Big brands are different than the rest of us.

It’s not just their big budgets and large staffs. It’s their tenacious adherence to a brand style.

Consistent presentation of their brand with every email they send, every social media message they share, and every post on their blog means we form a cohesive, trustworthy image of who they are and what they represent.

Luckily, we can do the same thing with our businesses. Tools like the Constant Contact email editor put the power of branding in our own hands.

But with great power comes great responsibility, as the saying goes. So how can we brand our businesses so that — even if they’re small — they look big?

Why “doing your own thing” is a bad idea

Big companies have teams of people who implement their marketing. What if everyone did their own thing?

  • Eduardo’s favorite color is green, so all his emails are done in shades of chartreuse, emerald, and forest green
  • Vicky likes the goth look, so her emails feature black backgrounds, stark white type, and red accents.
  • Roberta loves florescent colors, so the emails she puts together are nice and bright

Of course this doesn’t work.

At best, it’s a waste of valuable time because each employee is reinventing the wheel.

At worst, it causes brand confusion for the recipient, because each piece looks different from the one before.

Instead, big brands develop a style they identify as something that will resonate with the ideal customer they’d like to reach. Then they ensure everyone on the team uses that style consistently.

For us small business owners, it’s easier. If you’re the person who puts together your emails, you just have to be consistent from email to email. If there are several people creating them, you can develop templates that are visually related, and ask the team to use only those templates for emails they create.

How can you find your style?

Developing your brand style isn’t a task that you have to assign to an outside firm. It’s a matter of developing your message, then deciding how to translate that message into a visual representation of your business.

Start by thinking about your ideal customer. Don’t try to appeal to everyone: decide who your very best customers are, and target your emails toward them.

Once you know who you’re aiming for, you can develop colors, fonts, and images that will appeal to them.

That’s easier said than done, but here are a few guidelines:

When choosing your colors, think about the colors your prospects already like. Don’t think about your favorites, think about theirs. One way to discover what they like is to look at the consumer goods they already purchase and pick up color inspiration there.

Look for images that speak to your ideal customer. Different styles of images will work for your ideal customer depending on their age group, gender, and culture. For example, young mothers may enjoy images of family and children. Retired folks might enjoy images that evoke relaxation and new horizons. Athletes will enjoy images of people in motion.

Use a consistent visual style. In addition to using a template with set colors and fonts, use a consistent email header that says who you are and what you do. Remember, yours is just one of the many emails they receive, and a uniform look will help them remember your company and what you offer.

Stick with it, even when you’re bored. I tell my clients that right around the time they’re bored to tears with their visual brand, that’s when their ideal customer is just starting to remember it. So stay the course, even if you’re itching to change: especially if you’re itching to change!

You can do it

Remember, it’s not the job of your prospects to remember your offering: it’s your job to remind them, consistently over time. So pick a style and start implementing it now. That’s what the big brands do, and you can do it, too!