The Business of Branding: How to Use Blogging to Grow your Business

In today’s tech-savvy world, we turn to Google, Bing or another search engine for our unanswered questions. Often times, considering how you think will lead you down the right road for thinking like your potential customers. So it’s not hard to see why so many businesses are blogging. Blogging is one of the many ways you can give your brand a voice, show that there are people behind your business, and relate to your customers. But these aren’t the only benefits of updating your blog regularly; websites with current blog content also rank higher and gain more traffic than those that don’t. So in today’s The Business of Branding post, we’ll show you how blogging can help grow your business.

  1. Broaden your Customer Base

What small business doesn’t want more customers? The first way blogging can help your business succeed is by growing your customer base. As we mentioned before, so many of us head to our favorite search engine when you want to learn something, and by blogging, you make yourself findable in a search. For example, if you’re the owner of a small pet boutique specializing in holistic pet foods and environmentally-friendly pet toys, you may write about the benefits of feeding your animals a grain-free diet. You could also blog about why a certain toy is better for pets’ teeth than another. However, the key to blogging is to make your content compelling and provide value. Give your readers accurate information that answers their questions. The other trick is to play by the search engines rules and use relevant keywords. This will help search engines find your blog to then provide to your potential customers. In your post, include backlinks to the products you refer to and introduce your readers to your products.

2. Communicate with your Customers

Your business’ blog is also a great place to communicate with your customers. Use your blog as a platform to tell your customers about new products, answer commonly asked questions, and inform them of things happening within your company.  Customers appreciate businesses that are honest and transparent and your blog is a great tool to establish your company as that type of business. When others stumble upon your blog, they’ll be pleased to see this is the type of business you are and more inclined to become a customer.

3. Share your Knowledge

Whether you’re in the restaurant industry, a fashion designer, or a manufacturer of custom logo stamps, you’re educated in your area of expertise. Use your blog as a tool to show the world you’re an expert in your industry. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could write a detailed blog post about the differences between vector and rasterized artwork is. By providing information that isn’t widely known, you’ll show the world that you’re an authority in your industry and make your work more creditable. Your blog is also a great place to share tips, tools and suggestions that your customers will find beneficial.

Just like no two businesses are the same, no two blogs are the same. Your blog should be an accurate representation of your brand, featuring your logo, color scheme, and your company’s overall identity. Successful blogs provide value to their readers, use relevant search terms, and hold content the world will want to share. It’s also very important your blog is visually-appealing, so include photos, infographics and videos whenever possible. Create a blog your current and potential customers will want to visit with content they’ll want to absorb and watch how it will positively impact your business!

Gift Ideas for your New Years Eve Host

How will you be ringing in the New Year this December 31st? If you’ll be celebrating with your family or friends at someone’s house, don’t forget to consider the time and effort that goes into planning a party. From invitations to food and beverages, planning an amazing New Years Eve bash is no easy task. While hosts enjoy having their loved ones around on such an important day and are happy to play the role, be sure show them just how grateful you are with a small gift. We’ve put together a few of our favorite NYE party host gift ideas to make finding the perfect present easy!

If your party host is the foodie of your family or friend group, give them a personalized glass or wooden cutting board. This thoughtful yet practical gift is something they can use on both a daily basis and when entertaining guests.

A custom beer mug is a “thank you” gift your host will be able to use right away. Bring along their favorite beer and pour them a cold one in their new mug just in time for the ball to drop.

Is your New Years Eve host a craft beer enthusiast? If they know the difference between saaz and crystal hops, they definitely are. So what better way to thank them than with a custom beer growler?

Coasters are another great gift that your host can use every time they throw a party or even a small gathering. Whether they love modern, feminine designs, just got hitched, or are an eligible bachelor, there’s a coaster designed with everyone in mind!

Does your host love a good glass of wine or champagne? Choose from a clever, funny saying or personalize it with their initials. When it’s time to cheers at midnight, they’ll sip their champagne from their new favorite glass.

This gift is also great for wine lovers! Choose from a variety of different colors and monogram designs, then pair it with their favorite bottle of wine.

After the ball drops and the new year begins, many of us are working towards our resolutions. No matter how your host defines success, help them reach their goals in the new year with a motivational sign.

A great photograph is a gift that will always be cherished, no matter who your recipient is. If your host is your close friend, give them a custom photo gift of the two of you that will remind them of your cherished friendship, or use one of their beautiful family portraits.

