Not all Pasties are Cornish – branding for small businesses


If you’re interested in business with customers, you’re going to want a brand because without it you lack identity, a pulse, a presence, and purpose.   Mary Van de Wiel, from NY Brand Lab.
When you run a small business, how important is it to have good branding? In this blog I’ll set out some thoughts about why, for a small business, it’s worth engaging a professional to help develop your branding.

Let’s consider each of these attributes in turn:

  • Identity
  • Pulse
  • Presence
  • Purpose

Your identity is closely tied to your logo. It’s how customers or clients perceive you based on how you present yourself. If your “front door” or “shop window” is tatty and cluttered, what does that say about what’s inside?

Your pulse is the energy level within your company. Are you dynamic, fast-paced, or relaxed? What kind of vibe do you want to project?

Your presence is what makes you stand out from the crowd. Great leaders have presence. Great companies do too.

Your purpose must articulate what it is your business does – and explain why. What sets you apart from others?

Think of Greggs Bakery from the North East. They are no longer a local phenomenon. Greggs has gained popularity with clever branding and marketing. They make an effort to support charities, sponsor events and broadcast their business with Breakfast Clubs and a Charitable Trust.
Branding Greggs Logo
Branding Greggs Fondation Logo

At first sight, the Greggs logo is very simple. Four rounded squares on a blue square. Replacing one square with a heart allows Greggs to customise their brand imagery for a specific purpose. Branding is preserved by keeping the typeface consistent – even though the logo has been adapted for a specific purpose.

Local businesses still need to compete. In fact, local competition – when it is your small business – is very important. You need to stand out from the crowd – even if that crowd is within the same postcode.

Logos must endure. Your products and services will change as your business develops. Fresh ideas and new technology will enable those changes but your underlying identity should stay the same so that your branding is preserved, recognised and helps your customers find you.

Change and Consistency:

Your content will change from season to season but your brand needs to stay constant so that people know where to come back and how to recognise you. What do your customers say to their friends when they recommend you? Imagine you own a café in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Compared to 10 or 20 years ago there is so much more choice now. Your customers expect more. In return your offerings will need to evolve according to seasonality, ingredients and fashion. You might offer detox smoothies in January, romantic flavours in February, Easter delights, fruit themes in summer, Halloween specials in October and festive fayre from November until the end of the year.

As a customer, how do you know you’ve found the right place from a recommendation? Does your branding help? It should.

Branding is an essential part of creating a successful small business.