October is Small Business Month.

This October is probably the most challenging #TimeOfTheCentury for many small businesses as well as individuals who got let go by their companies. However, businesses and individuals should see things from the positive side.

Many successful entrepreneurs succeeded during difficult economic times, and this is the time for small business owners to think outside the box, be brave to venture outside their comfort zone, start a new business or pivot their business that caters to the new normal needs.

In a Chinese saying, “Biggest profits mean gravest risks.” When there is a risk, there is an opportunity.

Whether you are pivoting your business or starting a new one, make sure you build a strong brand from the very beginning. If you are not good at marketing, talk to a seasoned expert who understands small and medium-sized businesses and has a track record in building notable brands.

Here are a few strategies small businesses and startups can use to help create brand identities:

Author: Shane Barker

1. Choose a memorable name.

You have less than 10 seconds to make a first impression, and I believe your business’s name plays a role in what people will think. Make your name easy, relevant and memorable while clearly conveying your brand’s message.

2. Evoke emotion in your audience.

Triggering an emotional response can affect the way we remember things. How you evoke emotion in your target audience can influence if and how they perceive your brand, which can then help you in your brand-building efforts.

Try to come up with a voice, message and identity that will make your audience feel emotionally invested in your company. This will vary among companies; one brand might be more nostalgic, whereas another might cater to amusement.

3. Develop a visual identity.

Human beings are visual creatures. I believe your branding efforts should prioritize developing a visual identity, such as choosing the appropriate colors to represent your brand. Different colors can convey different messages in the minds of your audience. For instance, red often signifies passion and can grab your attention, so it might be the perfect choice for brands that want to convey a bold image.

Typography is another important aspect of your visual identity. Serif fonts, for example, tend to come across as more traditional, and they are typically better suited for print. Sans-serif fonts, on the other hand, depict a more playful and informal attitude and provide good readability for digital screens.

Consider these visual factors to come up with a logo that accurately represents your brand, and display it on your website and social media.

4. Align your website with your brand identity.

Nearly 2 billion people buy goods and services online. This makes your website an important storefront for your business. Convey your brand identity and messaging through your website. Everything ranging from the design and visuals to the content and copy should align with your brand voice and identity.

This means your website colors should match your brand colors, and fonts used for the body copy should complement your logo’s typography. It’s also crucial you address any potential readability issues. If your brand color is red, for example, using a red background would make reading difficult. Instead, opt for a white background or another complementary color, and add red design elements.

The same goes for fonts. If your logo’s font is more decorative or difficult to read, use simpler fonts for the rest of your copy.

Most importantly, the tone of your writing should reflect what you want people to associate with your brand. A casual and lively tone would work well for a brand that wants to come off as playful, whereas more serious companies should aim to be more traditional and formal online.

5. Build your social media presence.

I believe a strong social media presence has become a necessity for brand building. Social media can be a powerful platform for you to get your brand out there and reach a relevant audience. Start by choosing the platform your target audience is most active on.

Once you’ve established the best platform to begin your marketing, it’s time to make a profile for your company. Choose profile pictures and cover images that match your brand’s visual identity. You can even use your logo to keep things simple. Similar to the copy on your website, use language that matches your brand’s voice in every post or caption.

6. Align your promotions with your brand’s voice.

In my experience, many young businesses need to give their brand a jump-start through paid promotions. To ensure these campaigns reflect your brand, choose the promotion and channel that are most likely to help you reach your target audience.

Start by researching the behavior and preferences of the demographic you’re targeting, such as where they consume the most content. If they primarily use social media, which platforms do they frequent? Based on this, you’ll be able to come up with ideas for the promotions you should run.

If you’re targeting teens and young millennials, for example, partnering with a relevant social media influencer (whose values align with your brand’s) might be more effective than ads. But as a whole, it’s possible that pay-per-click ads will be a necessity for many startups. Run them on platforms that your target audience uses the most.