Building a brand is vital to the real success of a business.
A brand is all about perception – how to influence what others think and feel about you.
How to make them behave in a certain way towards your business – buy more things, provide more information, be more charitable etc.
There’s a lot that goes into making a great brand.
It’s not just logos and colours. No matter how much others may tell you it is!
So I wanna take you through everything that goes into creating an epic brand.
These 8 steps cover everything you need to do to build a brand that’s unique, engaging and powerful.
How can you expect people to love what you can’t even explain yourself?
This is the most important step in branding. Get this part wrong (or don’t bother with it at all) and the entirety of your brand will suffer.
Every part of your brand will have its foundations here. Your brand is the representation of the essence of your business. Your colours, fonts, logos, imagery, website design, tone of voice are all methods of getting your business’s existence across to your audience.
It starts with your story. Something completely unique to you and your business. Your experience, your inspiration, why you want to help people, your vision for the future etc.
Next up is your personality – the blueprint of how you present yourself to your audience. Are you all about simplicity? Support? Power? Passion? Do you come across as informal, humorous, spontaneous? Or serious, structured and traditional?
Following that are your values. People connect with others that share similar values to their own. Use them to build understanding, trust and loyalty. Are you all about teamwork? Creativity? Learning, Results? Etc.
Then to your promises. These are they way your audience experience your values every time they interact with your brand. They are vital in building trust. Don’t be afraid to promise your audience (i know a lot of people are!). Be afraid of not keeping them however.
Your reputation comes next – making people think and feel a certain way by associating positive emotions with your brand. How do you want people to react when they think about your business? What do you want them to say to others?
Finally, your solution. What can you offer to satisfy your audience’s wants, problems and needs? They WANT a better life in some way. Their PROBLEM is stopping them from getting it. Their NEED is your product/service. People don’t always want what they need however. It’s your job to take them on the journey from want to need.
Once you’re comfortable that you know everything about yourself, you need to look at the next most important part of your brand – your audience!
You need to be as specific as possible when choosing your target/ideal audience.
If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one.
However, I get a lot of people say to me:
“James, I can’t go too narrow, there won’t be enough people out there that will want what I’ve got!”
You need to build this into your selection. Can that audience help you meet your goals? It doesn’t matter on the number of them. There could literally be only one, but if they paid you a few million dollars every year, then all good!
Your brand and messaging needs to be focused to an individual group. You need to know that group inside out – their likes, dislikes, wants, fears, problems, frustrations etc. Everything you do needs to be tailored to them.
The wider your audience, the less possible it is to get down to that level of detail and act upon it.
Also, only choose one. Don’t move on to another until you’ve fully exhausted the first.
Trust me. One is plenty to focus on!
The last part of the ‘brand foundation triangle’ is the industry that you operate in. You need to know everything about current trends, hot topics and your main competitors!
You need to stay current, relevant and different.
No business is in a bubble, so don’t ignore what’s going on around you. It will influence your brand as much as knowing yourself and your ideal audience.
Now you can start to move on to the more well-known branding activities.
You now know everything about you. You know your audience inside out. And you know the environment that you operate in and the businesses that you’re up against.
Your difference comes first – how can you separate yourself from your competition? What do your audience really value that you can give them and no-one else can?
What’s your mission? What change are you striving to make?
What are your brand keywords? Adjectives that sum up your business essence. These will be used further in the next step – brand design.
Time to look at your business name and tagline – what best describes what you do and resonates most with your audience?
Lastly, your pricing – a huge instrument in perception and a key part of your brand. High-quality product, not so premium pricing? That will cause a disconnect in people’s minds and develop mistrust. Make sure you get it right!
Here’s the bit that everyone knows and thinks of when they hear the word ‘brand’.
See how far down the list it is and how much is needed before you even get to this point?
These are the external representations of you, your audience and your industry.
They use design principles and psychology to appeal, entice and influence.
Your brand design includes your colour scheme, your fonts, your shapes, patterns, icons, photography, logo and music.
All of these elements will have specific ways of using them, summed up nicely in your Brand Book – guidelines for your brand foundations and design.
Once you know what design elements you’ll be using, you’ll need to know how to work with them creatively.
That’s where Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator and Acrobat come in. Also tools such as Camtasia or Screen Flow for video editing.
“Hold up! I’m not a designer!” I hear you shout.
Don’t worry – neither am I.
And you don’t need to be.
A lot of those programs have bad stigmas attached to them – they’re too complex, too difficult to use, too overkill.
In their entirety, yes. Yes they are.
But you don’t need to become an Adobe Suite expert, you just need to know a small percentage of them to help you brand! Forget about the rest – you don’t need it.
Now there are free alternatives out there – Canva, PicMonkey etc. And you can use these. But to create a visually unique brand that actually has some semblance of design inspiration, you’ll need the power of the Adobe products.
Tools like Canva were built for the masses and your designs will look like the masses’.
So where and how will your brand be used? Website, social platforms, video, email, e-guides, brochures, business cards etc.
You will need to know how to translate your brand to each of these to maintain consistency.
Consistency is what will take your brand from good to great!
How should you colours be used across these? How about your fonts? Are your adverts keeping the same look and feel across each social channel?
How do you implement for each specific platform and content type?
A lot of brand experts cover off tone of voice quite early on into the process.
I don’t think it gets the focus it deserves that way.
And it’s not just tone of voice – it’s an entire communication style.
And it’s on-going. Always developing, always evolving.
It’s the only part of your brand that you will actively be using creatively EVERY day.
The external-facing part of a brand is made up of two things. How it looks and how it sounds. The two methods of communication.
Copywriting or brandwriting is a hugely important skill to learn.
No-one’s born with the ability to write amazing, engaging copy. It comes with practice. It comes with understanding the principles.
We communicate with words. Words are powerful in describing, explaining, influencing, enticing, transporting and building trust.
You will need to know how to use them if you want to create a truly epic brand.
As business owners, we all have an idea around some of these steps.
What step do you know you’ve got covered?
What step weren’t you aware of until now?
What step excites you the most?