Every day we work with small, medium, and large businesses on building a brand. Sometimes they are startups that require a complete brand built from the ground up; sometimes it is with bigger companies that previously had a solid brand but didn’t have the guidelines in place to keep it from getting diluted.
Branding is as important for smaller businesses as it is for the behemoths. It is the way that a business differentiates itself from the competition. Brand gives your audience an immediate idea of what they can expect from your company.
People hear brand and think that it’s this huge time-consuming monster that is going to eat up all their time that could be better spent on balancing the books or finding new products. Not true. Building a solid presence does require a little bit of investment of time and capital at the beginning, but it should not leave you emotionally or financially bankrupt. To ensure that your efforts don’t leave you tired and hungry with nothing to show for it, or lost in a sea of what to do first, your friendly talonX crew decided we would make a handy-dandy guide to building a brand – keeping our trade secrets for ourselves of course.
Before you create your brand, you want to have some strategic planning for your business. What is your mission statement? What is your vision? The reason you want a well-planned mission statement is so that your brand always works towards your mission statement. Your business should also be working towards your mission, but that’s not for us to explain.
Get a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a bar napkin, whatever you can write on and start defining your company. Not sure where to start? Try writing your company name down with a ginormous equal sign beside it, next write everything your company is, go crazy, be abstract, include colours and cars – anything you can think of. Grab a new napkin and do the same thing, except this time, write everything your business is not. You’re not really going to do much with what your company isn’t, but it’s kinda nice to have it defined.
Pro tip: do this with your staff. A key to developing a brand is to have your staff 100% on board with it as they are the face of it, if you bring your employees into the creative process it creates greater buy-in.
When you are creating a brand, think of your brand as a person. What would they wear? What would they say? Thinking of your brand as a living breathing human with actions and reactions is a great way to build and operate with an authentic voice. When creating your businesses personality and style, authenticity is key. If a colour feels weird and out of place, don’t use it. Authenticity comes from the gut. Do a regular gut check, if it feels off, it probably is. Now it is time for logo creation, getting business cards and letterhead made, set up your social media accounts and establish a voice.
Check and see what your competition is doing and then do your own thing. Just because Apple is doing something cool, doesn’t mean that your brand needs it. Learn your target audience. For instance, if your target market is women, your brand should be appealing to your kind of woman. Being smaller gives you the advantage here, it means that you are not bogged down by layers of bureaucracy so you can change and adapt to the conversation on the fly.
We thought we would throw in some bonus tips for building your brand. Don’t just slap your logo on everything and think you’ve got it branded – you don’t. A brand is a logo, colours, words, tone, social media, and marketing. Basically, a good brand is in use every time your client sees or interacts with your company.
So don’t repeat the same message to them over and over and over again. Just like people, a brand should change and evolve. Don’t be boring.