Build Your Branding

Let’s start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start.)

What exactly is branding? Well according to the dictionary it's...

The promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design. "The process of branding should be considered in global terms"
Distinctive wording or design used to identify a particular brand. "the first thing you'll notice is the cool blue branding"

Branding for your dance studio is pretty much everything about the look, image and vibe of your business. It’s not just your logo and your colours. Good strong branding is unique, memorable and cohesive. How successfully can you capture the story, mission statement and energy of your dance studio in a visual representation that reminds your current customers what you’re all about and tells new customers exactly what to expect.

Branding can be built like layers of bricks, to create a solid and reliable foundation.

Branding is your image. Your business’s identity.

10 steps to building your branding…

- Brainstorm what is unique about your dance studio, what’s the culture, what’s the narrative, what do you focus on, what image do you want to project? Are you bright, fun and recreational? Are you soft, beautiful and classy? Are you slick and super-professional? Write down a bunch of words you want people to think about your studio. Close your eyes and imagine what your dream studio vibe is.

- Begin with colours. What colour palette speaks to you, and matches with your unique studio vibe. Choose one or two main colours, and then some additional complimentary colours (perhaps softer shades of your main colours). Consider your local competition, you don’t want your branding to be confused with someone else’s.

- Create your logo. If this isn’t your strong suit, then get it outsourced. There are so many places online to get a cheap logo… 99 designs, Fivver, or even just seeking out local graphic design students. A great logo is going to make a big difference in the strength and consistency of your branding, so it’s worth the time, effort and investment of doing it properly.

- Once you have your colours and your logo, you can start to build your graphics kit. The best way is to have this as a folder on your computer. It should include JPG, PNG and vector PDF of your logo – perhaps in a few different variations (eg. Simple form, full name form, vertical etc.) Plus vector PDF files with your exact colours, preferred font etc. You will use this for ALL future documents and notices for your studio. This way everything will be professional and your brand message will be consistent. If you work with various companies for printing, designing etc they will use this graphics kit to know how to match up everything with your branding.

- Print up some stationary. Personalised stationary is cheap to order from websites like Vistaprint, especially when they have a sale. But local print companies will often price-match and you’ll get your product quicker. I think it’s worth a few hundred dollars getting branded pens, envelopes, letterheads, folders, mousepads and all the cool things out there that make your business seem more professional in the eyes of the customer (and the staff).

- Set up all of your templates. You should have a template newsletter, invoice, email signature, letterhead, flyer… plus all of your forms. Each one should have your logo, your colour scheme, your signature font and they all should look cohesive.

- Update the website. Your website is the centre of your branding message. Keep it clean and simple, and aim it to potential customers. You can also use your website to provide important information to current customers, but this is best done behind a login – for safety, and simplicity of communication when trying to attract new customers. Use your font, your logo, your exact colours and keep the branding consistent across all the pages.

- Uniforms. Same deal… they’ve got to match perfectly. Work with your specific colour scheme. Your students are like walking, talking brand ambassadors for you.

- Your space. If you have the fortune of being in your own premises, match it up to your branding. Get your signage done, as big as possible. Don’t skimp on signs. With your vector PDF of your logo, you’re going to make it so easy for the sign company. Paint your walls to match up with your brand colours. Try and put something branded in each room. It’s great to get your logo printed on the back wall of each of your studios so that your business can be recognised in every video and photo from in class. When it comes to decorating your studio, it’s incredible the difference a few throw cushions and accent furniture pieces in your colours can do to make your studio pop. Beyond simply just matching your colour scheme, look back on the words you wrote down that you want people to think about your studio, and make sure your fit-out design, furnishing and decoration matches this overall image.

- Communication. Brand isn’t exclusively visual. It’s also about voice. Consider the tone of your communications. Your emails, your voicemail greeting, your advertisement copyrighting, your speech on stage at the recital, your sales pitch to potential customers on the phone. Go back to your mission statement, vision for the studio and those key words that describe your unique proposition. Stay consistent.

Think about what companies you know to have extremely effective brand consistency. The first that comes to mind for me is Apple. They use the same font. Same colours. The look of their communications is always minimalist, professional and cohesive across platforms. When you go on their website, it lines up with the exact imagery you see in their ads, and on their devices. And when you watch their keynote product launches, that same level of care and consideration is given to what clothes their employees wear, what they say and how they say it. And when you go into an Apple store, it’s another lego block that clicks together to form the strong brand recognition that Apple has. What other companies come to mind when you think about powerful brand consistency.

It’s about projecting professionalism, which lifts your business in the eyes of the customer. It adds value to what you do. It helps people take you more seriously. And from a marketing perspective, it makes it easy for the [right] customers to find you. The ones who “get you”, because they see your brand messaging as a reflection of your dance studio’s personality and they can know if it’s the type of studio they’re looking for.

Effective powerful unique branding is key to being the “go-to” studio in your area, and growing your reputation and recognition within the community. Carefully styling your brand image helps your achieve maximum impact and lets you stand out from the crowd and have a clear identity as a dance studio. Professional-looking branding exudes confidence.

They know who you are and what you’re all about.

They can find you easily.

And remember you forever.

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