Building a Brand

We hear the term branding a lot in today's social media-saturated environment, but a brand is more than many think. A brand isn’t as simple as adding your logo to the corner of a stock photo. Bringing is everything from your colors and font to how you can position yourself in the marketplace.

The best way to think about your brand is as if it is a person since everyone has a different personality and tendencies, and you can generally form your expectations of a person once you get to know them. Your audience should be able to do the same with your brand - know what your company stands for, what your general tone is, what your products aim to solve or provide for them.

What are you selling or providing?

The first thing you need to define is what you’re offering. What product or service will you be trying to sell? This will help you determine who your target audience is, and who you need to sell to. I know what you’re thinking: “But I want to sell to EVERYONE”, which is a good goal, but all marketers know, you need to target your audience and create brand reliability and company recognition first, and that will help you sell to those outside your target audience. Think of it as “low hanging fruit”, you pick it first, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the tree is off limits.

What is your product or service going to accomplish or solve? What is your goal?

You know who you want to sell to, by why would they want to buy it? What will your product do for them? Generally, to pinpoint this, the company as a whole needs a goal, not just the product. This is often called a mission statement. Mission statements are formal summaries of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual. Outline the key qualities and benefits your brand is offering.

They usually define what the company does:

  • For its customers

  • For its employees

  • For its owners

  • For its community, and

  • For the world

Writing your missions statement helps you revise your company’s goals, culture, vision, and generally how you make decisions. Write your own mission statement that answers the aforementioned defining aspects, and ensures it is precise. The stronger your mission statement the better.

Who are your competitors?

This seems a little counterproductive, doesn’t it? We have been talking about to define YOU and YOUR company, so why should we look at others? Good question. Looking at your corporate competitors is for evaluation and study, not emulation. You want to define what choices they made that helped them become successful. They have already survived the market you intend to enter, which makes their experience extremely beneficial to you. Check out marketing trends, tone, and presence on social media, and see how you can implement this in a way that is true to you and your brand. This works for their shortcomings, too. Do you see something missing that you know the audience wants? Do you think they overlooked avenues and/or opportunities? Capitalize on this! Ensure you don’t do the same thing!

Get creative!

Now we can finally get to the part we have all been waiting for - logos, colors, fonts and more! Outlining what specific colors will represent your brand can be more taxing than you originally expected, so take it easy, and make a few different options. If you already have members on your team, consult them and ask them to help in the design and idea stage of this process. It’s important to note that this goes beyond color schemes and logos. When building the visual representation of your brand, you want to consider the following:

  • Color Palette

  • Typography and fonts

  • Web elements

  • Logo design, size, and placement

  • Iconography

  • Photography or image style

Compiling this in a document will help you determine if it is the best visual representation of your brand, and if so, a great reference as you use it to reach your audience.

Form your brand voice

Once you know you’re selling, why you’re selling it, and what that product of service is doing for them you need to break down HOW you want to sell them the product and your brand. Are you purely professional, friendly, down-to-earth? Now that you have answered who and what you are selling, you should have a more clear idea what sort of marketing and connection would be the most beneficial to your customer.

Some examples of mainstream companies and their brand voice:

  • Old Spice - Comical

  • Dollar Shave Club - Witty

  • Harley Davidson - Aggressive

  • Jif Peanut butter - Personal

Each has found the right voice that connects them with their audience and makes them memorable to everyone.

Pitch it!

Now that you have all the most important questions answered, and strategy underway, you need to find a way to pitch your idea. Oftentimes called an “Elevator Pitch” because you should be able to sell a person on your product or idea in the time you ride the elevator with them; making this pitch in its essence, short and concise. This mini speech should talk about you: who you are, what you do and offer, and why it's awesome. You can use this at expos, networking events, in online bios, etc. It is a great way to gain confidence in your brand, and be able to instill that confidence in those you interact with.

Bonus points if you have a business card ready!

Put it into action!

You have finished all the heavy lifting, now you just need to make it happen! Rework your website, update your business cards, hire the right people, and keep the brand consistent. Remind yourself of the whys, hows, who’s etc. This will help you stay aligned with your audience and yourself.