You’ve heard the phrase “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.” The meaning is easy enough to discern: If something is going well, why change a good thing? This can apply to any number of situations, from your current relationship status to the way you load the dishwasher. The meaning can be different as an entrepreneur, though. If you’re a small business owner, you likely have a few policies set in place that are best left unchanged for now. Things work, so there’s no reason to switch them up — right?
Well, it depends. If you’re talking about the way your computer monitor is set up, or how the stockroom is organized, then sure, keep them as they are. Don’t fix what isn’t broken– but what about your guidelines surrounding larger aspects of your business? Keeping things the same for the sake of balance is well and good, but have you glanced at what might have become outdated while you weren’t looking?
The world has certainly changed in the last 365 days, where digital information and staying at arm’s length are the new normal. Adjusting to the changes means also looking at the way that you keep your brand relevant. Your business depends on the influx of new customers and foot traffic through the door. Keeping a steady advertising campaign is a smart idea, but it must be ever-changing to reflect the state of the world. If yours has never deviated from what has always been, it’s time to shake things up. Get your brand back into the wild and attract new business. If you’re unsure how to start, don’t worry — we’ve got some tips for you.
Update Your Logo
Let’s play a game: When you read the following list, tell us in the comments the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? Go:
Now, let’s take a guess: The logos for all of those businesses popped into your head first and foremost, correct? That is not by accident, dear reader. Each of those companies has strategically designed a logo that is easy to see, shows up everywhere, and is small yet effective. Such is the case with today’s advertising techniques; since so many people are using their mobile device for internet viewing, businesses can’t afford to have a super high-graphic logo that takes decades to load.
Take a moment to examine your own business logo and determine how well it works in today’s world, or even just overall. Customers like a clean and simple logo that is easy to read and does not have an excess of colors, fonts, and imagery. Look at your logo and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my logo accurately represent my business? This might sound silly, but it’s a valid question. If you consider your company culture to be fun and playful, why do you have a super-sterile logo that looks like it should belong to a law firm? On the flip side, if your logo has zany, wild features to it, you probably won’t be taken as seriously if you’re in the political field. Ensure that your logo, however simple or otherwise, gives clients a sample taste of your business’s culture.
- Is it too complex? Crazy fonts, overly large or tiny lettering, and confusing bold or underlined text confuses the brain and makes people uncomfortable. If your logo is guilty of any or all of these offenses, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Look also at the images that you’re using. Does the logo have too much going on? Are there too many details involved?
- Do my color choices complement each other? Back in the late ’90s and early 2000’s, a bright, flashing, loudmouthed logo was all the rage. Web and graphic design was a new art, and everyone wanted to show off their skills. Now that the world has collectively toned it down, many logos have undergone a redesign in recent years. Look at your colors and decide if they work well together or hurt your brain. A logo with simple colors and layers is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but it will also load more quickly online. Seriously reconsider a background color as well. Remember, you want your logo readable across all channels. Having an “invisible” background might make it easier on everybody’s eyes.
Show Off Your Green Technology
Everybody loves an eco-friendly business, and your clients are no different. If you’ve started making positive changes to go green, show it off! Shameless bragging? You bet it is! After all, isn’t that what a good advertising technique is? Take the chance to brag, brag, brag about how your business has gone green in more than one way. Take pictures and post on social media, and write blog posts on your website to show what you’ve changed. Let the world know what you’re doing to decrease your carbon footprint.
Now…what exactly are those changes? If you’re at a loss, here are some ideas:
- Solar energy. Installing commercial solar systems is a fantastic way to not just save on power bills every month, but also to boost your credibility within the community. Solar energy is clean, leaves no pollution, and is overall a smart choice — and the public loves to see it.
- Going paperless. Admit it: You tend to respect a company more when you find out that they’ve gone paperless. It goes past making less waste and creating more landfill; going paperless is a complete culture change, and takes time and patience to adopt. Transition your business from one that prints, copies, and mails to one that saves, uploads, and emails.
- Swapping old light fixtures and replacing bulbs for LEDs. This one is actually a safety feature too, since poor lighting is a direct contributor to productivity and mental health. Old, dingy soft white bulbs last 25 times less than LED bulbs. Burned-out bulbs are a safety hazard, especially outdoors, so replace your business’s lights with safer, more energy-efficient fixtures.