Not only is planning a party often time-consuming, it can also be expensive. No matter what you choose to bring your host, be sure to let them know you appreciate their hard work and your invitation with a thoughtful gift.

Have a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2018!

The Business of Branding: Fundamentals & Branding on a Budget

Ultimately, branding is about creating and maintaining an image. The great news is that this can be done on a budget. The main objective is to stay consistent, all the way from your social media presence to your product presentation and packaging.

Whether you choose a simple yet memorable color scheme and logo that carries over from your online to offline presence, or you have a unique logo that speaks for itself, there are simple ways you can keep your image consistent to achieve the brand identity your business needs.

Today, in our The Business of Branding series, we will discuss five fundamental things you can do to brand your business in an affordable way.

1. Establish an online identity and stay loyal to your color scheme, imagery and diction. When designing your website, even if it is a small, single page website that gives information about your company, remember to adhere to a cohesive color and font scheme, and write in a voice that is true to your brand and culture. Take every small opportunity to make your message and imagery cohesive. Can’t afford a website? Be sure you are present on social media channels that reach your target audience. From creating hashtag campaigns to sending out tweets, there are simple ways to maintain your identity online.

It is key to remember who your target audience is! Use your unique identity and perspective to speak to this audience directly. Don’t get overwhelmed creating your online messaging by trying to reach the wrong audience.

2. Be consistent in your presentation. In today’s digital world, much of your correspondence may begin online, and must be cohesively merged into your real world communication. When it comes to real-life, tangible materials, always remember to incorporate your voice, color scheme, logo and other important elements that are found on your website and social media profiles.

If you’re selling T-Shirts from a brick and mortar shop as well as online, wrap orders in branded tissue paper and bags. If you don’t have the budget to create custom packaging materials for your brand, order a logo stamp. Logo stamps can include not only your logo, but other information including your name, location and website URL.

The objective is to never leave out details that bring customers back to your store or your website. The more a customer comes in contact with your logo, colors and messaging, the more likely they are to remember your brand. This sounds elementary, but when things get busy it’s easy to forget. A cost-effective logo stamp can be used in many ways, from branding your shopping bags to stamping letterhead.

3. Find ways to evolve your brand over time. In order to stay fresh, interesting and ultimately alive, a brand must be able to continue to communicate with its target audience in new ways. There are many fun ways you can keep people interested in what your brand has to say and sell.

From hashtag campaigns to giveaways and contests, social media has made it much more possible for brands to stay versatile. Let’s be honest, people live on their smartphones. Remember this the next time you’re struggling with ideas about how to reach your customer. Find out what your customers care about and build messaging around this.

4. Solve tech issues that may affect your ability to reach your audience online. This sounds complicated, but it can be as simple as making sure your text is in a readable font, or your contest page is view-able on a mobile phone.

Most businesses have a website that is the cornerstone of their communication with customers, so if you do, make sure technical issues like page load times and readability aren’t holding you back. People pay attention to these details, and if they have a bad experience with your web page, they are likely to remember and not return.

5. Be present. Even though people live on their smartphones, they still like to see the faces behind a brand, whenever possible. Make sure you’re in the know about trade shows, concerts, events and other real world opportunities to interface with your target customer. This is a great way to merge online and offline communication as well.

If most of your audience knows your brand online, through Facebook or Instagram, they may revel in the opportunity to engage with you in real life via a pop up shop, contest or meet and greet. On the other hand, real world meet-ups like these are also good for meeting new customers to send to your online experience!

Branding can be overwhelming and oftentimes elusive. When it becomes a struggle to come up with new ideas, or to keep your image recognizable and consistent, it helps to revert back to the fundamentals, like what we’ve discussed in today’s blog. Branding is an ongoing and vital part of business and it includes many aspects.

Fundamentally, however, effective branding involves consistent use of color, fonts, voice, your logo, packaging and presentation, and includes providing real world interaction that merges your online and offline identity. There are ways to reach your customer and stay within your budget!

The Business of Branding: Logo Design Tips & Trends

Your logo speaks volumes about your company, from who you are to what you do, and is arguably one of the most defining elements of your brand. It’s extremely important when developing your brand identity that you design your logo to accurately represent your brand. In the world of design, trends are ever evolving, but there are also many constants you’ll see in strong, successful logos. So today we’ll give you our tips for designing your company’s logo and share the current logo trends for inspiration.

