Things to keep in mind while building your brand? Your brand is everything!! It is who the outside world sees. It is the personality that creates relationships with your audience. It is what people recognize first. Your brand is who your business is.

What is a brand?

Brands are what help a business be recognized by the public. It can identify a company, product, individual, or service. Brands are the concept that shapes people’s perceptions of you. This includes every aspect of your business’s identity, including but not limited to personality, values, and visuals.

Why do I need one?

I can’t say it enough. Branding is key! There are so many reasons that your business needs a strong brand in order to succeed. First, and probably most commonly known, is that good branding improves recognition. If people don’t know your brand when they see it, and if they don’t remember your brand when they are in need of your service, you are going to lose a lot of potential sales.

Having a strong brand also creates trust. Just like you are more likely to do something recommended by a family member or friend, strong branding creates that same feeling with your customers. Branding helps to present you as a professional, excelling in what you do.

Advertising is practically impossible without powerful branding. The goal of advertising is to let people know who you are, and convince them that they need your product or service. If your brand isn’t where it needs to be, they won’t either remember you or trust you. See above.

Building your Brand Purpose

Finding your brand’s mission is the first step in building your reputation. Selecting an industry you want to work in and then hoping that people connect with you is not enough to build a brand. Instead, you must clearly explain how your followers will benefit from you. The core of your brand is your purpose. Consider your audience and the issue you are resolving for them.

Positioning your brand in the market

You must take the time to research your peers and rivals after determining the purpose of your brand. When you can look at others’ mistakes and experiences, why spend hours researching your audience? What can you learn from what they are doing well and how can you improve or change it? Keep your uniqueness in mind as you make the necessary preparations to be recognized in your field.

Defining your Brands Personality

Just like there is with anybody, a lot of different elements go into your brand’s personality. Now I know we keep saying the word personality and that can be a bit confusing. How can a brand have a personality when it is not a person?? But that is kind of the point. Brands exist to create relationships with customers. Relationships are formed from one person to another. Therefore, you need your brand to feel like a person your audience wants to be friends with.

Mission Statement

A mission statement helps to define your purpose, audience, and unique position all in one thought. Having this statement will help you be able to visualize your brand easily as a persona. It will also help your customers know and understand your value to them right from the start. Consider memorizing this statement as a one-liner you can use when people ask you what it is you do.

Your mission statement should be 1-2 sentences that explain your purpose as a business in a simple, yet interesting way. Make certain that your mission statement does 2 things: communicates your purpose and positions you as uniquely valuable or, at the very least, distinctive, identifying you as unique within the market for style, personality, etc.

Brand Name

I know you have been waiting for this step. And that you probably already have some ideas in mind as to what you want your brand to be known for. But let’s take a minute or two and really think about your options in a strategic way.

When creating a brand name, there is so much strategy involved. Your brand name should communicate information about your business. It should be easy to remember, and easy to spell. Don’t be afraid to spend some time brainstorming options. Your first idea isn’t always your best. There are a multitude of methods to creating a brand name. Something to keep in mind through this process is that it’s not about you. I say this a lot but that’s because it is so important to remember. It is so easy to get distracted by what you like and what you find engaging. Always put yourself in the mind of your ideal customer.

It can be tempting to name your brand for something that means a lot to you, but make sure that your name communicates what you do and what your focus is to your clients.

Buyer Persona

We have talked a bit about keeping your ideal customer in mind as you go through these steps. Now it is time to really flesh out who that person is.

Are you aiming your marketing at everyone? Or do you have a specific customer in mind? Are you reaching that customer or a completely different group of people? The first step in marketing is to know who you are marketing to. This is called your target market. Creating a buyer persona is a great way to make sure that you have that perfect customer in mind as a real person that you can use to target the content you create.

Your buyer persona will cover everything about this person. Their basic demographics, their values, and ideals, their habits, their family, etc. You are going to build your perfect customer from the ground up. They will be the base of everything you do in your business.

Brand Values

Just like any other person, your brand needs to have values. What characteristics are important to your company? What does your brand believe in? What causes does your brand support? When you can answer these questions, you should have the values for your brand. Make sure that these values are always represented in your content, products, and services from your brand. Shared values are the base of any long-term successful relationship, yes, even in business.

