The October issue of Allure magazine had a cool article called “Blissful Thinking”, in which they examined Bliss Spa’s menu. I’ve been a Bliss Spa lover for more than a decade, so it was really fun to take a peek at the marketing magic behind Bliss. What struck me was how Bliss Spa uses distinctive graphics and language to create a rock solid (read: consistent) brand image. Notice:
- The light blue and white color palette that says “fresh and clean”, simple not snobby.
- The different sized bubbles floating around the page that add a pop of fun while furthering the “clean” theme.
- The friendly language that sounds as if your best gal pal is regaling you with stories of her latest trip to Bliss.
- The casual lowercase font that lets you know there’s nothing stuffy or fancy about Bliss – just pure, clean fun.
Small Biz, Big Brand
Bliss Spa does a fantastic job at establishing a clean, clear brand image through visuals and language, and Earnshaw’s Editor in Chief, Caletha Crawford, suggests that small businesses do the same.
“Though brimming with good ideas and innovative solutions, too often vendors in our market fail to present a cohesive message to consumers about who they are and what they’re about. Through a little branding magic, businesses can better capture consumers’ attention and transform the mundane into the magical”, says Crawford. I’d add that a strong brand image can also help you attract the right consumers’ attention.
So how can a small business or “solopreneur” build a strong brand image like the big guys? With visuals and language, of course.
We interrupt this blog post to ask you a few questions…
But first, you have to think about your company and exactly what type of brand image you want to build. Here are a few questions to get you going in the right direction and to help make choosing the right visuals and language easier.
1. What do you want your company to be known for? For example: innovation, trustworthiness, affordability, helpfulness, reliability, exclusivity, fun, stylishness, luxury, education, dependability, etc.
2. Who is your ideal customer?
- Who are they? Men, women, kids, senior citizens, college students, business owners?
- How old are they? What do they look like?
- How much do they earn each year?
- Are they college educated?
- What do they value most? Selection, affordability, quality, name brand, durability, convenience?
- Where else do they shop?
- Where do they “hang out” online? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn?
- What are they searching for on Google that would bring them to your company?
3. When you close your eyes and think about your company, what words, colors and images come to mind? Examples might include:
- Bold, red, bullseye (sounds familiar…)
- Soothing, green and ivory, leaves
- Smart, navy blue, crest
- Feminine, pink and purple, curves
Now that you’ve answered those questions, the fun begins – choosing visuals and language to support your brand image!
- Color Palette – choose a color scheme that goes along with your company’s mission and use it on your website, business card, sales brochure, packaging, Twitter background, email template, Facebook page and letterhead. Childcare providers might use cheerful primary colors while a massage therapist could use shades of soothing green. Supergoop sunscreen’s color scheme includes white, ocean blue and bright, sunny yellow – perfect for a product that’s used to protect skin at the beach or pool.
- Logo - Shannon Whealy summed it up best in her post about logo design.
- Extras – is there something you can add to your visuals like Bliss Spa’s bubbles? Since my products Swaddleaze and Blankeaze were wearable blankets, I used “nighttime” extras like stars and clouds on my press sheet. You might use forks & knives, butterflies, leaves or maybe Celtic scrolls.
- Fonts – use fonts to fortify your brand image in your logo and your sales copy. There are so many to choose from, including feminine, modern, handwritten, scary, thin, vintage and more. Build A Little Biz uses a lowercase, handwritten font that “looks” like what the blog does – teaches people how to build a little business, one step at a time, while Dramatic Fanatic has a fancy, fun font that supports their products, a creative collection of interactive Whodunits that give kids a starring role in their very own mystery. You can find tons of fonts at my favorite font spot, MyFonts.com.
- Imagery – use verbal imagery & descriptions that back up your brand image like Men With Pens does. They use very masculine, striking language to support their brand image and they carry it through the site in all their copy.
- Tone – your tone should sound like you or your company and your ideal customer, whether that means a bit buttoned up like Emily Post or downright casual like Naomi Dunford’s IttyBiz.
- Voice – decide upfront whether you’ll write in the first person or the third person, the singular or the plural and be consistent with your company’s voice throughout your site, your sales copy and your marketing materials. This one can be tricky because many mom entrepreneurs are a one-woman operation but want their company to be seen as competent and professional like multi-employee corporations – do what you’re most comfortable with and what you feel will appeal most to your ideal customer.
Visuals + Language = Strong Brand Image
You can see that having a solid brand image isn’t just for the big guys.
Nope, with a little thought and a lot of consistency, you too can use visuals and language to create a strong brand image for your company, attract your ideal customers and leave a lasting impression on them.
Hop on over to Facebook to let me know what you think about your brand image – is it rock solid or a little shaky?