Variation in logos is essential because it shows no two businesses are the same. While seeking inspiration from other brands and identifying elements that reflect how you want your brand to feel is helpful, your logo should be entirely your own. That being said, there are a few things strong logos all have in common.

What do GREAT logos have in common?

First of all, they’re simple. Often times we get excited when designing our logo and want to include as many different design elements as possible, but this can be distracting to potential consumers. Keep it simple by making every design decision with a clear intention. Why do you want your logo to contain three separate colors, or why do you want leaves surrounding your company’s name? If you can’t answer these questions indefinitely, you’ll know they’re unnecessary.

Secondly, powerful logos are always versatile. Keep in mind you’ll be using your logo across different mediums when you’re in the design phase. Your company’s logo should work well on both your website, social media accounts, printed business cards, or company brochures.

Your logo should also be timeless. We sometimes want to design our logo based on what’s trendy, but if your company is as successful as we all hope it will be, you don’t want to design a logo that will be out of style in 10 years.

Most importantly, your logo needs to be memorable. Be sure to design a logo that your customers will be able to easily identify. Make sure it’s unique and is a clear representation of your brand.

What are some of today’s trends in logo design?

Simplification

Over the last few years, companies like Airbnb, MasterCard and even Google have chosen to simplify their logos.  By choosing simpler fonts and color palettes, they’re able to give their logo a look that’s still easily identifiable as their brand, but is more aesthetically pleasing. Complex logos often make consumers lose focus, which is why large corporations are making their logos more clean cut and memorable.

Texture

By adding certain textures to a logo, companies are able to let their brand speak without really say anything at all. There’s an endless number of different textures to add to your logo to make it feel different ways. For example, some companies add texture to their logos to give their brand a rustic or vintage feel.

Geometric Shapes

For years geometry has been used in logos, but the way designers are using it these days is what’s so unique. Whether the logo is made completely of geometry or is the company’s icon, brands are speaking through geometric shapes. If you choose to go this route with your brand, be sure your design makes sense for your brand.

Hand-Sketched Logos

Hand-drawn logos are popular for smaller or more artistic brands. While they’re generally harder to translate to computers than a digital design, they humanize brands, which is extremely important to today’s consumers. If you want to give your company a small-business feel, a sketched logo may be a good option for you, but be sure you make similar decisions when developing the rest of your brand strategy.

Negative Space

Negative space logos are generally used to attract attention. It also gives the brand an opportunity to build meaning within the negative space. These logos are often designed to make consumers think twice.

Cropping

Cropped logos are rooted in the idea that less is more. This approach to design argues that we don’t need to see the entirety of a letter of word to understand what it means.

Designing your logo will likely be one of the most exciting times in developing your brand. Be sure not to rush through the process, hire professional assistance when necessary, and make every decision with a set intention. Once you’ve decided on a final logo for your company, be sure to keep different versions of your logo, like PSD and other vector art files, in a safe place for future promotional use. In our next “The Business of Branding” post, we’ll share ideas for affordably branding your small business!

Learn how to establish your brand voice and position here.

7 Employee Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is quickly approaching! For many industries, that means the busiest time of the year is here and businesses will be  working extra hard to keep up with the demand. Whether your company is hiring seasonal employees or your year-round employees will be working longer hours, it’s important that the hard work and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed.

The holidays are a time to show our gratitude towards those around us, and your employees are no exception. There are many ways to show your employee appreciation, from throwing a holiday party for your whole team to gift giving. Here are some of our favorite business holiday gifts ideas to show your employees just how thankful you are to have them on your team!

1. Business Card Holders

Do your employees go to conferences and other external meetings? Do they enjoy going out and mingling with other professionals? Give your team members something classy to carry around their business cards in! These days, making connections means everything. A personalized business card holder is a great way to help your team members make a powerful first impression.

2. Travel Coffee Mugs

Pretty much everyone loves a good cup of coffee, but we don’t always love when our hot cup turns cold, or iced coffee gets warm. A custom travel coffee mug will give your employees an easy way to bring their coffee into work with them and make sure it stays at their preferred temperature. Personalize the outer sleeve with either your employee’s initials, or make them all uniform by adding the company logo.

