A brand is much more than just a logo or font. A brand is every touchpoint a stakeholder encounters from a website to customer service to social media.
Building an original and compelling brand from scratch is very difficult in today’s overly-saturated marketplace because you need to ask yourself, “Who is my target audience? How should I design the brand? How should others view and interpret it? What should the messaging be about?" and "Will the messaging resonate with my target audience?"
As a branding expert and consultant for more than a decade, I’ve learned that these are some of the most important questions you need to answer when you're thinking about designing and launching a new business. You need to be able to answer all of these questions before the process of designing your brand.
Whether you're looking to launch a new business or change directions with an existing brand, here are the top things you should consider when creating a strong and unique brand image, identity, and company.
How do you define a brand today?
A brand is much more than just a name, font, logo, and color palette. A brand makes your business stick out in the market. A brand is how your target audience perceives your business and how it’s positioned top of mind.
When you think about Apple, Coke, or Nike, what comes to mind? Every single aspect of those businesses is a reflection of the brand.
However, it's important to note that consistency across all touch-points is critical to building a viable brand--from your website to your email newsletters to your customer service and everything in between The process starts with defining what your brand will look like and stand for.
Simple Brand Building Framework for Any Business - DEFT Methodology
Delve into research to define your target market and research your competitors
Select a niche or two and create customer personas based on your research
Pick a business name and create your tagline
Select a color palette and typeface
Design a logo and website
Experiment with your brand until you have enough data to determine whether it’s time to evolve or eliminate your brand
Create a budget and stick to it
Draft up a timeline and don’t go over that allotted time
Make sure your branding is consistent across all consumer touch points
First steps to Creating a Unique Brand
1). Delve into research and define your target market
Before you start the brand building process, you need to begin delving into researching your target market to define all of its characteristics including your target market and competitors.
Start by doing a simple Google search for your product or service area and evaluate all of your competitors
Read all message forums and social media channels that relate to your customers and listen to their conversations about what they buy and why they buy it
If you have an existing email list, then survey them on the brand name and what they are looking for in any new products or services
Keep a journal and record notes on the following as you conduct your research:
What pain points does your target market have? Why?
How can your product or service help them overcome or resolve these pain points?
Where do they hang out online and offline?
What social media channels do they use? When are they online and how frequently are they online?
Who are the easiest consumers you can reach now?
Who are your top competitors?
What type of language do your customers use? How can you connect with them?
You should have a thorough understanding of your target market, their pain points, and your competitors before moving on as it will help share your brand and position your business in the market.
2). Determine your brand's positioning and personality
As someone who has owned a handful of profitable businesses throughout the last decade, I've learned that you can’t please everyone and that specificity wins here every time. Be specific in what markets you're going to serve and the type of language you plan to use throughout your brand messaging.
Ask yourself the following:
What's your brand's positioning statement in the market?
This statement is a short summary that provides an overview of your place and position in the market. This should be limited to a paragraph at most. This should include your target market, their needs and wants, the main benefits of your products/services, and why your brand is different from the rest of the competition.
What words and phrases do you want to reflect your brand?
I always like to start the process by looking at the brand as if it were a person. What would this person be like? How would they act? How would they speak? What personality traits would this person have?
Let’s start this exercise by coming up with six adjectives to describe your brand. Here’s a bank of personality traits to get you started.
For my other business FemFounder, here’s some adjectives that describe it.
Creative, straightforward, experienced, feminine, strong, and authoritative.
What themes or concepts can describe your business?
What theme or concept describes your brand? Once you determine this, you can identify the traits you want your brand to have. This can be an animal, a book or movie, or a car. I think you get the point.
3. Pick a name that suits your business personality traits and theme.
The name of your brand matters so pick something that’s an accurate description of what you’re trying to promote and sell. You’ll also want to make sure that it looks good in a logo and that it’s not already trademarked. You want a business name that’s original so consumers don’t get confused, too.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Create a unique name like Xerox.
Use a word like Yahoo that’s unrelated to a brand.
Use a metaphor like TheLadders.com.
Modify a word by eliminating letters or adding numbers like Foundr.
Use initials like BMW.
Blend two words together: NutriSystem.
You’ll want to check to make sure your website URL is available before picking your brand name.
4. Select your brand’s color palette and typefaces
After you’ve picked the name, start thinking about how your brand will appear visually, such as your colors and typeface.
The colors you use as part of your brand will convey a specific emotion and look. Choose a color palette that differentiates your brand from every other brand out there.
Having an understanding of color psychology will help you choose the best color to define your brand.
Yellow = Optimism, clarity, and warmth
Orange = Friendly, cheerful, and confidence
Red = Excitement and bold
Purple = Creative, imaginative, and wise
Blue = Dependable, trust, and strength
Green = Peaceful, growth, and health
Grey = Balance and calmness
via The Logo Company
What colors accurately represent your brand?
Picking the right font
You’ll want to pick a font that matches your website design and brand colors. I always pick two types of font (no more) to keep the look clean and legible. I like to use one serif and one sans serif font together for a cool look.
5. Create your tagline or slogan.
A memorable and interesting slogan or tagline is great—something brief that you can include in all social media and on your business card. An effective slogan is a sentence and creates impact upon reading it. Here are some of my favorites:
It’s my money and I need it now. (JG Wentworth)
Don’t leave home without it. (American Express)
Taste the Feeling. (Coke)
It’s a Honey of an O. (Cheerios)
Because You're Worth It. (L'Oréal Paris)
The Happiest Place on Earth (Walt Disney World Resort)
Think Different. (Apple)
Red Bull gives you wiiings. (Red Bull)
If you’re like most entrepreneurs that I’ve worked in the past, then your logo is generally the first thing you think of when you start the branding process because it’s the leading visual element of your brand and will be everywhere. You’ll want a design that can fit on any size piece of marketing collateral. Think about all of the places your logo will be including social media, business cards, stationery, your website, etc. A square version with an icon or sub mark is great for social media profiles as most networks require a square image.
Here are some options you can use to help describe what you’re looking for to your designer.
An abstract designed logo doesn’t have a meaning. It’s a series of colors and shapes that don’t define any real design or meaning.
Mascot: KFC, Monopoly, and Pringles
Mascot logos usually contain a face of a character or an animal. They’re a bit antiquated but can look cool if you’re going for an old-time style.
Emblem: NFL and Warner Brothers
These logos are often triangular, circular, rectangular, or square and contain text with an emblem for a clean and professional look; however, they may not be distinguishable when they are resized to a smaller size, so keep this in mind if you choose this aesthetic.
Lettermark: HBO and CNN
These logos contain the initials of your entire business name. This format usually works for those businesses with long names or brands with multiple names.
A new brand should stay away from using an icon logo because it won’t be identifiable.
Wordmark: Sony and FedEx
Word mark logos seem to be common today. It contains your brand name, colors, and fonts in an identity visual. Please note, they’re more difficult to read when increased in size or shrunken down.
7. Experiment and evolve with your brand
Building a brand is a long-term and continuous process. As your business grows, your brand will evolve. Just remember that what your brand begins as will probably changes numerous times over time. I know that when I started FemFounder.co back in 2017, the brand colors were pink and the copy catered to creative female founders only; however, the brand is much more inclusive and caters to men and women startup founders in the digital and tech spaces.