How To Build A Successful Brand
A good product idea or useful service offering may be the butter of any successful business, but the business branding is the bread that holds it together. We live in an age stimulated by digital media. We buy into color, sound, and shapes. The importance of a strong brand should never be underestimated. Without a brand, your business is lifeless, an unrecognizable offering amongst a sea of competitors. So if you’re concerned that your brand may be letting you down or you don’t have a brand to begin with, here are the critical steps to building one.
1. Be clear on who you are
Before you can start building any brand for your business, you need to be clear on who you are, and this will involve you asking yourself a few difficult questions:
- What is your company’s mission?
- Why are you different from your competitors?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What tone do you have?
- What are your company values?
These questions at first may be hard to answer, but they will form the basis of all the brand work to follow, and so you must refine your answers to them before moving onto creating visual elements. Sit down with your employees (if you have any), or if you are still at a very early stage of your business, then sit down with a few people who understand you and what you are trying to do and brainstorm a few ideas. This process is by far one of the most challenging parts of building a business brand, and it’s important to revisit it regularly to ensure that you stay consistent and true to your core values and message. This discovery process can seem time-consuming but keep at until you have clear definable answers to each of those questions. If this stage is troublesome for you, then you may wish to enlist the help of a professional brand building company that will help you identify a tone and theme that aligns with your vision and values.
2. Create a logo
Your company logo is perhaps the most crucial part of your business branding and will become the key identifier for your business. You want your logo to be instantly recognizable with you as a company and also to stand out from that of your competitors. Most company logos comprise of a few different elements, including a textual element, which may be your company name and a graphic element such as a company emblem. There’s no one way to create a logo, take a look at brands such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, and Apple, each of their logos are very different, Coca Cola is predominantly text-based but relies heavily on a very strong brand color, Starbucks has evolved a lot over the years but now is primarily image-based but again with consistent use of an intense brand color. Apple is perhaps one of the most famous logos of them all, a very simple clean image that is instantly recognizable and has no defining color. You can find plenty of logo design tips online if you want to have a crack at creating your logo yourself, or once again consult with a designer who may find it easier to encapsulate your company in an image form.
3. Create your other branded elements
Although your company logo forms the heart of your brand, you will also want to design and create other details such as a font, shape elements and brand colors for use across your website and in other media. Because your creative elements and logo need to align, these are often all created simultaneously. Most companies reach out to design and creative agencies through this stage to help them develop a set of brand elements that work together as one cohesive unit. The more information you can give to a creative agency, the better, so don’t hold back and ensure your personality shines through in your brief. When creating these elements it helps to have an understanding of where you will be using them, i.e. if you plan to conduct a lot of email marketing then it may be beneficial to have an email header and footer created as a part of your brand, or if you are going to be very active on social media then you may wish to also create image elements for use as your profile and header images. If your brand is going to create an app, then you may also need a favicon.
4. Create a set of brand guidelines
One of the critical parts of any successful brand is consistency, and having gone through the long and extensive process of building a set of branded elements, you will want to ensure that they are all used each and every time correctly. To do this, you will want to create a set of brand guidelines, and these will outline how each creative element is to be used down to tiny details such as how far from the margins logos should be placed and which colors should be used on which backgrounds. Your brand guidelines may be created and provided by your creative agency if you are using one. Otherwise, you may need to create them yourself. These guidelines should then be distributed to anyone and everyone who creates any design elements for your company, such as marketing collateral, and should also be circulated with your employees.
5. Return to your brand to analyze and improve upon it
No matter how good your brand is now, it will need to be updated at some stage or another. It’s virtually impossible for a brand to stand still for a long period of time. One example of a brand that has undergone a significant evolution is Starbucks, and you can see more of their brand journey here. Revisit your brand whenever your company undergoes any substantial changes and monitor the changing design landscape to see if there are ways you can make small iterative improvements to keep your brand identity modern and attractive.