Small Business Branding

When I say small business, in this case, I mean husband and wife from small…SMALL…town Iowa running their business out of their barn. Yeah, that’s small! None the less, I treated them like any other “big” client. Due to the long-distance communications, and minimal information made available to me, I had my work cut out for me, but wouldn’t you know it, I nailed it after only one round of revisions.

Branding Mind-Mapping

It always starts with a simple question, “Can you make us a business card?” I always like to answer with “Sure!” Usually followed up by several rounds of getting to know the client, their business, and what they want their business card to portray. One of the first things I find out is what do you currently have? A logo, website, old business card? The answer to my surprise…” nothing” So this went from creating a business card to a full-on branding project VERY quickly. With a minimal budget and a “We’re not really sure what we want, but we like what you did for such-n-such…” attitude guiding the way, I tried to delve into the mind of my client and their customer.

The clients are a husband and wife team who sell antiques and other items out of their barn in small-town Iowa. They found me after having worked on the branding and marketing for an Antique Store in another small town in Iowa. I channeled the experience I’ve had in the midwest and concluded to proceed with the same core values I had for my previous client.

  • A Small/Home Town Teel
  • Classic/Timeless
  • Approachable/Friendly
  • Simple

Added to that the few pieces of concrete information I had been given…name of the company and the principals, their FB group page, the fact that it was run out of their barn on their own personal private property, and of course, small-town Iowa I pushed on. Iowan’s are very proud to be from Iowa. The only other state that has more geographical pride, in my experience, is Colorado. So I immersed my self in researching Iowa. If you ask most people, corn and cows make Iowa…Iowa. Not quite fitting for a brand though. Further research led me to the Iowa state flag. Its patriotic colors are blue, white, and red. Blue is the color of honesty, in color psychology, so I opted to explore that further. I created a monochromatic blue color palette. All that remained is a Logotype.

Small Business Logotype

I wanted to come up with something that evoked small town. So I wanted to find a font that felt classic, vintage, and organic. Something that appeared like the old style handpainted window signs would be ideal. That’s when I found the Fountain Typeface. With some manual adjustments, the typeface was born. I added the Ida Grove, IA sub-headline to help push the small town aspect. I created a supporting logotype encased within a circle, for instances when the full logotype was not practical. I also used it on the main information side of the business card. I chose the Josefin Sans typeface to contrast the fluid strokes of Fountain, the two complimented each other nicely.

Small Business Imagery

I found a royalty-free farm photo from IA and used that with a monotone filter for the imagery on the business card background. I then submitted the business cards to the client who loved them but had only one revision. The wanted to use a photo from their actual farm. So they sent me 3 images to choose from, and I updated the business cards with the new image. The new file was received with open arms and smiles all around.