Do you have a brand or a brand identity for your business and services?
Many businesses when developing a brand starts with visual pieces like logo, colors, and fonts based on what appeals to them. However, the visual brand is a piece of your brand and not the identity itself.
A brand is made up of three parts: brand, branding and brand identity. Your brand is how people perceive your business. Branding is the action taken to build the image. Brand identity is the culmination of how your brand looks, feels, and speaks to customers.
A brand identity is the hardest part for some businesses to get right because it requires research, deep thinking and knowing potential customer needs on many levels.
So where do you start?
1. Research and Discovery
To create a profitable brand, you need to know your customers, competition and end goals. Some people get stuck because they are new to the business and can't quite figure out where to begin. While others get stuck because they are trying to emulate a successful brand mentor and can't make those details fit into what they are trying to achieve.
Whichever stage you are in this is the most labor-intensive and cumbersome stage. But it's critical to build the foundation on which your brand will stand for years to come. It's a gathering stage because you're trying to understand the customer, know the competition and determine what your brand truly stands for.
Research is the part where you gather details, inspirations and tons of ideas (some perfect for you and some not) to put together a cohesive vibe and feel that helps you attract people to what you have to offer.
There are lots of ways to find the information including watching social media channels, surveying audiences, competitive analysis, assessments and more.
The best place to start is where your potential audience may be. By hanging out with those you are trying to attract you'll find out if they do need your offer, what are some of their biggest problems, who they love (and don't) and what may have worked in the past?
Don't be afraid to float your idea in some social groups or look on sites like Quora or Answer The Public for questions asked of services you love to offer. This will give you a better idea of the use of words to describe problems, frustrations in finding solutions and who is recommended to provide help.
Recon can even be done by attending workshops or participating in challenges so you can get a feel for how people learn and interact with their peers and colleagues.
Social media is always a great place to get organic data and details since people seem to open up in their communities. But don't sit back and be a fly on the wall, participate by giving information and answers and asking for feedback on specific ideas and thoughts.
Some people skip over this step because they don't know where to begin or where to find the other players.
The idea of a competitive analysis is to see how others in your industry are presenting themselves, how they are talking to their audiences, and what are their strengths and weaknesses. The key is to find what differentiates you from others.
You'll want to visit their websites and social accounts, look at places they hang out and events they attend. By acting like their ideal client, you will be able to identify the gaps or missing pieces and how you can fill those.
The key is to not look at them to steal their brand or business but gather inspiration on how you can use your uniqueness to be different yet still fill a need or problem.
Persona and Target Market
Your persona is the finer details of a target market or customers. You need to know who you are talking to attract and keep their attention. Many times we focus on collecting demographic data instead of their problems and how they get their information.
It's about perception so you need to focus on what's important including words used, where they get their information, how they consume that information and what type of customer they really can be.
The idea of research and data gathering is to listen to the needs of potential clients so you can focus on how to address what your brand wants to say.
2. Define Your Brand Strategy
Your brand strategy is a detailed plan that outlines what you are trying to accomplish and how you will get there. Your brand identity is a tool to help keep your brand consistent and execute your brand strategy.
Before you design your website, create your content or create the assets you need to get crystal clear on your strategy.
To set yourself up for success you need to define the essential parts of your brand including core values, brand stories, value proposition, positioning, and message so that your visual design can reflect who you are and what you stand for.
You should now have an idea of who you are talking to, what is important to them and how everything will fit into your offers and goals.
Brand Objectives and Goals
Brand goals are more than revenue-based objectives because you also need to have an idea of the image you want your brand to portray.
If you can't commit to what you want out of your business and brand how will your customers and clients be able to get behind it too? You want your brand to be authentic and have a perceived quality that feels right to you, so you are relatable and reliable.
Keep in mind that goals are targets for your business while objectives are what brings you closer to the goals and not the actual value of the goal.
Your goal may be to create $250K of income with a 60% profit margin so that you can easily pay your monthly bills and do a little traveling or pay down some debt. The objectives to support that could be creating a new product or working with brand ambassadors.
Brand Values and Benefits
Your brand values encompass both what is important to you as a business owner and the emotional benefits people will get from working with you. Mostly these are the impressions you want to make with your words, vibe, and purpose.
If you're truly stuck here or having a hard time nailing down the details, start with a brand assessment or archetype. My favorite tool is 16 Personalities Types which is based on Briggs Myers and Carl Jung. These tests help you discover your natural talents and core values.
The assessments and tests also give you a framework for traits you may possess that will relate well to others. They also provide a good starting point for outlining benefits that will help you engage well with others.
My clients start by picking five words that reflect their brand and work from there. You can determine if your brand will the practical or stylish, energetic or laid back, casual or corporate.
Brand benefits are key pieces that will keep your customer or clients coming back for more. It's critical that you deliver what you promise and stand behind your brand without sending mixed messages or changing your brand with every new trend.
3. Execute The Details
The devil's in the details, and the same goes with your brand. To be consistent, you need to pull your plan together.
Your core message should remain the same, but how you deliver, it will vary for each audience.
Now that you have who you're trying to attract, goals for your business and a brand position, it's time to translate that into your message because your audience will have different needs.
The easiest way is to start with your positioning statement or the central theme of your brand and marketing. Your positioning statement is a short sentence that states a benefit, addresses the problem and be believable.
Here's an easy template:
[Your Brand] provides [your target] with [benefits] by [solutions].
The visible part of your brand is a part of your brand, but not your total brand. Meaning that they are ways for someone to remember and recognize your business visually.
Your visual brand needs to be cohesive and memorable so that on glance whether someone is on your website, social channels or watching a presentation, will know precisely what they are looking at.
Some of the things to consider when creating your visual brand:
- Getting the logo right, find a designer who is more about the end product than the number of revisions and iterations.
- Create a consistent color palette by choosing a few colors that reflect the vibe of your brand.
- Choose fonts that match the personality and be sure they have web-ready versions.
- Select your images to reflect your message and audience.
- Plan a photo shoot with a photographer who gets your brand and can help bring it to life.
Your visual brand needs to reflect the audience as much as yourself, so keep that in mind when creating and choosing the visual pieces.
The content strategy of your brand is an essential element that many people forget to plan or make part of their overall identity.
Your content strategy is not an option for you to remain competitive. Your visitors and potential customers need to know you are authentic, relatable and engaging. Your content (written, video, images, and audio) are what can make or break the sale for you.
Start with your story. Everyone has a story, and people love a great story because it allows us to connect with you emotionally and we remember details and concepts more through stories.
Think about the details of your business – how did you get started, why are you in business, what was the turning point that got you here.
According to Neil Patel, “Simple stories are better. Science says so, and experience affirms it. While we may love the complexity of a Harry Potter plot, we can’t import that same complex model into the brand story. We need simplicity. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.”
Content not only helps the audience know like and trust you, but it helps with your SEO efforts so that the search engines return the content you have to offer in their results.
Varying your content to the needs of the audience will help you to connect with different types of people so be sure to add your content personalities to your identity. Some of us are great with video while others have the gift for gab by way of a podcast and we are all capable of written content.
By defining which content you create with ease and working that into your overall plan, you will find it easier to create for the needs of your visitors and audience.
Download the free resources guide of handpicked tools that will help you put together your brand identity.