Brand is (almost) everything. Whether you’re a dentist, an accountant, or a builder. An effective brand will almost guarantee to make your business look more trustworthy, more professional, and more experienced. You only need to spend five minutes browsing a magazine or the internet to see a plethora of top-notch branding. Companies like Coca-Cola, Apple, and Virgin are all standout examples of what can be done with good, strong branding.

The problem is, when you come across an advert for Coca-Cola, you’re only seeing the end result. But how did it get to where it is? What are the foundations on which these successful brands are built? What are the building blocks of an effective brand?

Idea

Without an idea, there’s no brand. Everything begins with that one spark of inspiration. And whether it’s a product or a service, the idea always comes first. Unpacking that idea is the origin of your brand. How will it manifest into a business? What will the name be? How should the logo look? Your idea presupposes your brand, and it should inform every branding decision you make. So, for example, if you settle with the idea of making and selling hand-knitted jumpers, the nature of that idea will automatically dictate the direction and form your brand should take. Then you’ll move on to the next stage. . .

Research

Who’s your target audience? What’s their age range? How will you communicate with them? What tone of voice will they respond to? These are the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself. And some good, thorough research will help you come up with the answers.

It’s difficult to build a brand on a vague understanding of what you offer and who you’re offering it to. This is why research is so important. It’s OK to say that you sell t-shirts, but who’s buying them? Women? Men? Teenagers? Adults? Your brand’s job is to connect to a particular audience and make them feel as though you understand them personally. If a customer thinks “This brand really speaks to me” then they’re likely to come back again and again.

Conceptualisation   

Or: The Art Of Not Jumping In With Both Feet. With branding, you should always aim to be in a position where you have several options to choose from. Play around with the colour palette, graphical style, and tone-of-voice. Mock up (or have your designer mock up) a handful of different logos. Then see which one works best for you. Ask friends, family members, and other business owners/professionals for their opinions too. It’s very important at this stage to have choices. There can sometimes be a tendency (especially with newer businesses) to grab at the first idea with both hands. But it’s best to avoid this.

Remember that your brand will be around for a while. It’s how customers perceive your business, and it’s how your business communicates with its customers. So it’s best to weigh up the options first. Really think about what it is that you want your brand to say. It’s like buying a new perfume: you’d want to spray a bit on your wrist before dousing your clothes in it.

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