Last Updated on December 12, 2019
Just because you have a business doesn’t mean you already have a brand.
Your business is your company–the organization that produces your products or services–while your brand is that company’s perceived image or identity.
Businesses that lack a defined or coherent brand often have trouble communicating the right message to their audience or spreading recognition of their company.
To turn the heads of your target customers, it’s important that you promote your business with a powerful brand.
Ready to brand your business? Here are five actionable tips:
Research the market
The first step to brand your business is to research your industry and target audience. Think about the types of customers you want to attract. You can build a buyer persona–a fictional representation of your typical target customer–to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
What are your audience’s desires, needs, and values? What are their pain points, and how can your brand help resolve them?
You should also get to know your competitors. Take a look at their websites and blogs to get a better understanding of their brand image and voice. Consider their audience and whether any aspects of their branding could be improved.
Do you like their logo? How about their website’s voice and tone? Use your competitors’ successes and weaknesses to inform your own branding strategy.
Define your brand personality
Based on what you learn about your target audience and competitors, you can develop a personality for your brand that directly ties back to your company’s mission and purpose and that appeals to the values and desires of your target audience.
A brand personality is one of the core components of brand identity. It’s what brings your company to life and humanizes your business to build an emotional connection with your audience.
It’s made up of a combination of traits and behaviors that you consistently apply across all aspects of your brand, from your marketing emails and social media posts to your color palette and typography.
There are generally considered to be five main brand personality types:
- Excited – A brand that evokes excitement might have a carefree, energetic, spirited, youthful, bold, or playful
- Sincere – A brand that evokes sincerity might be thoughtful, warm, approachable, family-oriented, or wholesome.
- Rugged – A rugged brand might have an outdoorsy, rough, tough, athletic, or irreverent
- Competent – A competent brand comes across as successful, accomplished, knowledgeable, intelligent, or reliable.
- Sophisticated – A sophisticated brand might be charming, classy, poised, elegant, or prestigious.
While not all brand personalities fit squarely into just one category, these personality types form a useful framework for building your own distinct brand personality.
Create a powerful logo
Once you research your competitors and build a profile of your target audience, it’s time to create your logo. You can think of a logo as your brand’s ambassador–the representative of your brand and the first thing your audience will encounter when they see your company.
Start by taking a look at your competitors’ logos. Is there a particular look and feel common to your industry? Chances are some looks will suit your brand’s personality more than others. Create an organized file of the designs you like, and jot down some notes about the specific elements that appeal to you.
Once you know your preferred design styles, think about which type of logo works best for your business. There are three main types of logos:
- Image-based logo – This type of logo is an image with no text, such as Apple’s apple, Nike’s swoosh, or McDonald’s golden arches.
- Text-based logo – This type of logo uses solely text without an image, putting the focus on typography and color. This can be your company’s full name or an abbreviation such as an acronym. Think of Coca-Cola’s characteristic red script or Google’s colorful sans serif font.
- Combination mark – A combination mark is a logo that combines both image and text. The benefit of using this kind of logo is that it tells your brand’s story (with an image) without relying on brand recognition. Combination marks are also the most versatile since you can pick and choose between your image and text depending on the appropriate context. Well-known combination marks include the Burger King, Doritos, and Lacoste logos.
The final elements of your logo are colors and typography. Always touch back to your brand’s personality and values when selecting an image, typeface, or color palette. Remember that your choice of colors, fonts, and visuals will form the backbone of your brand image overall.
Tell your story
Give your audience a reason to care about your brand by placing your brand’s image and personality within the context of a larger story.
A brand story is a simple but potent narrative about your brand–one that encompasses your company’s history, reflects your mission, values, and sources of inspiration, and looks toward your vision for the future.
As with other aspects of your branding strategy, your brand story should help your business forge emotional connections with your audience.
Create a compelling brand story by putting your customers at the center: Your customers are the inspiration for your brand’s existence, and they’re the heroes of your story who will continue to carry your brand forward.
Spread your message
At the end of the day, your brand isn’t what you create; it’s how your audience perceives your business. Build an effective strategy to spread your brand’s message so that your audience’s perception of your brand is aligned with your own.
The key to branding is consistency. In every channel you expose your brand or communicate with your customers, you need to reflect a uniform set of values and a consistent brand image and personality.
Start by creating a set of brand guidelines–the set of rules your company will use to represent your brand. Your brand guidelines should include rules about accepted brand imagery (your logo and icon), your brand’s precise font, and your overall company mission.
Keeping those guidelines in mind for consistency, develop a plan to spread your message through social media channels and a robust body of content.
Use consistent brand language across your blog articles, social media posts, emails, and other marketing channels. Think about which channels are best for reaching your particular audience–do they love Instagram posts, or do they flock to Twitter?
Using these channels, solidify your brand’s personality, image, and story within your customers’ minds. Like a favorite song, your brand should get stuck in your audiences’ heads–and keep them coming back for more.