HOW TO CREATE A KICKASS BRAND
Branding is one of the most essential ingredients in what makes a business a success.
It is what makes a business memorable and interesting.
It is what makes us stop the scroll and actually look at the content of that post and switch focus from whatever other thing we are doing at the time.
It is what gets attention.
And in this crazy online world we live in, that is like gold dust.
However, so many small business owners ignore this ingredient.
They get their logo, choose some colours & fonts and are on their way.
Not realising that there is so much more to this branding thing.
Business Dictionary defines branding as “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
They nailed it with the “aim to establish a significant and differentiated presence” – but really I feel there is so much more to branding than this definition.
Branding, at it’s core, is a businesses personality and how it is expressed tangibly in order to get (& stay) noticed.
It is expressed in many ways: logos, graphics, photography and words.
But what makes a kickass brand is how that all ties together to create meaning and connection.
In this post, I’ll take you through a process of how you can create your own kickass brand for your business.
It involves 3 layers.
BRAND LAYER #1 : KNOWLEDGE
Before we get stuck into the tangibles of branding we need to start from the beginning.
It will be know surprise to you that I’m bringing up your target market – because everything starts there.
You really need to know your target market better than you know yourself.
This impacts your branding greatly because of course we want to build a brand that is appealing to your ideal customer.
I could talk about this all day, and I have – in this blog post: The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Defining your Target Market.
Check that one out if you can’t honestly say you have done a deep dive into what makes your target audience tick.
The next thing you need to have an understanding of is what you offer – really.
I’m not talking here about the features of your product or service package.
I’m talking about the benefits, the outcome and the transformation.
Where is your ideal customer at when you first meet them? What are their challenges, pain points, frustrations or desires?
Then, where can you get them to be? How can you make them feel? What impact will that have on their lives.
It may sound trivial for day to day products but it still matters because this is what you need to sell not the widgets and gadgets that come as part of your package.
Finally, you need to know what your strengths are. Both from a business perspective and from a personal perspective (since as a small business owner you are so closely tied with what you offer).
What is it that makes you and your business unique and different?
What can you do better than anyone else?
What matters to you?
This is important to be aware of in order to create your brand as we really want to highlight these points.
BRAND LAYER #2 : MEANING
Once we have a good understanding of who we serve and how we serve them well – it’s now time to apply meaning to that in a way that your ideal customers will connect with.
Your brand statement is what ties all of the above lessons from layer #1 together – in a single sentence.
This is what you ultimately want everything to come back to.
Here’s a couple of formulas you can follow:
For Service Based Businesses:
“I help/inspire <describe your target market in a few words> <thing that you help them with> so that <target markets desire>”
For Product Based Businesses:
“I create/provide <what you sell including what makes it unique> for <describe your target market in a few words> so that <target markets desire>”.
What you want to be known for
As Jeff Bezos the creator of Amazon says “Your Brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
In other words, it is what you want to be known for.
This typically comprises of a few things:
- Mission Statement
If you don’t have these written up, I suggest you do it because it will make all the difference in ensuring you control the narrative about what others say about you.
The final element in this layer is the most fun but often forgotten – personality.
If your business was a person, how would you describe them?
What characteristics or traits would they have?
A good way to think about this is how you want your target audience to feel when they see your brand online: your website, your social graphics or your logo.
What do you want to invoke?
I suggest you write a list of personality traits you want to bring out.
BRAND LAYER #3 : EXPRESSION
Now it’s time to get into the surface level stuff. The things your audience will actually see.
This task should be considerably easier if you have done the ground work of the previous two layers.
And, often, if you are working with a (good) brand strategist or designer they will focus a lot of their questioning around those first two layers so that they can truly express what your business is about to your audience.
Core Brand Elements
The first thing we pull together for your brand are your core brand elements. These are items that would typically appear on your brand board.
These are your go-to building blocks on which you build your whole brand and comprise of:
- Colour palette
- Patterns, Lines or Backgrounds
When choosing these you want to make sure they fit the brand personality and values you want to showcase.
Once you have the basics in place, you will then think about all your business graphics from your website to your business cards to your social media templates to your invoices.
Every touchpoint you have with your customers or potential customers should tie in together, so they look and feel like your business.
The test here of a brilliant brand is if you didn’t have your business name or logo on it – would they still recognise it as coming from you?
When it comes to branding, photography plays a huge role. While stock photos can provide a good interim solution when we don’t have the budgets for custom photos, nothing can express your brand identity better than photos designed for that purpose.
Any great photographer will be able to bring your brand to life if given the direction of the type of vibe and personality you are going for.
We also want to see more of you!
Even if you have a product based business, personal branding is more important than ever before as it shows your ideal customer that there is a real person behind the business. It shows that you aren’t some faceless organisation but you are someone they can connect with on a real level.
And that is what creates loyalty.
Sadly, this is such a forgotten element of branding. However, your words have the potential to make a huge impact on your sales.
Nobody likes lacklustre copy. They want to be moved to take some sort of action and that is where copywriting comes in.
To create impactful copy involves many things but to help use words as part of your brand you can begin by building what my go-to copywriter, Jay Crisp Crow, calls a Word Bank.
This is a list of words and phrases that you will use consistently throughout your copy that will make your language recognisable as yours.
Once again think back to your values and your brand personality. What is it that you want to convey? Then share it always by weaving it through your copy.
The final element that will really take your branding beyond just words on a screen to true connection is story.
Story is all about sharing experiences (yours or your clients) to help people understand and visualise the message you want to convey.
This could be through the use of metaphors from other areas of your life that your audience can relate to or strong, direct examples.
This is what can tie all of the elements together into a really beautiful song that makes your brand truly irresistible.
Brand is what makes your business memorable and what will motivate your ideal customers to take action.
There are many layers to it beginning with Knowledge (Target Market, Offer and Strengths) and then applying meaning to that through your Brand Statement, Values and Personality.
Once you have those layers in place, only then can you begin to express what your brand is about in a connected way.
This will be done through your core brand elements, graphics, photography, words and, finally, story.
As you can see this is a big process and not one to be taken lightly. It certainly deserves its due diligence especially at the beginning because it is the foundation from which everything else will grow.
At the same time, I am a big believer in learning by doing. So please don’t get stuck in this branding phase for months on end. Instead, take a best guess, go with your gut and dive right in. You will always do better by trying to stand out in some way than trying to blend in with the crowd. Because who wants that?
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