How to build your brand
So, what’s in a brand?
Your brand includes things like your company name, logo, mission statement, color scheme, products or services, and storefront. A valuable brand likely evokes memories and emotions from customers.
Think of your favorite business (aside from your own). List five things you associate with the business. Why are those five things important? Use that information to help you define what a business brand means to you.
Now, how do you build your unique brand to become a powerhouse and be at the forefront of consumers’ minds?
Conduct a market analysis
Conducting a market analysis helps you learn about popular products or services, prospective customers, competitors, and industries.
When conducting your market analysis, check out your competitors and other small businesses. Pay attention to what customers like most about these businesses by reading through reviews. Avoid creating a similar brand by honing in on the unique aspects of your new business.
Your market analysis should also show you what is trending. Although you want a brand that will be relevant for the long haul, looking at sales trends can help you build a brand that will flourish in the current market and beyond.
Create your business plan
Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Now, apply this quote to your small business. Can you build a brand if you don’t know your business? No way! You can only create a business brand consumers can connect with if you truly know your business.
Before you can try to build a brand from the ground up, you need to plan. Mull over the ins and outs of your startup by drafting a small business plan.
Your business plan gives you the opportunity to lay out all the details about your business, including your company description, products or services, what sets your business apart, and how your offerings benefit your intended customer base. Business plans are also important when pursuing investments, which a process that can now be done from home.
Craft a mission statement
Is writing a mission statement a priority to you? If it isn’t, it should be.
The shorter and more concise your mission statement, the better. A long phrase riddled with fancy words can be forgotten.
Here are some examples of company mission statements getting right to the point:
- Google’s mission statement: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Patriot Software’s mission statement: “To make accounting and payroll fast, simple, and affordable for American small businesses.”
- LearnWorld’s Mission Statement: "To become the best “teaching amplifier”, empowering professional trainers and companies to create unique, enjoyable and memorable learning experiences."
Notice both of these mission statements start with the word “To?” They all describe where the companies are headed. Keep your mission statement real to your business.
Put your startup story into words
If you want to build an authentic brand, write a nonfiction book … OK, that might be a bit much when you’re a busy small business owner. But, putting your startup’s story into words can be an essential building block of brand development.
Brand storytelling is useful for relaying information about your startup’s origins with your customers.
For example, Patriot Software began in the basement of a factory with no heat or air conditioning. The company ran out of money and maxed out credit cards. Patriot’s rough startup helps the company connect to its small business owner customers.
See? Patriot’s startup story is honest. It’s real. It’s authentic.
When creating your business story, be honest. Keep your storytelling consistent with your brand and stay focused. If you can create a compelling and true story, consumers will associate it with your business, thus improving brand awareness.
Design a logo
A logo is a symbol that helps identify your small business.
Some businesses create a logo using only their name (e.g., Google), some use a graphic (e.g., Apple), and others use a mixture of the two (e.g., Amazon).
Whatever strategy you use when creating your logo, be sure it is memorable and unique.
Your logo and brand go hand in hand. Many consumers will picture your logo when thinking of your small business.
When designing your logo, consider five things:
- Target audience
- Whether you are business-to-business or business-to-consumer
- Unique aspects of your company
Another essential part of building your brand is coming up with a color scheme. Color scheme is important to your brand, and your logo should incorporate your business’s color(s).
Business logos are generally used for all things marketing. Incorporating your logo in your marketing materials will increase brand awareness.
Once you create a logo and begin branding your business with it, try not to change it. Frequently creating a “new and improved” logo will confuse consumers and lead to a disconnect with your brand.
Create a logo that is evergreen, not trendy and fleeting.
Whether you’re building or maintaining your brand, you need to market consistently. You might feel like you’re spitting out the same materials like a broken record, but consistent marketing is essential for building a cohesive brand.
Brand your business everywhere you can, such as on your small business website, social media pages, email marketing materials, storefront, and newspaper advertisements. Include the same logo, color scheme, business name, mission statement, and so forth on your marketing materials.
Pro Tip: Adding a watermark is a good way of creating consistent branding materials and it also protects your images from getting ripped off. Visual Watermark is an offline tool that you can install in your computer to help you add your watermark to hundreds of photos at a time.
Your brand is essentially your business’s personality. Shouldn’t you strive to keep your personality consistent, regardless of where you’re marketing it?
Involve brand ambassadors
When you build a house, you can’t do it on your own. You need help. Building your brand shouldn’t be a solo activity, either.
You’re constructing the non-physical structure of your business, after all—if you want it to stand strong for a long time, recruit aid.
You can’t build, believe in, and market your brand by yourself. You need brand ambassadors (e.g., employees and customers) to engage with and spread the word about your brand.
Here are a few things you can do to inspire your employees and current customers to be brand ambassadors:
- Give to charity (67% of millennials want to work for a company that does)
- Build a relatable brand
- Ask customers to leave reviews
- Establish a refer-a-friend program
Have you ever been so excited about a business’s product that you just had to tell everyone about it? That’s the type of brand ambassador you want promoting your business, too.
For so many businesses, building a brand is overwhelming and untouched territory.
Nobody can tell someone the exact formula for building their brand—every business must experiment and tweak to find what works. But, you can use the above tips as a sort of checklist to help you begin or improve your brand-building journey.
If you want to gain even more confidence in building your brand, you can also seek the guidance of professional coaches to help your business take off. Improve your strategy, know the best practices, and have someone walk you through so you don’t miss a step.
Need some advice on how to start your e-commerce business? Read Ecommerce Guide – Introduction & How to Start an Ecommerce Business?
Bio: Rachel Blakely-Gray is a content writer at Patriot Software, LLC. Patriot Software offers online accounting and payroll software for small business owners. At Patriot, Rachel enjoys providing actionable, growth-oriented content.