Figuring out your brand identity is a necessity for any business that hopes to leave its mark on the world.
It’s the foundation on which you build a relationship with your customers and encourage them to pay for your goods or services.
For startups and entrepreneurs, it can be difficult to figure out where to start when crafting your brand identity.
Here are five basic steps that can make this process easier.
What is your brand identity?
Business isn’t just about selling products and finding the best invoicing financing rates. It’s about building recognition with your potential customers.
Your brand identity is how you present your business to the world. It’s the way you convey your business and, in turn, how your business is perceived by your potential customers.
Many different aspects make up your brand identity, including visual cues (the font and typeface you use, your signature colors, logo, etc.), as well as linguistic and strategic elements (your tone, who you speak to, etc.). All of these different elements come together to create your brand identity.
1. Define target market and assess competition
Before you create a lasting brand identity, you need to get back to your overall marketing strategy and business plan. You can’t decide how you’re going to present yourself without first defining who you’re going to talk to and taking a good, hard look at the playing field.
Take an in-depth look at the customers that would be interested in your product. How would they want to be spoken to? What’s going to appeal to them beyond the product or service you’re offering. After all, there are likely a few businesses offering the same things as you. How will you set yourself apart from the competition?
Step one is a labor-intensive process that will require a lot of research and discussion. The more work you do during this step, the more effective your brand will be when you launch.
2. Create mission statement and outline your values
Once you’ve determined who you’re talking to, you need to figure out what you’re going to say. To do this, you have to know what value you’re bringing your customers, and what your business strives to do beyond making money.
Do you want to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop brand identities to help the small business economy grow and flourish? Do you want to help women help themselves through whole person development coaching?
The visual components of your brand often act as the face of the business, used to subtly communicate the ideation outlined in steps one and two.
During this stage, you’ll need to determine what colors, fonts, typefaces, logo design you will use, etc. For this stage, it’s best to outsource and work with a designer.
When you work with a brand designer, they may ask you to conduct a brand audit on your current offering, if applicable. This will highlight any weaknesses with your current visual branding and allow you to work to correct them while maintaining some consistent elements.
If you’re starting from scratch, your designer may ask you to go through some paperwork to outline your target market and mission statement while discussing what your business does and who your customers are.
If you’re building your personal brand identity, you may even go through a quiz to determine how you should convey yourself to bring your personality into your brand.
Once you have all the visual elements brought together to create a cohesive brand, you can move on to step four.
4. Create an implementation strategy
Once you have a brand, you need to figure out how you’re going to communicate it with the people who matter.
Building a brand identity, like building Rome, takes more than a day.
Your brand implementation strategy can consist of a re-launch, with weeks of hype and mystery leading up to it, building a social media strategy, creating a content strategy that will add weight to your brand, networking events, and more. Basically, whatever you think is appropriate for communicating your brand.
All of the moves taken in step four should directly correlate with your overall marketing strategy. If you’re rebranding, you’ll need to change your marketing plan to reflect that. If you’re starting from scratch, you can build both as you go along.
5. Conduct regular brand audits and evaluate effectiveness
When your new brand identity has been implemented, your work isn’t done. You need to constantly be evaluating how the brand identity is resonating with your customer base.
What’s working? What isn’t working? What launch protocol was effective, and what wasn’t? Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn what your customers want and refine your identity to make it so.
By following the five steps listed above and revisiting them as needed, you’ll be able to build a strong company or personal brand identity that will bolster your success and growth for years to come.
Ashley is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audiences, partnerships, and helps small businesses with their networking efforts online. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in e-commerce and small business marketing.