 

3. Luggage Tags

Do your employees travel often for work? More and more companies are requiring work travel, and whether your team members take a trip twice a year or every month, you want to make sure their trip goes as smoothly as possible. To help add ease to their travels, give your employees personalized luggage tags so they’ll always be able to quickly identify their bags.

4. Fun Desk Plates

We all love a little desk decor. Our work space is our home-away-from-home, and it’s important we feel comfortable while we’re there. A funny desk plate is a great way to keep gift giving light and fun. We love trendy desk plates here at Holmes Custom, so we’ve got many designs to choose from! Give your team member a desk plate that will make them laugh or keep them motivated.

5. Motivational Signs

Speaking of motivation and decor, our motivational signage is a great way to keep your team members going. Not only will it add a pop of color to their desk or office, it’ll also be a gentle, fun reminder to keep working “like a boss.”

6. Funny Coffee Mugs

There’s a coffee mug for every employee in your office within our collection of fun designs. For the coffee lovers that always seem to have a cup in their hand, order them the “Coffee Before Talkie” or “But First, Coffee” mug. There’s also an option for every Harry Potter-lover, Proud Mom or Dad, and Veteran on your team.

7. Employee Awards

If you’re throwing a holiday party, it’s always a fun idea to involve employee awards. Celebrate anniversaries and reaching sales goals, or come up with a list of funny awards. At Holmes Custom, we’ve got a huge selection of awards to choose ranging in price points and designs.

There are so many fun, creative ways to express your gratitude this holiday season. Be sure you don’t let your appreciation go unnoticed and find the perfect gift for all of your team members at Holmes Custom!

 

The Business of Branding: How to Establish Brand Voice & Position

Have you noticed that the oldest and most established companies change their voice and messaging over time?  In the 1980s, for example, Pepsi’s “The Choice of a New Generation” campaign used Michael Jackson’s iconic music along with other popular culture idioms to attract the ears and eyes of a youthful audience. (As early as 1961 Pepsi branded itself as the cola for “those who think young.”) Through the years, Pepsi Co. successfully positioned itself as the brand for a younger, hipper generation. (This messaging adversely marked Coke as the soda for a more mature demographic.)

This kind of messaging is powerful and it keeps brands growing, thriving and competing with one another. Company branding is fluid and should be intuitive to the voice of its consumer base and a constantly evolving marketplace. As this week’s “The Business of Branding” post, we will focus on creating a brand voice that not only speaks directly to your target customer, but that also stands out amid a sea of competitors.

First, it is helpful to define what brand voice IS NOT. Brand voice is not music, jingles or sound effects. Once you have reached the point of creating your brand voice and position, you ideally have your visual elements in place, including your color palette, imagery, patterns and other cues that draw the eye in and create an aesthetic identity. Your brand voice should work in collaboration with visual elements to build a cohesive, unforgettable message.

Six basic steps to creating a brand voice:

  1. Define your brand’s personality in words. These words should precisely say who you are. They should speak definitively to your target audience. At this point in building your brand, you should have a strong idea of who you’re trying to reach. Are they young, energetic and ready for the latest trends, or are they older, more mature and established in their beliefs? For decades, Pepsi chose to reach out to a youthful audience, while Coke was the “classic” of soft drinks. Start with 3 words that define your brand, and build from there. (Example: Young, bold and energetic, or mature, established and steadfast.)
  2. Stand apart from the competition. Review what your top competitors are doing. What messaging and verbiage are they using to speak to their customer? Once you find out, DON’T copy what they’re doing. Say something unique. What do you offer that your competitor doesn’t? Reflect this uniqueness in your verbiage.
  3. Ask yourself “How does my audience communicate?” Are they sarcastic, funny or formal? Once you understand the way they speak, you can use this to communicate with them.
  4. Use a call to action; don’t be passive in your messaging. Your visual elements and written communication should work in tandem to grab your customer’s attention.
  5. Find a way to engage your audience. No matter how formal your business is, or how serious your products are, you can find a down-to-earth conversational way to engage your target customer. Speak to them. Consider what is important in their daily life, and how your brand can help solve their problem. Don’t be afraid to use humor or even daily annoyances to get on a human level with your customer base.
  6. As mentioned above, don’t feel confined to your brand voice. It can change over time and fluctuate in response your audience’s needs. Pepsi and Coke are 2 of the oldest and most successful commercial brands, and they continue to find ways to engage their customer while competing with one another in the marketplace.

