Building a great brand from the ground up is an often overwhelming, confusing task.
“How should it look?”
“How should it feel?”
“Will my clients honestly like it?”
If you’re starting at the very basics of your business idea, or have one that needs to gain more buyers, the process of building a successful brand remains consistent. Let’s start with the basics.
What Is A “Brand” Anyway?
Begin by considering what it isn’t: Brands aren’t simply just a logo and tagline; although that’s an important part of a brand. Brands are much more complex and subtle in their composition, character, and evolutions.
Your brand is how others think about you – whether they interact directly with you, or not. This includes perceptions and impressions you can control, and unfortunately, some you cannot.
Even individuals have brands. Your name, looks, dress and way of speaking communicate differently to different people. This is certainly true about what is said about you when you’re not in the room.
Similarly, businesses have names, packaging, logos, fonts and most importantly, reputations that comprise who they are, and how they’re perceived.
Successful brands can’t thrive without maintaining consistency in all these features as it grows in the marketplace. With the future at stake, taking time to clearly define what that consistency is will help guide the feelings you want to convey.
Seven Stages Of Branding 101
Building your own great brand comes to 7 distinctly important steps:
If you’re changing an existing brand to be more effective, its critical that you consider each of these steps when you shape your identity.
In this first of the seven steps in branding, we’ll focus on each of the phases of development in detail. We’ll explore all of the other six critical steps in following posts. For now, let’s get started with the most important first step – defining your space and place.
1. Define Your Place
Sounds easy enough, yet it’s the first thing most brands simply don’t take the time and make the effort to do. Many assume they know the answer to this important step in the passion and rush of pushing a new service or product to market.
Although it’s tempting to jump ahead to the fun of logo development, you must create a solid, strategic foundation that will guide your brand as it evolves. The first, and most important step in brand building is to impartially determine your place in the current market, who your potential customers are, and who your competition truly is.
There are various tools to help you do this:
- Google your product or service category and compare direct and indirect competitors that result. Take careful note of their ranking and claims.
- Search subreddits that relate to your customers and listen-in to their conversations.
- Talk to people who are part of your target market and ask them what brands they buy from in your space.
- Review relevant social media accounts or pages your target audience follow.
- Shop online and offline to gain an understanding for how your customers would browse and buy your product or service.
Most importantly, I can’t emphasize this enough, write it down. Don’t assume you’ll remember details of your research by creating a document that holds the sources and finding you’ve discovered. All of this good information will help you determine:
- Who your “easy” customers are—the ones you could most easily sell to.
- Who your top of mind competitors are—the brands that are established and known in the market.
- How your customers speak and what they talk about—the interests they have and the language they express them in.
Without this first step taken and documented, your branding efforts will always be stuck in “first gear”. Having a solid understanding of your current place in the market, and understanding why you’re there is the first step to positioning yourself apart from competitors.
In my next post, we’ll dive into your brand’s true focus and personality traits – whether you think you understand them (or not!). Please visit again and we’ll dive deeper into the process of building a brand you’ll be proud to call your own.