McDonald’s Golden Arches. The Nike Tick. Even DeWalt's block capitals. Big-name businesses know how important it is to develop a signature colour, logo, and style. And they spend loads of money making sure every element of their business is perfectly designed to get attention...
Of course, small business branding is different: Small and medium-sized field service businesses don’t always have loads of money to throw at marketing or the time to do it, either.
So: how can you compete with the big HVAC company, plumber, or property maintenance business down the street, with their fancy logoed vans and professionally designed invoices?
Well, we’re all about helping field service businesses grow, so we did the research on how to create branding and designs that will help you draw in customers—without breaking the bank.
Let's take a look:
- Hire a designer to consult with.
- Think about your colours and style.
- Embrace your size.
- Turn your new design into a marketing opportunity.
- Start showing off your new image.
While there’s a lot more to building a successful brand than looks alone—for example, your communication style and customer service also play a role in how people see your field service business, and it's partly where our Customer Communication Toolkit can help—but today we’re going to focus on the visual side of things.
Join us, below, as we take a look at how to use colour and design to help your field service business stand out and get more jobs.
What elements do you need in a field service branding package?
Here’s a branding elements list that will help you successfully brand your business.
Depending on how you conduct business, you may need most, if not all of these:
- A logo: a good slogan to go with it helps, too.
- Letterhead and envelopes: if you mail invoices, reminders, etc. We suggest going paperless to save time, money, and the environment.
- Business cards.
- Paper forms: any you use with your customers, like estimates. (Again: Going paperless means there’s one less thing you need to pay to have designed.)
- Website/blog template.
- Email templates. For example, if you use Mailchimp for your email marketing newsletter, you can have a designer create a customised email template.
- Vehicle wraps, stickers, or magnets.
Consider what you’ll need to have designed for your business, and your designer can also guide you.
Your website, in particular, is an incredibly important piece of your branding plan.
We worked with some of our own customers to create the Field Service Website Review: check it out for a look at real-world examples that can help you create a quality website!
Now, let's take a look at the steps to getting your branding done right:
1. Please, hire a designer to consult with!
Everyone thinks they have "a knack" for graphic design (whatever that means), but much like some singers and dancers on reality TV, many of them are deluded.
While free tools like Canva are great for creating blog images and banners, unless you have a graphic design background we recommend leaving your business image to the pros.
A professional designer won’t necessarily empty your wallet; search online for ‘branding package’ or ‘branding identity for small business and you’ll turn up plenty of lower-cost options.
Also, many small businesses like 99Designs, where you can get an entire brand identity package starting at £459. You specify what your budget is and what you need, designers ‘compete’ by coming up with designs for you, and you choose the winner.
Still too expensive? Try bartering your services for graphic design, or hire a graphic design student from a local university.
📚 Further reading:
2. Think about your colours and style.
Your designer (if they’re good) will ask you plenty of questions about your business to make sure they design a brand image that actually fits what you do, how you work, and how you want customers to perceive your company.
You’ll want to do some research on your own to help your designer along. For example, as you’re surfing the internet, shopping in real life, or reading a book or magazine, take note of what colours and designs you like. Look at what your competitors are doing, and what you like and don’t like about their brand images.
Colour plays a huge role in how customers see your business; for example, red comes across as exciting but also low-cost. Green is seen as peaceful and environmentally friendly, and black is powerful and classy. If you’re stuck, Digital Marketing magazine has a good article on how colour affects purchasing decisions.
Keep in mind that a logo and other design elements will need to look good not just in your designer’s sketch, but also in black and white, on paper and online, and in large and small formats.
3. Embrace your size.
Here’s a surprising fact: Small businesses sometimes have an advantage over huge companies and chains, because many customers want to do business with independent, authentic brands—so much so that a lot of chains are trying to look like small local businesses.
So instead of copying the big guys, MarketingDonut suggests flaunting your independent operator status through unique branding design.
4. Turn your new design into a marketing opportunity.
Your designer may offer you several different designs to choose from or tweak. Why not put on a contest for your customers and prospects? Post all the designs on your business’s Facebook page or send them to your email list, and ask people to vote on their favourite.
Offer a prize, like a free boiler check-up, to a randomly selected voter. (Random.org has a True Random Number Generator; number your contest participants, enter the lowest and highest numbers into the generator and click Generate.
The number that turns up is your winner!) And don’t forget to post/email the winning design and thank your voters, which is yet another opportunity to reach out to your customers!
5. Start showing off your new image.
Once you have the design elements you need, you can add them to many of the items you use in your business—like these:
- The header and footer of your emailed invoices, purchase orders, appointment confirmations, and service reminders; for example, if you’re a Commusoft customer, you can customise these to look pro to your customers.
- Tshirts for your team or as gifts for your customers. Cafepress is a good place to have these made; you can buy them at a discount to use in your business, or even sell them through the site.
- Promotional giveaway items like mugs, mousepads, or even a workman-shaped stress ball.
- Gift cards/gift certificates.
Your blog images. For example, notice how we have the Commusoft logo in one corner of our blog images.
- Social media profiles.
- Flyers, banners, and signage.
- Your service vans.
In many cases, you can save cash by doing it yourself, such as uploading your new logo to your business Twitter profile or designing mugs and Tshirts through sites like CafePress; in other cases, you’ll want to hire a professional, such as for creating signage or adding your logo to your service vans.
With these steps, you'll be well on your way to creating an impactful brand. Of course, to take things even further, be sure to download your free copy of The Customer Communication Toolkit and discover the ways in which it can help you improve the emails and texts you send, every day!