Positioning your Brand and Product:

At this point, you have ideally pinned down the audience you want to speak to and you’ve begun establishing the diction and visual language you will use to reach them. These elements will also help you position your brand in the marketplace. Consider Pepsi and Coke once again. Which is your favorite and why? If you can answer these questions, you can begin to understand your own business’s position. Is your product essential and affordable, or luxurious and uncommon? Only you can answer these questions, but once you do, you’re on your way to a distinct voice and strong position on the market.

Information we found useful in the creation of this post:

http://www.advergize.com/marketing/history-of-pepsi-slogans-connect-generations-years/

http://larsen.com/insights/creating-the-right-brand-voice/

The Business of Branding: Establishing your Company Culture

What is your company culture and how will it affect your business? You can think of your company culture as the personality of your business, from your workplace environment to team values, company-wide goals to overall expectations. Today we’ll be sharing the importance of establishing your company culture and how this internal element and your business’ brand are closely knit together.

When we think of a great company culture, many of us think of the napping nooks at Google or the tuition reimbursement provided by Starbucks. Many businesses understand that by taking care of their employees, they will in turn be loyal to the company and work hard at everything they do. But what many people don’t realize is that a company’s culture and the business’ brand should be integrated. The most powerful branding starts from within. If you have a team full of individuals ready to show the world how great your company is, whether it’s two or 200 people, you’re already a step ahead of your competition.

Now more than ever, consumers are showing their loyalty to companies they can relate to. They want to see the faces behind the business they’re supporting, which is why humanizing your brand and company culture has become so important. While we here at Holmes Custom have grown exponentially over the years, we value our small business status and our team of #Holmies. Our brand and values makes for a natural connection with so many of our customers because they too are either small business owners or a part of a small business team. We’re eager to help equip their small business with the tools they need and chase their dreams.

Once you’ve defined your brand, you have the foundation for your company culture. What do you value as a company and what is your purpose? If you’re an energetic fitness business helping your customers reach their health goals, your culture should be motivational and competitive.

No matter what your company represents, marrying your brand and culture will give you a powerful platform to create a company that’s both cohesive and authentic. Be sure you’re being unique when establishing what you want your company’s culture to be. It’s easy to look at successful corporations and mock their strategies, but if you create a company culture that is unique to your brand, standing apart will be easy.

When building your team, look for candidates that naturally possess the characteristics you want your business to have. If customer service is a top priority, look for friendly, out-going individuals who want to see your customer’s smile. If you’re opening a high-scale bar that serves craft cocktails, search for drink enthusiasts with keen attention to detail. By finding the right team and creating a solid, transparent company culture, you’re giving your employees the tools they need to succeed. By being clear with your company values, your team will never have to guess what is the right decision and will feel empowered to make judgment calls they know you will approve of.

Once your company culture has been established, let it be known. If you work in an office environment, set a small portion of your budget aside to decorate with motivational signs or other decor to represent your culture. Celebrate achievements with your employees, whether it’s with something as simple as an ice cream social or as big as a weekend retreat for the whole team. Be sure to document it in a professional yet fun and engaging way on your company blog or social media accounts. Not only will your customers enjoy seeing the faces that work so hard behind the scenes, your team will also know they’re a valued part of your company’s mission.

In the next “The Business of Branding” post, you can look forward to learning all about establishing your brand voice!

 

 

 

 

The Business of Branding: Small Business Spotlight featuring Grease Rags Clothing Co.

Here at Holmes Custom we are passionate about small business. We often receive orders from small businesses with big goals and even cooler logos! Here in our local Jacksonville community, many small businesses are succeeding and thriving, not through sales alone, but also through relationships with their community and passion for what they do.

As part of our “The Business of Branding Series” we are featuring Grease Rags Clothing Co. for our small business spotlight. We would like to introduce you to Cindy Platt, owner of this inspiring and unique Jacksonville based small business. Cindy has just recovered her shop from damage it underwent during Hurricane Irma and she has just had her grand re-opening!

We are excited to share Cindy’s unique point of view and the trials and successes that inspired her to spread her wings and become a business owner.

Q: When did you start grease rags?

A: Grease Rags Clothing Co. celebrated its 4th year anniversary at the beginning of October.

Q: What encouraged you to open your own retro clothing shop?

