Astrong brand can elevate your product or service from a solution to a problem, into a much greater experience. With the right branding efforts, you’ll be able to shape your customers’ perception of what it is that you stand for, and resonate deeply with your client base.
While establishing a brand requires a long, soul-searching process for some businesses, it can also be kicked off with a much quicker procedure when needed.
Whether you’re creating a business from scratch, or are looking to reinforce your existing business, this guide will cover everything you can do to craft a strong brand in just a few simple steps. From developing the right concept to creating your own logo and website, this article will cover the assets required in branding, and explain how to build a brand quickly and effectively:
A brand is the unique point of view which sets a business apart from its competition, while doing so intentionally, with planning and strategy. Put simply, a brand is the way a business is perceived, or the story that it chooses to tell. This story should repeat itself across all of the various means in which audiences come into contact with the brand, amounting to a cohesive and unified brand identity. These assets are many and diverse: from the name of the business, to its visual look-and-feel, and the written language it applies.
While this article refers to the branding of businesses, the information presented here is equally applicable to personal branding efforts, too.
Before diving deep into your brand, start by developing a strong grasp of the playing field you’re part of. Conduct market research in which you define your target audience and look up your direct and indirect competitors.
Target audience: First, try to understand who your customers are. Create buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers. Do this by writing down a list of things you know about them or envision them to be, such as their age, occupation and interests.
These fictional characters will help you identify your target audience. By knowing who your customers are, it’ll be much easier for you to create a brand that addresses their real needs and speaks their language.
Get to know your audience better by visiting the online environments that they usually frequent, from the right social media hashtags to favorite subreddits. Try and see what gets them excited, what their favorite products are, and how they talk to one another.
Market competitors: Second, see which other companies or services are already targeting this same market. To do so, identify your industry and niche, and search online for competitors within that industry. This would ideally be the time to do a SWOT analysis, but if you’d rather speed things up, simply taking mental notes of each company’s strengths, style, and tone, will also go a long way.
Check your competitors’ websites and social media channels, paying close attention to everything from the design to the marketing strategy. Try to see what works and what doesn’t. Think of any must-haves that you’d like to include in your own brand, as well as any elements that are missing or could be improved.
Now is the time to dream up everything you want your brand to be. Good branding is about what sets a business apart, which requires you to commit to a smaller, well-defined niche. A recommended practice for this is to compose a list of adjectives that describe your company’s character, as if you were talking about a person. Would it be better portrayed as classy or trendy? Is it reliable and mature, or edgy and youthful?
Next, think about the story you wish your brand to tell. A story makes it easier for audiences to connect and relate to a brand, making them feel like they share similar goals or stand for the same ideas. Your brand story will be made up of your core values, the value you offer and your mission statement. To get started, answer the following three questions: What does your business do? How does it do it? And why?
Try and think about what makes your offering unique, and what your motivation is for doing the work that you do. Even more importantly, try to view your business from the point of view of your customers, and think about what can benefit them in your work or product, and what can make them care about it deeply.
For example, does your delivery service aim to send out items as fast as possible, or do you focus on your superb customer service? Maybe you only use degradable packaging in your deliveries, because being green-friendly is at the core of your business? Or perhaps your delivery service is family-owned and you know everyone in town by name? Your answers to these questions will help you shape your brand’s personality.
Going forward, your understanding of what your brand is all about should shine through in all of your various branding assets, and anything else that your business takes part in.
The question of how to name a business is hardly ever easy to answer. A good name can greatly improve your business’s brandability and credibility, helping you convey your essence right off the bat.
Look for a name that’s short and sweet, easy to pronounce and memorable. This will let people recognize you easily. Try and reflect something about your brand personality – from your core values, to your product. If we go back to our delivery service example, this business can pick a name to highlight either its speed and efficiency, or its close-knit, familiar style.
Another important point to keep in mind when choosing a name, is the option to scale and grow in the future. Go for a name that represents your business, while keeping your options open for expanding your practice down the line. For example, if you currently give private tutoring lessons, but are dreaming of one day branching out and creating an online course – make sure that the name you choose for your brand will accommodate your future business plans just as well.
Be mindful of choosing a name that hasn’t been claimed yet. Look up your name of choice on search engines and social media platforms, and check to see that it’s available as a domain name, as you’ll probably want to create a website for your brand if you haven’t done so already.
In addition to a name, try to come up with a short slogan for your business which captures what your brand is all about. It should sum up in very few words the spirit and values of your brand, while being catchy, impactful and memorable.
