Many people think developing a brand is the first thing that happens before a business is even set up but in reality most businesses identities do not form until quite far along in their development. The majority of small business owners will appreciate this. A sole trader might pick up a client here and a client there and before long, word of mouth spreads, their client list snowballs and they suddenly find themselves running a thriving business. Often it is only when a business decides to expand substantially that the idea of branding and logo design arises. However, just because branding was not a forethought does not mean it should be an afterthought. You only get one chance to make a first impression and most of the time that is through your branding. Once upon a time companies simply made up their branding based on how they felt about the brand or perhaps by copying the branding of a similar business that had been successful. Later these decisions were influenced by the availability of market research. However this was costly and usually only the largest companies could avail of it. Online Market Research Fortunately even small businesses with limited marketing budgets now have access to an incredible resource for free, the internet. #1. Online Survey One way to test branding is to use an email survey system like Survey Monkey. These sites are filled with numerous survey templates specifically designed for testing branding. With this kind of survey you can see how a target market reacts to a number of different designs or branding approaches before committing to one in particular. It is much better to find out that your target audience thinks your logo looks more like a chicken than a dinosaur before you start printing up banners and stationary. #2. Online Testing Another way businesses test online features is through A/B testing. This is often used for testing the effectiveness of different sign-up page designs. When visitors arrive at the page they will be randomly shown one of the two designs. If one performs significantly better than the other that suggests it is a more appealing design. This can even be applied to a homepage with two different pages featuring different logo designs being shown as visitors arrive. Analytics software can show which layout people spent more time on and which fed more traffic through to the rest of the site. #3. Social Media While it may not result in the clear, categorical data of a survey, social media can be useful as a test of how your branding might be received on the open market. If you already have a presence on social media you could simply send out designs to your followers and friends and ask for feedback. Social Media research integrates well with competitions to improve traction. This can have additional promotional benefits. Many companies use a change in branding as an opportunity to promote the company. Of course, the business owner must still ultimately come up with a company or product’s branding, based on the characteristics and qualities they feel represent the brand. Professional designers will help them develop those ideas into images and styles. What the internet offers business owners is a simple and cost effective means of finding out how their target market will respond to those ideas. Images: “Research word button on keyboard with soft focus/ Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.