A: My prior background was in corporate banking. After completing treatment for Stage 4 oral cancer, I realized a few things. My brain worked a bit differently than before and my priorities had completely changed. No more banking for me, but I had to do something to keep me busy enough on my own terms so I could stop worrying about my health. I always loved the styles but they were difficult to find unless I shopped online.

Q: What keeps you passionate about running your business?

A: There have been moments when owning a business is too taxing on my energy. I still have late effects from my previous treatment and this makes daily life a challenge quite often. In those moments when I think I can’t do it anymore, I think about the community we have built around Grease Rags Clothing Co. I think about all of the good things I can do, such as starting my non-profit organization, to help others.

The shop is a home base for all of these other activities and also a safe place for people to come and decompress from things that are bothering them in their lives. It may sound silly, but this is more than a place to buy a pretty dress and I feel both committed and honored to provide such a place to the community.

Q: What damage did Hurricane Irma do to your business?

A: The storm surge flooded our dress shop and adjoining barbershop. The property owner had a crew down the day after the storm to tear out the damaged drywall, dehumidify the building, and replace the drywall. I believe the quick action saved us from having bigger problems. Luckily, the great majority of our merchandise was not harmed. The little things I initially thought were no big deal have really added up though. Most of our furniture had to be thrown out, we had to rent a commercial floor cleaner to scrub the floors (3 passes on that), replace all of the shop rugs, repaint the floors and walls, buy a new steamer, and more. Even though there has been some significant expense, I chose to look at this as a kind of reboot for the business. The rising water was a kind of forced de-cluttering so we are definitely more organized now too.

Q: What has been most difficult about recovering from Irma damage?

A: The most difficult thing has been trying to keep some sort of business activity going while trying to get the shop squared away. Our online community has done a great job at keeping orders coming in and we did some pop up shops at local businesses such as Steele Hair Gallery, The Volstead, and Hourglass Pub. We greatly appreciate how everyone has gone out of their way to support us and hope we have done a good job at expressing that gratitude.

Q: What has been most rewarding about recovering from Irma?

The most rewarding aspect of this process has been the activities we have participated in to help others. It has been very refreshing to see so many different kinds of people come together for a good cause.

Q: Tell us about your grand reopening!

A: Our Grand Re-Opening was held on Saturday, October 14 from 11 am to 7 pm. We had a huge cake along with refreshments, live music by Redneck Hummus and a sidewalk sale chock full of deals! The turn out was great!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: You can find us all over social media so please feel free to check us out.

Cindy modeling one of her styles

It is the determination of small business owners like Cindy that keeps our team at Holmes Custom passionate about what we do! If you would like to learn more about Cindy Platt’s not-for-profit, visit www.rocstartjax.org. You can also follow Grease Rags on Instagram at @greaseragsclothing.

Grease Rags Clothing Co. is a great example of a small business owner taking her personal passion and style and turning it into a brand. From clothing tags to custom buttons, the company’s aesthetic and brand style is apparent the moment you enter this unique shop.

Check back soon for our next post on establishing your brand’s culture!

Welcoming Jax Beach Elementary on Manufacturing Day

At Holmes Custom, we love to give back to our Jacksonville community! One of the ways we choose to do so is by hosting an annual field trip for the Jacksonville Beach Elementary School first graders. This is a fun tradition we started in 2010, but something that made this year’s field trip even more special is it took place on Manufacturing Day! Manufacturing Day occurs on the first Friday of every October and it’s purpose is to celebrate modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers. As we prepared for this year’s field trip day, we knew there couldn’t have been a better day to invite these students into our Jacksonville facility.

As the school bus pulled into our parking lot early Friday morning, team members from different departments were ready in their stations to welcome the kids. From customer service to shipping, product development to production, there were hands-on stations set up throughout the building to show the students what we do here at Holmes.

We started the day off with a welcome speech by our CEO, Bryan Croft, then the kids followed him over to the “clock in” area where each student “punched in to work”. Next, they broke into groups and traveled around to the different areas. In our production department, they learned how name tags, buttons, stickers and stamps are made, and at the end of each activity they got a fun gift to bring home.

They also visited our Marketing department to learn about product development and come up with creative ideas for products of their own, from coffee mugs to Halloween stamp designs. Our customer service team taught the students about how we prioritize our customers needs to ensure they’re always happy, and about some of the other products we offer on our websites. In the shipping department, they got to see all the different corners of the country we ship to on a daily basis, and of course, left with a few of our signature tootsie rolls!