Although not all businesses have slogans, these phrases serve as a handy little branding asset, helping people connect to your work. A slogan can show up pretty much everywhere, from your company’s business cards to its Instagram bio.
When crafting a slogan, look to successful catchy slogan examples, from Las Vegas’ “Whatever happens here, stays here,” to Skittles’ “Taste the rainbow.” Notice how these unforgettable sayings do a great job of portraying a certain identity in just a few words – whether it’s a liberated, ‘anything goes’ atmosphere, to the playfulness and colorfulness of candy.
While branding is the culmination of many different assets together, applied consistently and over time – it’s safe to say that your logo is at the very heart of your branding efforts. A logo is often the very first, and most prominent, element which your business presents to the world, and can largely impact the ways in which it’s perceived.
To get you started on how to design a logo, browse through some of the world’s most iconic logo designs for inspiration, like the interlocking C’s in Chanel’s logo, or the handwritten-like Walt Disney signature. Notice that many of these famous logos aren’t literal in their design. Placing your brand’s identity and personality on display, without depicting your actual product is a good logo design tip that may suit your brand.
Once you’ve finalized your design, you can download high-quality image files of your logo and place it everywhere – from your professional website to its much smaller favicon, to branded merchandise, and more. In order for your logo to be scalable and look great on all of these various assets, make sure that your logo is either clearly legible in all sizes, or that it’s a flexible type of logo. A flexible logo means that you have various iterations of your logo that can be used in different contexts. This would allow you to show your full design in most instances, while at other times opt for a more limited version of the logo, such as the icon or wordmark alone.
As an example, you can think of the Lacoste or Puma logo. While their full combination logo is made up of both an icon with a wordmark, they often use the crocodile or puma icon independently of the text – such as in their websites’ homepage design. Of course, some logos are simply one of these options – from a lettermark made up of a particular logo font, to a stand-alone symbol, like Apple.
Another aspect that stems from your brand personality is your brand’s look-and-feel, or your visual language. While this does have to do with the design of your logo, there’s also much more to it.
A visual identity retains a unified vision of a brand, ensuring that all elements and materials are consistent in their appearance. This way, whenever people come across any of your business assets, it would immediately and effortlessly bring your brand to mind.
The visual language that you define for your brand should be used repeatedly all across the board – from your website design to your newsletter design, social media feeds, the design of your products, and your brick and mortar signage.
There are two main elements that make up a brand’s visual identity:
Brand colors: Brand colors are a palette of around five to ten colors, used to represent a certain company. A consistent and strategic application of brand colors can increase brand awareness and recognizability. As an example, think of Google’s quartet of blue, red, green and yellow, or Instagram’s gradient of warm hues. When crafting your business’s color palette, keep color psychology principles in mind. In addition, think of the colors that are most commonly associated with your industry. If we look at the food and restaurant industry, for instance, we see that red, orange and yellow are often used to evoke appetite, while green is usually used to promote notions of well-being. Blue and pink, however, are customary for sweets and desserts.
Font scheme: The typography that your business uses can speak volumes about who you are, and a consistent use of the same one to three fonts will result in a cohesive, easily recognizable look. Consider whether you want to use a traditional serif font (with decorative lines or “tails” on the ends of letter strokes), a more modern sans serif (without such lines), or combine different styles to create beautiful font pairings. While there are many free fonts that you could use, you might want to purchase one or two font licenses for your brand. These fonts, after all, will serve your business for the long run, and it’s helpful to ensure that you’re legally entitled to all of the relevant typographical uses.
Now that your brand has its own visual language, it’s time to hone the textual language to go with it. A brand voice is your style of communication, meaning the ways in which you talk and write to your audience. Your voice should extend to everything from your website’s written content and microcopy, to your email signature, and even the words you choose when talking to clients face-to-face.
Your voice should stem naturally from your brand personality. If your brand is fun-loving and youthful, it can use casual language, and maybe even the occasional slang. If it’s formal and mature, you’d probably prefer professional-sounding language, with industry jargon here and there. Think of the right words to help you sound witty, inspirational, laid back, or any other relevant traits.
The single most important branding tip is consistency. In order for a brand to be effective and connect with its client base as much as you’ve intended, it needs to be applied over and over again.
Use all of the above mentioned elements – your logo, slogan, visual language and brand voice, in anything you create or do as a business.
One recommended method for strengthening your newly-established brand, is by making custom merchandise for your business. Create everything from mugs and tote bags to stickers and business cards that have your branding all over them. You can then distribute them to employees to boost team motivation, or to loyal clients to show your appreciation and gain their trust.