How to Brand Your Small Business in 2018

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Yali Saar, who is the is the CEO of Tailor Brands, an automated branding agency. He is a former creative for BBDO & Chief Creative Officer for Raising the Bar.  For more information:  www.tailorbrands.com.

SmallBizLady: As 2017 ends, why is it important that entrepreneurs create a strategic plan for the upcoming year?

Yali Saar: Influential branding can really make the difference between a small coffee shop failing or becoming a multibillion dollar franchise. Branding is really the difference between customers paying $5 or $15 for the sandwich you make. It’s a name, a reputation, an image that sticks with you and in some cases, it can even be a state of mind.

SmallBizLady: HOW CAN SMALL BUSINESSES AFFORD THIS HIGH LEVEL OF BRANDING?  

Yali Saar: You’re right, good branding can be costly, and it’s hard to compete with the spending budgets of top tier brands. Like most businesses, they recognize this problem as “time + talent = money”, so they will need to decide to remove the time factor from this equation.

This is where automated design comes in, to level the playing field and allow small businesses to create unique and memorable branding. The solution – an algorithm that could “think” like a designer, essentially translating the world as a designer would see it.

SmallBizLady: WHAT EXACTLY IS AUTOMATED DESIGN?

Yali Saar: Automated design is the process in which a program enables us to mechanize design functions that we were previously performing manually. The machine-based learning algorithm creates a logo and design assets in a matter of minutes based on a series of preferences chosen by the user. A logo is really just a combination of a font, a typeface and a style, so once all elements are chosen by the user, the system can automatically generate the results.

SmallBizLady: HOW DOES THIS WORK FOR THE USER? 

Yali Saar: A user will first input the name of their business and share a little bit about the nature of what they do. Then, the program starts a little game, trying to make the experience as similar to working with an actual designer. The user would be shown a couple of images refereed to “this or that”, pick their preferences based on style or font type. Users can also choose a specific icon, initial or structure for the design.  After a few questions, the system will generate about nine logos for the user to choose between. Once the logo is created, users can further customize the design and change certain elements so it matches what they had imagined.

SmallBizLady: WHY WOULD A SMALL BUSINESS CHOOSE AUTOMATED DESIGN INSTEAD OF HIRING A GRAPHIC DESIGNER?

Yali Saar:  The beauty of an automated platform is that the system will utilize this design on all branded assets, eliminating paying extra for each item a la carte. The logo should become the basis of your marketing efforts and the advantage of using an automated service is that it can be easily transferred into different designs. All of your assets will become branded since you can seamlessly place your logo on business cards for each employee as they join, daily social posts for your Facebook page and a banner for your business at a tradeshow. Since automated design is a true technological output and becomes smarter each day, you can create all of these assets without relying on any templates in the background. It’s the combination of the quality and product range of an agency with the speed and price of an automated platform.

SmallBizLady: WHAT TYPE OF LOGO DESIGN DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR SMALL BUSINESSES WHO WANT TO CREATE A RECOGNIZABLE AND TIMELESS DESIGN?  

Yali Saar: There are timeless logos and there are trends. I would recommend a plain text logo, or as it’s called a typography logo, since these type of designs are generally very timeless and never go out of style. Some logos that come to mind are Dior and the New York Times as these designs are comprised of just a simple yet elegant font.

SmallBizLady: WHAT KIND OF LOGO DESIGN SHOULD BUSINESSES AVOID WHEN DESIGNING THEIR BRANDING?

Yali Saar:  Avoid dynamic logos, which are logos that change every time you use them, confusing the customer and lacks consistency. Pick a logo that can withstand the years, and continue being timeless like the Ford logo while accepting updates without becoming completely transformed. A logo is something that you live with for a long time – you really have to take a hard look and decide, this is what I want to go with.

SmallBizLady: CAN YOU IDENTIFY ANY TRENDS WITHIN THE BRANDING AND DESIGN WORLD THAT WILL BE HELPFUL FOR USERS WHEN CREATING THEIR LOGO?

Yali Saar: Yes, the current trend is the simplification, i.e., understanding how recognizable a logo can be. Take the MasterCard logo as an example. In their latest rebrand, they changed their logo to just two circles, without the word MasterCard in the middle that they have had for years. The fact that people can just recognize the brand by seeing one circle in red and the other circle in yellow – that’s the aspiration of any brand.

SmallBizLady: HOW CAN BRANDING MAKE A SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESSFUL?

Yali Saar: It’s about recognizing the brand’s jingle, tagline or color scheme long after the advertisement is over or your car has passed the billboard. Successful branding is more than just a logo, it’s a process that extends to every aspect of your business. It is building strategy, keeping your social presence active and so much more. These things have always required large budgets, which sets a barrier of entry for many projects and small business out there. This is where automated branding comes in to really break down these barriers and give everyone with an idea a fair chance.

SmallBizLady: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS WHO ARE JUST GETTING STARTED? 

Yali Saar: There are two points to remember. First, the brand and design should truly project what you’re trying achieve – what action you would like your customers to take or to acknowledge in the product that you’re setting forth. Secondly, stay consistent across your marketing material and brand message. Utilize the same language and maintain brand continuity across all platforms. This will allow your customers to identify you, become followers and eventually convert.

SmallBizLady: When should small businesses begin to grow their presence online?

Yali Saar: Immediately. When you’re building up any brand, the first line of defense towards your credibility is your online presence. Once customers are interested in your business, the first thing they will do is type your name on the web and search for your business. If you don’t appear there, any outreach or anything that you make, including any email that you have sent, is less credible. Even if you can’t start a website, just start a Facebook page with that logo and start posting there. It would give your project so much more credibility when you’re trying people are looking to connect with a business, and that is priceless.

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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