Branding 101: How to Start From Scratch

Branding activities for new brands

Think of your favorite brand. What comes to mind? A flash of color, a tag line, a jingle, a logo? Any and all of the parts of a business that you can see, touch, hear, and taste are part of their branding. Branding is how customers understand a business, which means that creating a strong brand identity is essential to the success and longevity of any business.

We’ve been helping businesses brand and reposition themselves for almost 18 years. We’ve had people come in with a brand almost fully formed and we’ve had people come in with a logo idea and a dream. Regardless of where you are in your branding process, we suggest doing the following activities to help you crystallize your brand into something more clear and compelling.

Top 6 Branding Creation Activities

1. Figure out who your audience is

A big mistake that a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners make is assuming that they are their target audience. While they may be ONE of their target personas, it’s almost never the bulk of their target audience. There are often 2-3 personas that a brand starts out with in order to create a comprehensive and cohesive messaging and brand strategy.

You need to know who your target audience is so that you make sure that they will connect to the brand you build. If you create a brand with no one in particular in mind, then you’re going to have a lot of trouble finding an audience, which means that your branding efforts will have been for nothing. It’s only once you’ve pinpointed who your audience is that you can begin developing things like your mission statement and brand message.

2. Create a mission statement

Your brand’s mission statement is your purpose for existing. Once you have a mission statement, all of your other branding efforts will reflect that mission statement. The following are a few examples of mission statements of successful companies:

LinkedIn: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.

Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

Microsoft: To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.

3. Create your brand messaging

Your brand message essentially tells customers who you are, what you offer, and why your audience should care. Your messaging includes your brand promise, your positioning statement, and your unique value proposition.

Whatever product or service you offer, there are going to be hundreds if not thousands of other companies that provide similar products or services, often with bigger budgets and more resources at their fingertips. An important part of your branding efforts is to make your brand stand out from similar brands around the world. To do this, you need a unique value proposition.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t just include the features or benefits that your products or services provide, but how you improve the lives of your customers through those products and services, and what makes your brand different.

4. Create a visual identity

Once you’ve created your brand messaging, it’s time to create a visual identity. This includes choosing colors, fonts, your logo, and other stylistic elements. Businesses tend to go for impact–a logo that is easy to read and easy to identify as their own. Some of the most famous logos in the world include the McDonald’s golden arch, Apple’s apple, and Nike’s swoosh. These logos are so strong that they don’t even need the name of the company to be instantly identifiable.

The colors used in these logos as well as in the general visual branding of each company tend to have psychological effects. For example, green represents growth and health, while blue represents strength and dependability. One of the reasons almost every fast food business uses red in their branding is because it’s known to incite hunger. Think about what you want your brand to make your target audience feel and create a vision board or a shared document with inspiration from other brands, nature, art, music, etc.

5. Develop your brand’s voice

You want to use a tone that is appropriate for your business. Businesses that shy away from opinions or from having a personality are hard for customers to relate to. Personality is important if you want to engage with customers. Just make sure your voice is in line with your target audience. A good starting exercise is to think about words you’d want people to use to describe your business like “approachable,” ‘energectic,” and “knowledgeable.” This will help you figure out how your brand should sound.

6. Be consistent

Whatever branding choices you make, you have to stick with them across all channels. If you don’t, it makes your branding inconsistent, which hurts your brand identity. While products and services may change, your users want a consistent experience with your brand across platforms–if that continuity doesn’t exist, it can make your brand look unstable or unreliable to a consumer. Be sure to project consistency and confidence across all of you digital and real-world platforms.

Branding Doesn’t Happen Over Night

As much as we’d like to say there’s a magic wand that can make all of this come into being, it takes hard works, research, dedication, and love. But, you’re starting a brand so you have all of those already….right?

If you still need some help here are some other posts we’ve done that can get you farther along the branding path:

  1. The Pitfalls of Being Edgy
  2. What is Brand Repositioning?
  3. Adapt or Die: Is It Time for a Brand Refresh?
  4. 7 Signs It’s Time to Rebrand

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