Get Your Parking Lot in Order
Imagine that one company that you might love, but LOATHE its parking lot. If that alone deters you from visiting that establishment, then already this is bad press for the brand. Take a look at your own parking situation for your business. Is it one of those that clients hate? If so, then it’s time to make changes.
Industrial concrete needs are expensive, there’s no doubt about it. But if your parking lot is tiny, with cracked concrete and potholes galore, then an asphalt paving company might be your next business investment. It might also be worth contacting an urban engineer for a complete hardscaping redesign of the space. Remember, you need to dedicate a certain number of parking spaces for handicap-accessible vehicles as well, and engineers are paid to understand and plan for these kinds of things.
You might think it’s a waste of time and money to look at your parking lot — after all, shouldn’t your quality customer service and amazing business speak for itself? Yes and no. You can run an incredible business, but if people avoid going because it’s hard, dangerous, or completely impossible to find a parking space, then this is very bad for your brand. This is one situation where yes, it is broke, so DO fix it!
Update Your Interior
Some businesses look like they’re straight out of the 1950s, and that can be charming. An old cafe with a vintage serving counter design and black and white checked tiles instantly transforms you to Lou’s Cafe on November 5th, 1955. For a business that prides itself on a vintage aesthetic, this is a great advertising technique and works in the business’s favor.
However. (You knew this was coming, didn’t you?) A business that looks antiquated without fitting a theme looks….well, outdated. It’s not cheap to renovate any interior space, we know that, but try to look at your business from a third-party view: Is it warm and welcoming, or is it scary and rundown? Be honest with yourself.
Even if you don’t have the budget for a full-scale renovation yet, some cheap ideas include painting, replacing old hardware (doorknobs, hinges, cabinetry, etc), and regrouting old tile to make them look less desolate. All of these are simple, affordable, and require no professional skills; you can do it yourself! Your storefront matters, and one that is outdated will send the wrong idea to prospective clients.
Invest in Custom Branded Clothing
Everybody loves something for free or at a discount, so why not spend a few extra dollars splurging on some swag for your business? You can use these as door prizes for customers, or offer them for a low price simply for advertising purposes. Your end goal is to get as many eyes on your brand as possible, isn’t it? Go the extra mile and look into a clothing merchant for some branded clothes for clients and employees.
The most popular and obvious choice is a stock of custom shirts. Even if your customers end up wearing them as pajama shirts, at least they’re being worn at all! Try and design them to look like something that patrons would actually wear outside in the world instead of looking like a walking billboard. If you’re not the most artistically inclined individual, consider hiring a freelance graphic designer to help you. They might even inspire you to branch out to other clothing items, like running shoes and tote bags.
Start small. Until you see how your merch is selling, don’t order an entire stockpile of the product. As you start to see clients rocking their sweet new swag, start subtly asking them about what they think. How’s the logo, is it comfortable — those sorts of questions can help you better gauge what to order more or less of next time, as well as what other alterations you should make in the future.
Improve Your Exterior to Boost Curb Appeal
The same rules that apply to your business’s interior also apply to your exterior, perhaps even moreso. Half of the battle is getting customers through the door, and if you’ve got some creepy horror movie vibes going on, you probably will get less foot traffic. Would you be totally keen on going into a business that looks like it belongs on Elm Street? Probably not.
Fortunately, landscaping is typically not as difficult, nor as expensive, as a full interior redesign. Even simple tasks like tree trimming, patching holes in the sidewalks, and mowing the lawn can make a massive difference. If you have neither the time nor the resources to make this happen, contact a local landscaping company to help you out. Such services can take care of your exterior needs, often bundling services to give you the best possible price. For example, you might get tree services and a lawn mower package deal through a professional landscaper.
If you do have the extra time, though, it’s worth getting your own hands dirty and taking it upon yourself to beautify the exterior of your business. The wonderful thing about working outdoors is that you put your entire body into it, and the results are instantaneous. When you’re sweating and working hard for your business, the end result is all the more gratifying. Transforming a murder house into a quaint little storefront is quite an accomplishment.
Even if you associate your brand with your product or service, there are many different facets to boosting your business’s brand image. Your logo design is only the beginning. The brand of a business is every aspect, from the way that it looks on the outside to the way that you are represented on social media.
Don’t be afraid to try and fix what you do not consider broken. Even if you think that everything is running like clockwork, think again. There is always room for improvement. This doesn’t mean that you are failing, not by any means! It means that you are taking the positive measures to improve your business brand. This doesn’t only happen from the outside; you need to focus on the moving interior bits too.by