Slogan/Tagline

This isn’t always necessary, but it can be good to have a short, catchy phrase for your customers to associate with your business. Slogans are meant to convey the brand’s hope and purpose in a short, simple, and meaningful way. They should be clever and easy to remember.

Voice/Writing Style

Now I might catch some flak for this, but I’m going to lump voice and writing style together. The gist is the same. The basic strategies are interchangeable. The main thing is to create a way for your company to sound like its own person, across all media channels.

It is important to be consistent in your writing style. As your company grows, there is going to be more than one person writing for your company. To ensure that your writing stays on brand with the personality you developed, it is important that you take the time to create guidelines for everyone to follow to keep your writing in sync with your vision.

Creating your Brands Visual Identity

This is my favorite part, but also the easiest to overthink. (Don’t tell the rest of the steps.) I am a very visual person and so much of what we do nowadays is very much a visual endeavor first. These next steps will help you make those tough decisions for your brand.

Brand guide

Every brand should have a set of guides to help you stay on brand. At the very least, this should be a sheet with your visual guidelines and a mood board. What I recommend to every brand is to have a book made that includes ALL of the decisions you will have made for your brand, as well as specific implementation strategies and do’s and don’ts for application.

Logo

Your logo should communicate your brand name, values, and purpose in a visually interesting way. It should be unique, and recognizable. Different elements can give your brand a different feeling. Make sure that what you create aligns with your purpose and goals as you have established previously in this process.

Variations

No matter how perfect your main logo is, it is a good idea to have several versions of your logo for use across different media. What you put in your business card and website might not work well as an icon for an app or a profile photo on social media.

Fonts

Font choices and pairings are one of the biggest factors in how professional your brand appears. There is a big difference between playful fonts such as Cabin Sketch and a clean serif font such as Montserrat. A wisely chosen font pairing can help people identify with your brand faster than any other visual element.

You should have no more than three (3) different fonts for your company.

1. Your first font should be a display font, which means that it is more elaborate, and is more recognizable. This would be a font used in your logo to display your company name.

2. Your second font would be used for your body copy. Any long paragraph format writing that your business does should be in this font. It is important that this font choice is easy to read.

3. The third font is optional. If you choose to have a third font, it would be a font used for headings and other bold information in your business.

If you have too many fonts, your look will feel disconnected and busy. Your viewers will be left feeling confused about who you are and what they are meant to connect with. Less is always more.

Colors

When you are selecting the colors for your brand, it is important to make sure that the colors work well together and give off the feeling and values that you are wanting your business to invoke in your audience. A good place to start might be by assembling a mood board.

Print Package

Even in today’s digital age, there are many times you will want for oriented branded materials. Here are a few every business should have to get started.

Business Cards

Your business card will often be a person’s first physical impression of your business. It is important to be consistent with the logos, colors, and fonts that you have decided on. Bring your personality to the brand, but make sure the information is still easy to find and use for your customers. You want them to hold on to the card and remember who you are when they need your services.

Letterheads

Even in the digital age, you will always need a good letterhead. You will need this for every document and letter you create and send in your business, even if they are just included in an email.

Marketing materials

What you may need in terms of printed marketing materials will vary from business to business. Some ideas to think about include pamphlets, flyers, coupons, posters, postcards, door hangers, menus, and booklets just to name a few.

Photography

The same goes for your photography. You will have many people creating content for you. There are many different styles to take photos and even more ways to edit the photos after the shot is taken. It’s a good idea to create guidelines as to how photos should be taken, as well as set filters and edits that should be done to each photo.

Website

Your website is a crucial part of creating credibility for your business. The web is the first place many people look for products and services they are in need of. Having a digital presence is critical. Social media is a great way to do this, but first, you need a place for those social platforms to lead your customers back to purchase from you.

Online Platforms

It is important for your company to have a digital presence. But you don’t have to appear on every online and social media platform there is. Start with 1 or 2 places that you know your target market uses on a regular basis. Get established there, and then you can grow to other platforms. It is always better to start small and then grow. For a more in-depth look at social media, read through our guide to social media marketing for small businesses.