Business Link: How to Brand Your Business
In any business, the key to success is good and consistent branding. Good branding distinguishes you from your competitors, helping customers and clients understand why your business is the best choice. Then, consistently good branding helps people remember you, increasing their preference for your business. From your first impression to your lasting impression, your brand presence is at the core of the impact you’ll make on customers and clients.
If you run a small business, you already know why you started your company. However, taking some time to write out how your vision, your goals, and your strategy will be reflected in your business’s brand is still invaluable. Carefully thinking through your branding will help ensure that your brand comes across clearly to others, giving you more control of the impression you make on customers and clients. Writing down all these elements of your brand in one place will also create a master reference document for your brand, which you can refer to every time you plan a launch or execute a project. Ultimately, this will ensure that your branding is strong, recognizable, and-- most importantly-- always consistent.
To help you solidify your business’s brand and create your master branding reference document, below, we’re going over the six things you need to define in order to brand your business. Consider each item on this checklist, write your answers down, and reference your master brand document as you run and grow your brand.
1. Define Your Beliefs and Values
Beliefs and values are a defining feature of your brand identity. They’ll seep into every aspect of how you run your business and will attract consumers who recognize that your values align with their own. The most successful businesses carefully select their values, then allow them to influence their decisions, their partnerships, and the overall direction of their business. So, consider: what do you want your business to stand for? What values will you make a core part of your business model and mission statement?
2. Identify Your Strengths
If you can easily identify your strengths, people will be much more willing to invest their time and money into your products or services. Think about what makes you the best at what you do, why that’s valuable to customers and clients, and how you can easily describe your strengths to make sure they’re clear to others.
3. Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is essential for both branding and marketing. If you know your target market, you can get a better understanding of the wants and needs of your target customers, as well as how you can reach them. Think carefully about who your product or service is for, then also consider how and where you can reach this target audience.
4. Create a Strong Brand Story
A brand story used to be more of an added bonus, but today it’s a must-have if you want to have a strong brand identity. In our increasingly digital society, having a real human story connected to your small business is one of the best ways to stand out from the sea of automated marketing materials people are constantly bombarded with.
When creating your brand story, remember to keep your story focused on what’s real, thoughtful, and memorable, rather than on facts and figures. Authentic humanity is what people connect with. Then, also think about how your story connects with why you do what you do and how your story ties into your beliefs and values. After you come up with a strong brand story you’re happy with, also consider how you're going to effectively communicate your story on your website, on social media, in one-on-one conversations, in advertising taglines, etc.
5. Find Your Brand Voice
Having a cohesive brand voice is a more subtle element of brand strategy, but it’s a very important one. Using a distinct, consistent brand voice makes it much easier for your audience to understand, relate to, and connect with your business.
To find your own brand voice, think about what tone you want to use to connect with your audience on your website, in your email marketing efforts, on social media, and so on. If coming up with the right tone for your brand personality doesn’t come easily, here’s a tip: imagine that you can have anyone be a brand ambassador for your business, money is no object. Who would you choose? Try using their voice as inspiration for your brand voice.
6. Design Your Look
Your look is a crucial element of your brand identity, as it affects how consumers feel about your business and whether or not people remember you. Consider what look will best represent your brand and connect with consumers. Then, nail down the exact design elements you’ll use to create your look, such as your color palette, logo, fonts, etc.
As you decide on your brand’s design elements, consider how your choices will look in action across all your touchpoints, like your logo design, your website, your instore elements, and so on. For example, will you like the font you choose on both your website and your business cards? Does your color palette create the mood you want no matter the medium?
Creating mood boards can be a huge help as you brainstorm and then create your final look, so consider making digital mood boards on Pinterest to help with your curation process. Once you’re more in the final decision stages, another helpful way to test out your look is by creating some mock assets using templates. Using your brand’s potential new look, make one digital asset (like a social media profile) and one physical asset (like a business card). Then, see if you like your results or if you still need to make some tweaks.
Closing Thoughts: Consistency is Key for Brand Awareness
Defining your business branding is important if you want your business to be successful. But always remember that being consistent with your branding as you grow your small business into a bigger one is even more important than the initial brand ideation process. Consistent messaging is powerful. It helps your brand become memorable and it creates trust with customers and clients. To keep your brand consistent, regularly check in with the master brand reference document that you create using your responses to the above checklist items. Consistently referencing your brand style guide will help you stay on track with your branding and messaging, which will ultimately help you connect with customers and clients.