Are you thinking about starting a business but are not sure where to start? In our ‘Getting Started’ series, we’ll cover the fundamentals that you should tackle when it comes to taking the leap and becoming an entrepreneur. We’ll cover everything from eCommerce platforms to marketing. First up in the series is Building a brand.
What is in a brand? It’s not just a household name or a memorable logo. Branding involves so much more. Your brand is made up of many different components that all add up to how people perceive your business and the feelings it evokes. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos puts it as, “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Your brand is your reputation.
With literally billions of businesses on the market, strong branding helps differentiate your business from your competitors. So let’s go through some branding basics.
What’s in a brand?
Branding can be broken down into three broad categories:
Brand strategy maps out your market differentiation. What does your business offer that no one else can? It’s your blueprint outlining your purpose, promise, and solution.
Brand identity is the way that you convey your brand strategy to the public through visuals, messaging, and overall experience. This includes your logo, colors and fonts, voice and tone, and more.
Brand marketing is how you grow your brand. There are many different channels that you can amplify your brand such as:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine marketing (SEO and PPC)
- Email marketing
In this article, we’ll be going over brand strategy and brand identity. Look out for future posts in this series where we cover the elements of brand marketing in more depth.
Building a brand strategy
1. Research, research, research: Before you do anything, you must research your target audience and your competitors. This information is important as it will inform what your brand should focus on and how to differentiate. A few ways to research include:
- Google your offering and pay attention to what other brands come up
- “Eavesdrop” on sites like Twitter and Reddit to find out what potential customers are saying about related products
- Interview your target market to gain insight into the language your customers use and topics they are interested in
2. Define your mission: In this day and age, customers are looking to give their business to companies that align with their personal values. Research from Shopify has shown that online shoppers will research a company to learn more about their mission and purpose. Think of your mission as your differentiating claim or promise to your customers. Is your company based around a social purpose like TOMS or dedicated to sustainability like Everlane?
3. Choose a business name. A brand is much more than a name but the name is pretty important. Your company name is one of the first impressions of your brand and has many implications such as logo, domain, and marketing efforts.
Select a slogan: While this is not necessary, a slogan helps ensure your brand is more memorable. A slogan is something short, catchy, and reflective of your brand. Think of Nike’s “Just do it”.
Defining your brand identity
Below are the basic elements you need to consider when creating a brand identity:
A brand personality is exactly what it sounds like: elements that breathe life into your brand. This is an important part of brand building and will help inform everything from creative design and visuals to voice and tone. A typical exercise to establish your brand personality is to think of adjectives that would describe what you want your brand to be. Is your brand lighthearted or serious? Is it relaxing or intense? Is it classic or innovative? Another common way to think of your brand is as a person and to brainstorm qualities he or she would have.
The majority of brand identity is your branding design, the visual aspect, which will come in handy when you start to develop your website. This includes:
- Logo: As the “face” of your business, your logo tells the world what your business stands for. You’ll want a logo that’s unique, memorable, and flexible enough to be used in various channels and places.
- Color palette: Colors don’t just define the look of your brand, they also help convey your brand strategy and help you weave it through everything that you do. Be mindful when choosing colors. For example, you’ll want to choose colors that are not too similar to your competitors.
- Fonts: Fonts will help you maintain that consistency throughout your brand touchpoints. To avoid confusion, choose no more than two fonts.
According to a Nielson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy products from brands that are familiar to them. A strong brand identity will not only help you gain new customers but will also help you establish brand loyalty and turn those customers into advocates.
Once you have ironed out your brand strategy and identity, make sure that both are consistently present across your business to ensure that you’re telling a cohesive brand story.
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