By definition, a small business doesn’t have a lot of employees or resources to help them reach their goals and fulfill their dreams (when compared to a large corporation). This means that it’s incredibly important for a small business’s brand and marketing materials to do more than be “just pretty” — they need to be effective as well. In order to be effective, your small business’s brand needs to work for your business, and its’ job description includes these 7 functions:

1. Building trust. You want your brand to inspire your customers to trust you and your company. You also want your clients to look at your brand designs and say, “That’s a company that delivers on its promises.” To do this, you want to make sure that the promises you’re making visually with your brand designs are believable from your clients’ perspective and possible for you to fulfill. In other words, don’t over promise or under deliver.

2. Increasing credibility. This means that your designs should assure your clients that you are an expert in your field. Your brand can help show them that you have this experience by being clear and consistent, and by being thorough enough to make you look established.

3. Communicating. Your brand should tell your unique, compelling story. To define your business’s story, ask yourself these questions: Why are you doing this? What are you helping people with? Finally, you’ll need to determine how you are different from your competition — what makes you unique. This uniqueness can help your customers identify why they would want to work with you instead of with anyone else.

4. Raising confidence. Your brand can build your confidence in marketing your business, and can increase consumer confidence in buying your products and services. Having a brand that looks great can make you feel more enthusiastic about marketing. And, receiving those marketing materials that look great can help make a client feel more comfortable about spending money with you.

5. Making your business more memorable. 40% of people better remember things that they see — as opposed to things that they read or hear. Because of this, the visual part of your brand — like your logo, color palette, fonts that you use and even the backgrounds that appear in your marketing materials — can really help make you memorable.

After a potential client has seen your brand a few times — received your card at a networking event, been to your web site, read a few issues of your newsletter — they should remember having seen it. Then they will be more likely to spontaneously remember your business when they have a need for your products and services.

6. Helping your business grow — and to grow with you. Your brand should support your business as it grows, allowing you to create all the marketing pieces you need to follow through with your business plans and meet your goals. This may mean making sure that your logo translates into embroidery so that you can make uniforms. Or, it may mean that you have many flexible elements in your brand, so that you can create marketing pieces for different programs that can be instantly distinguished from one another. It may also mean that your brand needs to stay on the cutting edge of new media (animation, video, etc.) and social media.

7. Standing out from the competition. You want your brand to look more polished and professional than your competitors’ brands. It should be unified and consistent, which both go a long way towards making a small business rise above the rest. Your brand will also stand out if it performs the other 6 functions listed here, with communicating and raising confidence being especially important to standing out.

Those are the 7 functions of a small business brand: building trust, increasing your credibility, communicating your brand story, raising confidence, making your business memorable, contributing to growth and helping your business stand out. These all contribute to creating a brand that will be effective to market with, and that will help you connect with your best customers.