When you’ve just had a great idea to start a business, it can be tempting to run full steam ahead!
The excitement of a new venture can be a great motivator for getting things done, but we always advocate for taking a breather, stepping back for a second, and taking the time to make informed decisions. Sure, it’s not as exciting as trucking forward with nothing holding you back, but it can help prevent you from making costly decisions that don’t pan out down the line. There are so many decisions that go into branding, that it’s confusing to even get started! We have three big steps for branding: where to start.
What Isn’t a Brand?
Let’s start off first by dispelling a big branding inaccuracy you may have seen online. A logo alone is not a brand. Although the logo has a lot to do with the eventual brand image, it’s not the only piece of the puzzle! A brand isn’t defined by one piece of that puzzle (like the logo or the brand name). A brand is created by a mixture of several different pieces.
What is a Brand?
There is no perfect answer or definition for a brand. Take a quick scroll through Google and you’ll see many different answers from different publications and institutions about what “brand” means. Defining the exact characteristics of a brand can be hard to pin down because quite a lot of it is wrapped up in how we feel about the brand. But, for the purpose of this blog post we’re going to boil a brand down into the following puzzle pieces:
- Business Name – What your customers call you. For example, Nike.
- Logo and Visual Elements/Marks – Your logo or recognizable symbol, like the Nike swoosh.
- Colors – Through social media and advertisements you may have a whole host of colors that are connected to your brand, but what are the major colors that will come back again and again? For Whole Foods, it’s green. For Walmart, it’s blue.
- Packaging – This includes everything from the box an item is shipped in to the physical packaging that houses a product.
- Promotions – Any and all paid advertisements for your business.
- Copywriting – All of the text used for your business, including social media, your website, and text on the packaging.
When carefully chosen each of these aspects works together to create your brand image in the mind of your customers!
Branding Where to Start : Research!
Where do you start with branding? We suggest starting with research! As much fun as it can be to put together a collage of the colors, fonts, logos that inspire you (a mood board, if you will), you’ll get your best foot forward if you start with research. This gives you the information you need to make purposeful and informed decisions!
Target Audience Research
Before you start making decisions about colors and marks, you should have a good idea if your clientele will like them! Starting first with a really clear picture of what your customers look like helps to inform all of your branding decision makings.
When you’re first starting out, defining your target audience may seem overly ambitious. How are you supposed to know your customer before you’ve even sold anything? But, so long as you have a clear idea of your product or service, you should have a general idea of who would be interested in your business!
We suggest making a couple of customer personas that reflect audience options for your brand. Follow our in-depth tutorial and you’ll have your first step to branding complete!
Before making big decisions about how you’re going to style your brand, it’s a good idea to make sure you have an audience that is looking for your product or service. Market research helps you figure out exactly what your potential customers are looking for, or if you need to tweak your business idea to make sure it’s profitable.
Market research should help to back up the decisions you’re making with your business. Things like changing from a physical book to an e-book can make a big difference with your branding! Doing market research can be a bit time consuming but is absolutely worth it for having data to confirm your decisions.
Research Similar Brands
After you’ve figured out who your customers are, and after you’ve done your market research, you’re well on your way! While you conducted your market research you likely found brands similar to your idea, or at least brands in the same niche.
Before you really dig into your branding decisions, you need to figure out how to differentiate yourself from these similar brands. You don’t want to look or sound the same as an existing brand, but you also don’t want to be so far out of the realm or your clients won’t like it.
Take time to come up with your list of “no-nos” based on your competition. For instance, if one competitor uses the same light pink on every single social post, ad, and their website, don’t utilize a similar pink as your color!
Next, you put it into action! Creating your branding items is so much fun and is one of the most significant things you can do for your business! You can start by utilizing current graphic design trends to help design a successful brand identity for your business. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t have the resources to tackle branding your business yourself, we’d love to chat about how to help you through the struggle.
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