commmerce store, great branding is a variable for success.

This is why cutting corners on design and branding is rarely met with a positive outcome. If you only want to pay £40 for a logo, that mindset is likely to hurt you down the road.

As I said, a well established branding theme, causes you to spend time thinking about your target audience, your messaging, and with that you have a clearer understanding of how to produce other elements in time.

Often small businesses struggle with producing social media posts or blog content. Had they spent time conducting a branding exercise, those other areas become a lot easier to do in house.

Anyway, that’s why I think branding is a good investment. Let’s move on.

How to brand your business the easy (ier) way

When you’re starting out, I suggest everyone do this exercise for developing a brand. It’s the shortcut in understanding how to brand your business.

  1. Work out who your customer is
  2. Consider what other brands those customers use?
  3. What colours, fonts, layout styles do those brands use?
  4. What words do you associate with what you are doing and how you are doing it?

Now you know that stuff, consider your business idea and ask yourself is it going to be minimalist and artistic, loud and exciting, clean and simple, warm and welcoming etc.

Create a branding brief

Create a brief. This includes what you want your brand to invoke in someone’s mind, imagine what you would write down to help a designer.

What colours should they and you avoid?

What fonts?

There are lots of best practises you can learn about here when designing a branding guide:

There are some colours you need to avoid, because they are hard to use on website headers, or they are cheapening. These are things you NEED to consider if you want to master how to brand your business.

You also want to think about logo designs and how they would work as Favicon (That’s the little image that sits in a browser tab), Instagram logo, or on a shop front.

Less is more always. The more you can convey about your brand and what you do in the least amount of detail is key. The human eye and mind are easily distracted. Your logo (which is only one part of branding) should relate to who you are and what you are doing.

An overly complex and hard to read logo, won’t make sense if you are a discount online store for example. If you are looking to set up an e-commerce store that sells contemporary modern homewares, your logo must match that. If your logo looks poorly designed and incongruous to your trendy homewares store, the perception you create is one of an out of date business.

Logo is the first thing most see, and while it is not the only part of your branding, its the majority of it.

Where is the best place to have a logo designed online?

As a business owner that also produces direct to consumer goods, manufacturing is part of my 9-5. This means we are regularly producing new products, with new images and identities. Each of these needs their own branding process.

There is only so much work I can put on my team at once, so I do outsource to some known quantities. A great source you may want to check out is 99Designs. They are a great little business that let you run a competition to find the best design for your needs.

The winner takes the money pot. Literally.

Designs for a good quality logo start around £279 and if you are not entirely happy, you can pull out. Note, competitions that are ‘guaranteeing’ a winner, tend to attract the best talent, and there are some real champions in there. If you’re wondering how to brand your business and are a little short of inspo – they’re a great bet.

(Full disclosure – I have been using them for a couple of years now, and when I recommended them, I thought, hey I’m giving them free promo, I wonder if they have an affiliate scheme. They have and so I signed up. If you click the link, it doesn’t cost you any more, but it rewards us a few pennies to keep the biscuit tin loaded.)

How much does good branding cost?

Great branding can come from a flash of inspiration because you are fortunate enough to have a handle on it yourself. Or like many, you spend time researching your target audience. But expect to invest rather than ‘pay’ for something that will help your business grow.

Seeing it as an investment is another fundamental step in learning how to brand your business ideas.

According to British Logo Design Co, the average UK Start-up spends between £150-£250 on their logo, while slightly more established SMEs may spend between £500 to £750. These are of course averages and big brands can end up spending into the millions.


Because they understand the role a strong logo can have on success.

If you have spent less than any of these sums, you are working at the low end and well below average. Put your next design quote into perspective. And remember, these were logo design quotes, not full branding exercises.

Ultimately, if you want to pay in the tens of dollars or pounds for a logo and have no branding brief, you are asking for more than just a logo, you are asking for an entire corporate identity. It may explain why you get disappointed with the results.

How do I pick the right logo for my business?

The final step in how to brand your business is picking the right one. You’ve got a phone full of suggestions, but you need to make a decision. This is my tried and tested method for finding the one to go with.

Find everyone in your phone who represents the target audience and without loading the dice, simply send them your shortlist and ask:

“Which one stands out best to you and what does it mean?”

That’s it.

Then wait. You can even ask them to pick a few, or rank them. In fact, 99 Designs has a poll feature you can bulk send. This way you get unbiased, straightforward feedback on which to ditch and which to stick with.

Once you have your results in – which invariably will always be different to what you expected, try to take the feedback and improve to create a new shortlist.

Do the same again.

This time you’re finding your winner.

Don’t guess – test.

That is how to brand your business, the easy way.

That’s my work done here,

David at Deathground.

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