“What started out as an opportunity to help my daughters’ school with a field trip to our office has really evolved into a fun event for us and the students,” said CEO Bryan Croft. “This one day a year when we open up the office for 80 or so first graders, we try to teach them what it’s all about here, but also work on what they’re learning in school. We teach them the importance of spelling correctly and taking your time as haste makes waste. We also talk about team building and brain storming new ideas for products.”

Every year there’s at least a few students completely fascinated by some of the manufacturing jobs we offer our community here at Holmes Custom. We pride ourselves on the products we make everyday, but to see how excited these children get about our company is a completely different joy of it’s own.  We can’t wait to welcome the next group of first graders in 2018! To learn more about Manufacturing Day, click here.

The Business of Branding: Establishing your Brand Style

Now that you’ve turned your brilliant business idea into actionable company goals, it’s time to create your business’ identity. What makes a business recognizable? Often times it’s their unique product or their friendly staff, but the way you visually present your company also has a lasting impression. For this week’s The Business of Branding topic, we’ll show you how to establish your brand’s style, from designing your logo to selecting the perfect color palette.

Get Inspired

Many aspiring small business owners dream for years of turning their passion into a full-time job, so finding inspiration for their brand style is easy. Whether you’ve already gathered elements for your dream brand or really aren’t even sure where to begin, creating an inspiration board will help you keep all of your thoughts in one space. Before you begin nailing down your style, look for logos, fonts, design elements and color palettes that speak to you. If there’s a brand you love or that makes you feel something you’d like your customers to feel, look to them for inspiration. While you never want to mock an existing brand, it’s ok to find pieces of inspiration in others. Just be sure your brand is unique in its own ways so it stands apart.

Create your Logo

Once you’ve found different elements of inspiration, the best place to begin is with your brand’s logo. While other elements of your brand’s style will be greatly important in branding your business, your logo is at the core of your brand and should be designed with that in mind. Many small businesses choose to hire a Graphic Designer because they know best how to take your inspiration and create the logo you’ve been dreaming of.

“Designing the perfect logo can seem like a very crucial or stressful task, but breaking it down into smaller steps makes it more feasible, and also a lot more fun,” said Graphic Designer Elizabeth Wyatt. “I recommend coming up with a list of adjectives or ‘buzz words’ that describe or convey what you want a customer to feel when they see your logo. Knowing whether you want your logo to be lighthearted and casual, sophisticated and serious, or anything in between, is a perfect first step that can tremendously help in guiding you or your designer in the right design direction for your brand.”

Whether you hire a designer or create your own logo, it’s a good idea to have different variations. Start with your main logo then design a smaller variation, like an icon, that will be easier to add to pictures, graphics, etc.

Choose your Font(s)

Many people believe their font(s) should be chosen before their logo is designed, but the opposite is actually true. Your fonts should be complimentary to your logo since your logo is the main point of focus. That being said, your typography is still a crucial feature of your branding. Different fonts have the power to make your customers feel a certain way, just like colors do. More and more companies are choosing to use multiple fonts in their branding, but if you do go that route, it’s extremely important your fonts work well together.

Select your Color Palette

When choosing your color palette, consider your company goals and think about what you want your brand to feel like. If you’re opening a holistic spa, you may choose shades of blue which represent loyalty and calmness. Choose shades of yellow if you want your customers to feel energized and positive when they interact with your brand. After you’ve determined what emotions you’d like your company to evoke, choose your brand’s main color and a few complimentary colors. Be sure they aren’t battling one another for your customer’s attention.

Pick your Design Elements

Finally, it’s time to choose your brand’s design elements. These elements can be many different things including textures, graphics or images, to name a few. While they may seem like a minor detail, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll use your design elements when creating your website, establishing your social media presence, etc.

Creating your brand style is one of the most important things you’ll do while getting your small business off the ground! Establishing a cohesive, memorable brand for your business will help you connect with your future customers, and will also make sure they remember who you are. Now that you’ve spent so much time developing your brand style, be sure to compile all of these elements into a brand style guide. Your style guide will help you stay consistent in your business’ branding and will also make it easy for new hires to quickly catch on. Next time, we’ll discuss how to identify your brand’s culture and make your business more relatable to consumers.