Branding 101 for Small Business

Welcome to Season 1, Episode 8, Branding 101 for Small Business, of Web and BeyondCastWhat is Branding? Why Should Small Business owners care? That’s the goal of this episode.

(If you’re reading this in a podcast directory/app, please visit for clickable links and the full show notes and transcript of this cast.)

To help answer this question, I have with me today, Reggie Holmes, the owner and Creative Director at Enthuse Creative, a branding and design studio based in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Enthuse Creative specializes in brand strategy, design and management for services-oriented startups, small businesses and professional organizations. Reggie brings 9+ years of strategic thinking and creative talent to the plate for his clients, developing award-winning visual solutions for print and digital media.

WordPress Website Hosting

If you’d like to discuss this episode, please click here to leave a comment down below (this jumps you to the bottom of the post), or feel free to contact me here about any other questions or comments.

So, Reggie, tell us what brought you to branding, strategy and design? What attracted you to this profession?

I have always been interested in design, ever since I was a young child. I can remember when I used to design logos and apparel for fictional sports franchises.

I have a Fine Arts degree and I appreciate fine art disciplines like drawing and painting, but I am most drawn to commercial art, lines, shapes and how they work with type and text to communicate concepts and ideas. This was solidified for me during a computer graphics class my senior year in high school. I like that design is more geared toward communication than expression. It affects our everyday lives in so many ways, from signage and advertising to almost everything we read each day on paper or screens.

What is branding? How should Small Business approach the concept in terms of practicality for their business? Ergo, why should they care?

Your brand is in many respects your business’ most valuable asset. Branding is the cumulative entities, identities, expressions and extensions – all the “touchpoints” that make up that brand. It is all the elements inherent to your business or organization that help distinguish it from anything else.

Branding can be thought of in terms of addition (+) and multiplication (x)

You are adding individual elements but they will have multiplied effect as they reinforce your brand identity and message across the many platforms/media channels that we have available to us today.

Studies show that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. And as marketers are presented with more and more channels to reach their customers, that number is growing rapidly.

Source: “Why Your Customers’ Attention is the Scarcest Resource in 2017

What are the components of a Small Business Brand?

  • Visual Elements (logo, colors, marketing collateral, website, app, signage, retail/point-of-sale)
  • Verbal Elements (tagline, web copy, voicemail/phone greeting, customer service)
  • Tangible v. Intangible (tone, online tech support or phone number, price or no-price)

  • Promise/Proposition (identify what brand represents, values, goals)
  • Promote (highlight and reinforce positive qualities)
  • Position (identity strengths/ target audience/demographic/differentiate)
  • Provide (information/context)

For the solo entrepreneur, you yourself are the brand, especially early in the beginning while you build. There ought to be harmony and not a disconnection between what you project personally and what your business projects. Everything will create a story that is uniquely yours, language, characters and narrative, therefore it must all be connected and congruous.

How can a startup business owner with little to no budget start out branding so that when they are ready to, say, hire you, they’ve not gone down a wrong path?

Ask themselves some key questions:

Who is my target (Market)?

What is my (Message)?

What is my (Method)?

Begin with a monologue, which will eventually become a dialogue with everyone who engages your business.

There is a strong temptation to cut corners – have a strong business plan and many advisors. Strategy precedes design. A strong business plan (including brand/ marketing plan) is a firm foundation upon which to build.

Don’t just throw money at the cheapest option. I’ve seen this come back to bite people in some excruciating ways. Mention meeting just the other day. Also, don’t feel like you need to get everything at once. The items you get designed, social platforms you engage on etc. should be good fits for your business. Be wary of anyone trying to sell you what you don’t need.

Develop a relationship with a design professional, not unlike a bookkeeper/accountant relationship.

If a business has a budget, what should they do before they meet with a designer, if anything?

In a word, Research! Come into the conversation with data and questions. Your designer should ask you as many questions as you ask them.

Remember, our goal from the creative side is to help you communicate key information about your business so that your potential customers/clients can make a decision to purchase from you. This means my goal is not just creating pretty designs. We’re into communication not just cosmetics.

One thing that makes for a great client is the ability to communicate not just what you don’t like, but what you do like and why you like it.

Think in terms of investment and value, not just cost and price.

Understand where branding fits in terms of where your business organization process is. Don’t do it too soon, don’t put it off and try to do it on the cheap in a haphazard fashion. It needs to be carefully thought-out and executed and the craft of the produced design should reflect that. This is where advice and plan are extremely helpful.

What should Small Business startups and owners look for when hiring a branding, design or creative agency to help them build their brand and marketing collateral?

A few key things:

  • A firm that will offer you the level of engagement in the creative process that is right for you. How involved do you want to be?
  • A firm that is willing to educate you on their methodology, techniques and process. [Designers] increasingly want to be valued as strategic, creative partners.

Make sure you understand their process. They should be able to explain the value they will add through their services.

When you see their work, do you see work that represents the level of creativity/skill you require. Do they demonstrate an understanding of your vision and goals.

Trustworthy, integrity and honesty – goes without saying. Someone you would enjoy working with, because hopefully, you’re able to build a long-term partner who will be with you as your business grows!

In this Cast | Branding 101 for Small Business

Ray Sidney-Smith, Host

Reggie Holmes









Reggie HolmesEnthuse Creative

Show Notes | Branding 101 for Small Business

Resources we mention, including links to them will be provided here. Please listen to the episode for context.

Rethinking the 4 P’s

Understanding the 4C’s of the Marketing Mix

Best Tool of the Week | Branding 101 for Small Business


Canva Design School

Raw Text Transcript | Branding 101 for Small Business

Raw, unedited and machine-produced text transcript so there may be errors, but you can search for specific points in the episode to jump to, or to reference back to at a later date and time, by keywords or key phrases.

Read More
008 Branding 101 for Small Business

Join the conversation!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.