Elon Musk said, “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” When people create brands, they’re working really hard to put their best foot forward, put out a really polished brand identity, and convince people they’ve got something great going on. This is all well and good, but if you don’t have the stellar product or service to actually back it up, you’re bound to fail, even with the best branding.
So how do you go about building a brand from scratch? It can be a challenge in the infancy stage of a business when funds are limited, but there are a few focus areas that will help you hit the ground running.
- Solve a Problem/Find Your Purpose. Figure out where there’s a unique need and how you can creatively meet that need for your client-base. What sets you apart from competitors? What makes you uniquely purposeful and driven?
- Do Your Research. Learn everything you can about the industry, your competition and your client-base. Research key demographics, character traits and what fuels their purchasing decisions. Learn about where they spend their time and what kind of communication resonates with them.
- Nail Down Your Main Business Information. List out key words that describe your business – goals, mission, values, etc. Use that list and the market research you’ve done to guide you in picking a business name, tagline, and mission and values statements. Enlist people in your target market to help you evaluate your possible names/taglines/mission and value statements to help you revise and pick the one that resonates the best with them. Remember that you are meeting a need for your clients, so your business needs to appeal to them, not just you.
- Develop Your Style. Depending on who you are, this is the fun part, or the really intimidating part. It’s best to hire a professional to develop the visuals for the brand. They will ensure that colors, fonts and designs are selected intentionally and that you get the best quality and formats that you’ll need to implement your visual brand across platforms and media. You’ll need to think through your different use cases and make sure you receive logo lockups that will be successful for each case. For example, you may want a horizontal lockup that works well for vehicle graphics and banners, an icon only lockup for small tags and stamps, and a third option for stationary, social media, etc. You’ll want to ensure accessibility by selecting fonts that are readable and colors that evoke the emotions you’re going for.
- Apply Your Visual Brand Across Platforms and Media. It’s 2022, you’re going to need a professional website to build credibility and provide convenience for your client-base. You’ll want a marketing plan that includes some combination of social media, influencer marketing, brand partnerships, event partnerships/sponsorships, other digital marketing and print collateral. You’ll also want to think about how you can use your brand elements creatively to make things special for both your employees and customers.
- Evaluate and Revise. By being intentional about your mission, vision and values and doing your research to determine who your target market really is and what sets you apart from competitors, you can use those documents to evaluate your work against as you grow and evolve. Hold up your materials and practices against those originating documents to see if you are staying true to your brand or if you need to revise and refocus your efforts.
While having a well thought out and professionally developed brand is important, remember it’s only as good as the people running the show and the products or services you’re putting out there. The public will eventually be able to see through a fraudulent brand, so make sure your focus is always acting with integrity, being trustworthy and developing meaningful relationships. The brand recognition and support will follow.