You’ve got a business idea. It’s been rattling around in your brain for a while, and you’re ready to take the next step and make it a reality. There are so many things to tackle! Finding the right location, hiring the right people, supply chains, product packaging, and on and on. Then there’s the issue of finding just the right logo, getting business cards, stationery, signage, marketing materials, and this list just keeps going.
When there are so many things to tackle, one of the most critical first steps is often overlooked: establishing your brand. Your brand is not your logo. It’s not the colours or the fonts you pick for your business card. It’s not the great location you’ve landed that has fantastic parking. Your brand is the image your customers have of your business. If you don’t spend the time and establish what that image is, they will create it themselves, and most likely in ways you’d wish they hadn’t.
When you put in the time and develop your brand, it leads to finding the answers to the other questions that you encounter along the way. If you know your brand, you know what logo works best, what fonts and colours fit the message, what location you need to be in, and what kind of signage works best to attract your target audience.
We always tell our clients that there are five simple steps to establishing your brand. Well, five simple questions, really.
1. What do you believe?
The first step can often be the hardest, but it’s the most important. In order to establish your brand, you need to stand out from the competition, and find something that sets you apart, defines your belief as a company, and clearly states what your mission is. For example, Dove, the personal care company, believes that beauty should be for everyone.
2. What is your culture?
Now that you’ve established your mission, you need to define your company culture, the mindset that you and your staff will work toward. Your culture should impact all the processes in your business and how you interact with everyone internally and externally. Google has created a culture of placing high value on innovation and experimentation and allows their people to be themselves in a creative environment.
3. Who is your audience?
You cannot, and should not, try to be everything to everyone. That’s not a recipe for success. Instead, find the core audience for your product or service, and target your branding message for them. Nike does this very effectively, with their marketing clearly addressed to their athlete audience.
4. What is your feeling?
You can’t create loyal brand advocates without creating a fulfilling emotion for your customers. How do you make them feel when they interact with your business, your products, or your services. That feeling needs to be reinforced in all your brand messaging. Apple uses the feeling of anticipation in their branding, as they bring newer and more exciting technological products to their audience every year.
5. What is your voice?
How you say your message is just as important as what you’re saying. Establish the voice and tone you want your branding to express, and all your marketing will support that voice. This helps create consistency and set an expectation in your audience of what they can expect from you. Harley Davidson uses an aggressive and strong tone in their messaging, and that matches with their branding.
Once you’ve taken the time and answered all these questions, you’ll have a framework for your brand, and from that, you can define the other key areas of your business around that identity. Navigating the transition between concept and execution can seem daunting, but it’s an extremely valuable exercise.
Our team has helped many businesses find their identity, so we’ll be happy to help you find and develop your brand. Let us know if you have any questions!