Start with a plan.
Building a better brand doesn't happen by accident. A killer brand starts with a detailed plan. Now, I'm not saying that it has to be complicated, but it needs to be intentional. Start with the end goal in mind, and craft a road-map to get you there. Here is my easy system to build a better brand now.
A brand is more than...
I want to take a quick second (or two) and clarify that a brand is more than a logo. You can head over to certain not-to-be-named marketplaces and get a logo for $5.00. You can buy a kit, and make something yourself. It might even look really awesome. But a logo ≠ a brand. A brand identity is the sum of all the things that make your business unique and memorable.
A brand is...
So, if a brand is a lot of things, what exactly are those things? A fully developed brand can include things like:
- a logo
- a specific tone of voice
- a color scheme(s)
- a personality/culture
- supporting graphic elements
- a carefully curated experience
- a specific style of images
- a certain vernacular or copywriting style
- price points & quality of goods
This list isn't exhaustive, but you get the idea.
Think about your favorite place to shop. What makes that experience fun for you? Or, consider the differences between Walmart and Nordstrom. You can buy a shirt from both stores, but they are wildly different experiences. Shopping politics and pricing aside, both retailers have intentionally created an experience tailored for a specific audience. Guess what? Creating a brand experience isn't just for big corporate entities. It has merit and value for the one-woman-show or the small team as well. With me so far? Ok, great; let's get actionable!
Your first steps:
1. Figure out where you are & what you have to offer. Are you just starting out? Have you been in business for a while? What are your skills? What kind of limitations do you have on your time? Why do you want to build a business in the first place? Take some time to figure out what is really, truly important to you. The why behind your brand matters! Your personal and professional values matter. How would you describe the heart and drive of your dream business? If your deepest goal is to break into the six figure launch club and rake in those dolla bills, then you can quit reading. I'm all about helping creatives and service providers with heart create businesses with purpose. Take some time to determine your why before you move on to the how.
Also, be sure to put thought into how your offering is different from what's already out there. What is unique about the way you do your thing? Figure out a way to bring your own personality into your venture.
2. Figure out your audience. This involves two parts: find your best audience and figure out what they need/want. Many new entrepreneurs start by thinking that their audience is just like them.
Except, you are not your target audience. If your audience had the skill set that you have, they would most likely do that thing you do for themselves.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on. Here is the figure-out-your audience exercise that I prefer. (Basically, I'm a bit of rebel, and I dislike rigid how-to-do-the-thing templates.) Sit down and start writing down words on a page about your ideal client or customer. No pressure here, it doesn't have to fit a specific formula.
Then walk away.
Come back later after your subconscious has had some time to work. What stands out? Start circling the words that are most important. Then ask yourself this question:
Does this person need what I offer, and can they afford to pay for it? If yes, and yes then break into your happy dance! What if you aren’t sure? See, often we skip this step, and it leads to pricing woes later down the road.
Your best audience is one that you love to serve, has a need for what you sell, and can afford to buy it.
They are also an audience that you connect with because of your why from the previous step. If there is a disconnect here then you need to do some thinking. Can you tweak your offering so it is in your audience’s budget and still profitable and sustainable for you? You might need to shift your audience. There isn’t a one size fits all answer here, but clarity is vital. Don't skip this part. Your price point affects your brand experience and marketing efforts.
Take it to the next level:
Now that you know what you bring to the table and have narrowed down your audience, you have a foundation for your brand. But first, you need to validate it. Spend some time talking to people, and more importantly, listening. Not just any people, but the people in your best audience.
What are their frustrations, and pain points? What kind of experience do they crave when shopping around for your product or service? Do they want to feel like a VIP at the spa? Do they want a kick-butt partner who is going to get them fired up? Do they need someone who is going to make things simple and easy for them? Are they a bargain-shopper, or are they looking for value beyond the $$$?
Got it? Now we are getting somewhere. Find a planning style that feels comfortable for you and writes down this information. Paper planner, journal, Asana, Keep, a spreadsheet, wherever; but write it down! You want to refer back to this plan often.
Start making the visuals & writing the words.
Here's the part where things start to get pretty. Except you aren't choosing colors and creating visuals because they are pretty. You select colors, words, patterns, typography, etc. that build on that brand foundation and support your goals. It's easy to end up with a pretty logo that totally misses the mark with your audience if you skip all the foundation work.
Next step is to build a moodboard, but that is a whole other post.
Ready to get started?
Need a little guidance? Grab your free workbook here to get started building your brand foundation.
Or, maybe you are ready to end the DIY overwhelm and hire a branding bestie to help you nail down your own brand experience. Schedule a coffee chat and we'll see how I can help you build a better brand.