Stand out from the crowd, says Devon business writer Sid Gibson

Sid Gibson, photographed by Matt Austin

Sid Gibson, photographed by Matt Austin - Credit: Matt Austin

Starting up a new business? Over half a million businesses starting up in the last 12 months create a challenge for anyone hoping to stand out and be successful by making their firm recognised and heard above bigger competitors.

Sid Gibson

Sid Gibson - Credit: Matt Austin

The good news is that new and small businesses don’t have to spend unnecessary cash or be a big company to make a big impression.

Knowing what makes a strong and recognisable corporate identity which attracts customers (and identity isn’t just visual and ‘looking nice’) gives the power to get firms noticed and helps build a reputation. The right identity provides a multitude of competitive advantages and is just as important a consideration as every other aspect of running a business.

Despite the benefits there is still too little understanding, or indeed too much misunderstanding, of the importance of design and communication. This is brilliant news because savvy entrepreneurs can exploit the situation to gain an advantage over competitors, maximise opportunities to promote their firm’s strengths and uniqueness, be confident of immediate recognition, and have a secure base for introducing new brands, products and services.

So how do you set about achieving these benefits?

First, look at visual image, and the way in which words are used to describe the company, both as a promising welcome to new customers and as a reassurance for established ones. Use visuals and words skilfully and you’ll have powerful sales tools as important as any other in your armoury.

Second, you’ll find creating the right identity for your business a lot more tangible and cost effective than simply cobbling things together as you go along according to any odd short term requirement of the moment. Be vigilant and stay in control of maintaining consistent style in every tiny visual detail - fonts, colours, layout etc from seemingly insignificant printed items through to glossy brochures, web site, advertisements, signs and presentation of premises, vehicle graphics. Everything.

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Third, everything you say in print, everything you and your colleagues say about the business must underscore the principles of your chosen identity. It sounds obvious right here but you won’t have to look far to see how many others are getting it all wrong!

Essentially it’s no big deal. It’s simplicity in itself when your adopted identity is systematically applied to individual elements, but the benefits are real, proven, and worthwhile. Just do it consistently from the start, think in advance and stay in control. n

Sid Gibson FCSD offers a wealth of knowledge to those new to running a business in his book, Does My Firm Look Big in This?, which is packed with straightforward hands-on know-how, the right questions to ask, and practical guidance on how to promote and build an effective identity for new start-up and small businesses that ensures it gets noticed, whatever the size. In Sid’s next columns for Devon Life Business & Professional, find out how to start, and where identity works, how it creates a path to realise customer’s expectations, and also some of the pitfalls to watch out for.

Win a copy of the book

Does My Firm Look Big in This? is available direct from publishers Management Books 2000 Ltd at, from Amazon and to order from all good bookshops. You can win yourself a copy of the book in our special competition. To enter please answer the question below by March 31.

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