Don’t worry, I know why you’re here.
You’re an entrepreneur. One of the brave ones. You’re creative, you have ideas, you want to make your business work on your own terms. You probably wrote ‘self starter’ or ‘works with initiative’ as the first bullet point on every CV you’ve ever sent out to employers who just weren’t enough for you. And now, finally, you’ve done it – struck out on your own. And suddenly you have to know how to do everything, because when you start your own business you are every department – finance, marketing, IT, customer service. It’s all you. And you have to know how to brand and market your business.
So, branding. I know, it’s a biggie. It can be a little overwhelming to know that you are responsible for developing an identity for your company, one that people like and feel drawn to and even, please god, hand over money to. And this is your business, your baby – you don’t want to get it wrong. So what do you do?
You could hire an expert – branding consultants are awesome at crafting brands, that’s their whole deal. You could hire a designer – also an excellent idea, and probably necessary further down the road. But you just started out, and there’s that pesky thing that brand consultants and designers tend to ask for. Oh yeah – money.
If you have it, make the investment – we’re honestly worth every penny when it comes to this stuff. But how about the stuff that you can do yourself? There’s lots of it, to be honest – after all you’re creative, you have ideas, you started up a business for god’s sake. And there’s some simple steps you can take right from the beginning to build your business as an awesome brand.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
Building a solid and engaging brand is about more than just great design. Don’t get me wrong, design is really, really important – but without a strategic basis, a pretty design is all it will ever be. Branding is really about telling a story, and it needs to be a story that is imprinted into EVERY SINGLE facet of your business. So take some time to think about what your story will be, and how you want that story to make people feel. This is the cornerstone of your brand, the thing that makes you special. Try to define it in three words. These three words are the pillars that you will build your brand upon.
THINK ABOUT YOUR AIMS
Define what it is you’re trying to communicate with your branding in one sentence. Yes, it should be that succinct. For example;
“I want to make my prospective client feel that they can trust me to develop their social media strategy based on my extensive experience and depth of knowledge”
“I want to make brides who land on my website feel so swept away by the beauty and romance of my photographs that they will happily pay my premium price tag to photograph their wedding”
See already how different the branding direction is going to be for those two businesses?
LOOK AT WHAT YOUR DIRECT COMPETITORS ARE DOING
With a productive mindset ONLY. You’re not going to copy what they’re doing, you’re going to analyse it so that you can figure out how to stand apart from the crowd. Look at their website, their social media accounts and their print materials if you can get your hands on them. Who are they? Who are their customers? What is their branding conveying to you, and how does it make you feel? Chances are their customers will be your customers, so you need to figure out how to reach them. Where are they targeting their efforts, and where do their customers hang out?
DEFINE YOUR DREAM CLIENT
Imagine the person that would contact you about your product / service in an ideal scenario – your dream client. Be specific, use your imagination – target clients are more than a gender and an age range. Who are they? What do they do, where do they hang out, who are their friends and influencers? Think about their drivers – what are their wants, needs and passions? What makes them say YES, basically. The success of your brand will rest on making these people feel a certain way when they encounter it.
FIND YOUR INSPIRATION
This is the fun bit! Scour Pinterest, make mood boards, think about how the visual aspects of your branding will look. This isn’t just about what you like, it’s about how you’re going to represent your brand aims and story visually in a way that will appeal to your dream client. Consider colours, typography and style direction – a hand drawn calligraphy logo in pink wouldn’t work for our trust-worthy social media strategy expert above, just as a black and red grunge logo isn’t going to sell any premium packages for our wedding photographer.
WHAT’S YOUR TONE?
Something people forget quite often when they’re thinking about branding their business is the tone of voice that they use in their content. Copywriting is a vital part of building a cohesive brand identity – think about the way in which you want to speak to your ideal clients to make them want to come back for more. Are you bubbly and sparkly? Reassuring and trustworthy? Aspirational and knowledgeable? The tone of voice that you choose for your brand should be consistent across all your marketing copy, website content, sales copy – absolutely everything should reflect your core brand and resonate with your dream client.
HOW WILL YOU SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE
Now that you have outlined the core elements of your brand identity, it’s time to decide what you need in the way of branding materials to effectively market your business to your defined dream client and to achieve your identified aims. This could be just a logo design that you can use as a blog header and profile image for social media accounts, a suite of print materials like business cards, a thank you note and a price list, or even things like product tags, packaging or branded coffee cups. However you reach your dream client, your brand should be consistent across every piece of communication they receive from you, from their first visit to your website to the delivery of their purchase or final project invoice.
CONSISTENCY. CONSISTENCY. CONSISTENCY
I cannot stress this enough. You can have the most beautiful logo in the world, that clearly represents everything your brand stands for – but if the rest of your business doesn’t communicate the same message, it’s not going to look professional.
Now that you know the steps to take to get your brand basics in order, go to it! Subscribe below to download your free branding basics workbook.