In this 10-minute read:
- What is a brand?
- How to create your brand
- How to build your brand and create awareness
Your brand is your company’s identity. A lot of thought and strategy should be put into building that identity.
Your brand is how you start and continue to build a relationship of trust with your customers and encourage them to keep coming back.
The brand of your business is how consumers come to recognize your company and choose it over less familiar competitors. You need to build a brand that your customers will trust and rely upon.
What is a brand?
We hear the term “brand” thrown around constantly.
“You need more brand awareness.”
“You need to keep consistent with your brand.”
Usually, that comes with some good advice but in order to truly build a solid brand, it’s important to understand what a brand is and what it encompasses. