Starting a business is one of the most effective ways to achieve financial independence. It’s how I did it and though not easy, there are manageable steps to follow in doing so. We’ll address many of these topics over the life of the site, but today the focus is on how to build a brand and why this is an important step to consider at any stage of your business journey.
The most successful businesses in the world are built around the brands they have created. If I was to use the phrase “I’m lovin it”, you might conjure up thoughts of the gold and red colours of their packaging and the memories of a terrific burger you once devoured. You may think about the experience you had last time you visited their restaurant. Notice how I’ve not mentioned the business, but you know who it is?
You can build a business, blog, product or service without a brand. But if you want your business to work as hard as you do, branding is key. It will sell when you’re not in the room, overcome objections and look for opportunities.
What is a brand?
Your logo is not your brand, but it is part of it.
When we consider branding as a whole, just like in the McDonald’s example above, your brand is all encompassing. Yes it will include your name and logo (identity), but it will also give careful consideration to the use of language. The narrative and tone of voice (what we say and how we say it).
It will address photography or iconography direction, the use of fonts (typography) that will appeal to your audience. The psychology of colour and how use can change perceptions of a brand should also be considered.
A lot of the phrases above may be new to you, but consider this. Your brand is everything a customer sees, feels, touches and thinks about your business. We’ll break this down further.
Naming your business
Will millions of businesses worldwide, it can seem like a challenge to come up with a unique business name. We can build a brand with any name, but it’s easier with a name that has meaning or significance to the business.
Foundered for example in relation to our brand is a nod to the colloquialism and use of the phrase here in Northern Ireland, but also a play on the word founder, which has direct meaning to the blog and my own journey.
In my experience when a business owner has an idea for a name, they have likely given it major consideration before engaging a branding agency and unless there are copyright or potential issues, it’s likely the best opportunity for the brand. Remember you as the owner must live with the name, so you must love it!
Your logo - Identity
Your logo is the face of the brand. Consider any of your favourite or most recognisable brands. Already you’re picturing their logo. The Golden arches in the McDonalds logo, the distinctive red and white Coca-Cola script font, or the Apple icon that is recognisable world-wide.
Logo form follows function – It may comprise solely a font, or a mixture of fonts and icons.
Language - Tone of voice and narrative
The personality of your business should shine through your use of language in all your communications. Is your business serious or fun? Do you communicate in a formal manner or informally? These considerations will shape the language you use.
The language of a solicitors practice may be professional in its tone, whereas a fast-casual burrito bar will more fluid with their choice of language and messaging. Consistency in the use of language regardless of market sector is critical to its success.
Photography and iconography direction
A picture says a thousand words. Choosing the most relevant and supporting images for your brand will help you build the brand story in your customers minds. Selling high end products or services? To target your market your image selection must speak to your customers.
Typography - Use of fonts
A font can tell a story by itself. The choice of font can portray traditional values or contemporary minimal traits. It can add impact to your brand or it can mute the tone of your communications.
Understanding who your customer is and who you want to be as a brand will allow you to choose an appropriate font-family to craft a considered brand.
When I started my first business in 2009 I picked the same colour of orange that Amazon was using. Why? Because Amazon were using it and they were smarter than me. Since then, I’ve worked with some incredibly talented brand designers who have schooled me on the psychology of colour and how this shapes emotions and decision making.
Was I wrong in my colour choice? Actually, going by the emotion guide below, it should have presented the exact emotional response I was hoping for. What colour or colours represent your business direction.
What is your brand?
Now that we understand the components of a successful brand, we need to give consideration to YOUR Brand.
Before you build any business, you should understand where you want the business to go, who you want as customers and who you are competing against in the marketplace. This research is invaluable in creating an effective brand strategy to overcome the challenges your face and grasp the opportunities that are presented as part of your business.
Who are your customers?
If you had to serve one type of customer forever more who would it be? Are they easier to work with? Can you make a bigger impact with a certain demographic or are they more profitable to your business? Understanding who you want to work with and why will help you to create targeted communication materials that directly meet their needs and expectations = better opportunity to sell!
Who are your competition?
It can be easy to always look at your competition for inspiration, but in reality you’re on your own journey and forging ahead. Focusing on your business will present the best results over the long term.
From a branding perspective look far and wide. Look at brands not in your industry and study what they do better than you. Use their experience to your benefit.
With that said, it’s always good to know what your competitors are doing, but never dwell or focus on this. It’s a waste of your resources and time.
Understand who’s in the market, then examine the gaps that no-one else has entered.
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Designing a brilliant brand
Working with professional designers will ensure that their experience in how to build a brand is brought into your project. Can you design a good logo yourself? Maybe! However, working with brand designers who manage many branding projects across multiple sectors daily will ensure you benefit from their collective experience. At the early stage of your business, your energy is best spent bringing the brand to the market, not designing it.
You don't need to be a designer to maintain a great brand
While we highly recommend using a branding agency to create your branding and to manage your graphic design, the maintenance and management of this is something everyone in our respective businesses should be involved in.
Every touch point of your business communications should be considered to support the brand. Social posts, sales documents, email signatures, leaflets or newsletters should all encompass and directly support your overall brand strategy. In doing so you will see incredible value in your brand and it will become a strong asset in your business.
How to build a brand - online and offline
When your brand is remembered for the right reasons, it will ensure this carries over to all functions in the business. Did a client receive great service from a colleague? They may recommend your business to a friend or family member.
Consistent use of branding across your organisation strengthens with every activity. Being top of mind for clients in a favourable and positive manner allows you to not only attract new business, but to create a sense of loyalty and trust, keeping the business you already have.
Done correctly, there’s no downside to being consistent. Just with compound interest, every brand activity supports the past and future efforts of your business and will compound favourably.
Solve your clients problems
Branding is not about tricking customers into buying from you. It is there to effectively communicate the opportunities and solutions you can support customers with. There’s no point having the best product and service if:
- No one knows about it
- You can’t efficiently convey why a prospective customer should purchase it.
Be where your clients are and speak to them in their language
Amazing brands will speak directly to a customer at a time that is convenient to them and in a location that reflects them and their need.
Why does BMW advertise in the Economist? Because thats where a segment their customers are. Does the messaging differ there versus its wider TV campaign? You bet it does.
Always be closing (abc)
Consider every interaction as a potential sale. Some may be at the start of your sales funnel, others may be be close to purchase. Ensure your are always considering the opportunity to sell and that your product or service.
Just like you in your business. Your brand should always be ON.
How to build your brand - Further Reading
If you want to look at other tips and hints to build your brand or to find out more about building a brand, check out the links below:
Make Money – Check out all the posts here on this site