I'm no expert on branding. But, I have a brand, and have committed to utilizing a few things that I keep consistent and deem important to who I am and what Ivy & Co. represents. Keep in mind, I'm a one-woman show (except of course when I make 5 year old Ivy do child labor for her future company). There may be more i's I could dot, or t's I could cross, but at this point, this is what works, and what I can justify putting time and money into.
1. Put yourself in a box. But, it can be a big box.
I sew. I paint furniture. I teach dance. And I'm a wife and mom. I have a BA in Organizational Leadership, and I also love to promote products and businesses I love. You will find all of these things on my website/blog and social networking accounts. Though it's broad, it's all part of Ivy & Co. and I'm okay with that, as long as it seems cohesive to me, and can be explained to my audience. Normally when people ask me about Ivy & Co., I say, "there are two components to it- furniture rehab and sewing. If I've got great pieces, I paint them. If I have to fill an order of headbands, I sew them. Supply and demand." Everything else, they can read about on my blog.
2. Develop a logo.
This is a very helpful early step. Mine is simple (I made it on picmonkey) and I like the look. I like bringing new life to old things, and I feel like my font and the weathered postage stamp background conveys this. My logo is on my sewing labels, business cards, hang tags, online headers and enlarged onto 5"x7" foam boards for display purposes.
3. Use thematic images.
I made valances. Since then I've reused this fabric for drawer fronts, runners, valances again, etc. Now, to tie in those early years of creativity, I photographed it and use it as a background image for my website and social media headers, buttons, etc. it helps that it's green, since my business name sake is "Ivy."
4. Pick a font (or two) and use it.
5. Business Cards.
Develop a business card you're proud of. I recently ordered some that came out terrible, really grainy, and the logo was so tiny. I'm not sure what went wrong, but about a week later, my website got hacked and I had to change from www.ivy-and-co.com to www.theivyandco.com, so I needed to reprint all my cards anyway. (Read about that debacle here.) Have your business card on hand at all times and don't be shy when giving it out. I'll staple it to the back or bottom of a furniture piece I'm selling, and always slip one in when mailing something out. I love having them double sided to include all my social media links on the back side. I use mpix.com to print mine. Super fast shipping, even to Hawaii, and great quality.
6. Get a logo stamp.
I love my stamp. I use it on everything from paper bags, to quick labels. I put it above my return address on envelopes. I stamp it on thank you cards. Don't get me wrong, this isn't essential to have, but it sure puts the icing on the cake when I don't have the logo product I need. I got it made at Office Max.
I am actually awaiting my first set of professionally made hang tags, as we speak, but for the last year, I've used my stamp, Avery marking tags from Office Max, and some gold safety pins from Walmart to create the tags for my products.
I've invested in clothing labels for my products (headbands, mini-washcloths, bunting, aprons, baby soft blocks, etc), since that's not exactly something I can create on my own.
I hope these simple tips help you get started on making some steps in the right direction for your small business. It's been a few years in the making for me. Let me know if you have any questions about anything.