How To Build A Brand
Your brand is (almost) everything. Whether you’re a dentist, an accountant, or a builder, you have a brand. Because a brand is, simply put, how the outside world perceives a business. As a company, to build a brand is to build a reputation. It’s the environment in which you operate, the packaging of your products, your website, your content, your customer service and your members of staff.
It’s absolutely crucial for a business to get their branding right if they’re going to thrive and flourish. The problem is, when we see great brands from the outside we’re only seeing the end result. The question is how did they get to where they are? What are the foundations on which these successful brands are built?
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.
The natural next step, once an idea has been established, is to really consider the purpose of the brand. Why does your product/service exist? What problems can you solve for people? What makes you different, and why do you do what you do? The answers to these questions will form a solid foundation from which you can move forward.
Having a purpose is having a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s one of the real driving forces behind a good brand, and having a clear and well-defined purpose could, in the end, be the difference between success and failure in the long-run.
Research your audience
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 all important questions. And some good, thorough research can help you come up with the answers.
It’s OK for a business to say that they sell t-shirts, but who’s buying them? Women? Men? Teenagers? Adults? The brand’s job is to connect to a particular audience and make them feel as though they’re understood. If a customer thinks “This brand really speaks to me” then they’re likely to come back again and again.
Research your competitors
It’s not about copying the styles or approaches of other successful brands. It’s about observing what works and what doesn’t. Seeing how successful competitors attract their customers can be a great source of inspiration for your own branding efforts.
A good idea is to take notes of any persistent trends within your particular industry or niche. You might notice a certain kind of language or visual style being used. From there you can suitably adjust your own branding to either align with or buck the trends, depending on your preference and objectives.
The main priority is to differentiate, in the most unique and creative ways possible, from your competitors. That way you’ll establish yourself as a unique presence.
Create a brand manifesto
When you build a brand, creating a brand manifesto can be an invaluable resource. It contains all the relevant details and information regarding what your brand is and how it should manifest under various circumstances. When done properly, a brand manifesto becomes an indispensable reference point for brand building.
A manifesto helps to clarify what your brand’s strategy is. Once you’ve built a strategy, you can align it with all future advertisements and communications. This way everything your brand produces – every ad, email, product, service, and impression – will follow the same theme and communicate the same message.
The golden circle
The concept of the golden circle is the brainchild of Simon Sinek. The circle, visualised like an archer target, consists of three rings: what (outer ring), how (middle ring), why (inner ring). It’s helpful to keep this concept in mind as it neatly encapsulates some of the points we’ve already touched in this post.
What refers to the products/services you offer.
How is about what differentiates you from the competition.
Why refers to your passions and why you exist.
Now comes the visual manifestation of the brand. The important thing here is not to fear experimentation. 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.
The Many Faces Of Branding
For more branding tips from a slightly different angle, why not take a look at our guide to the craft of audio branding.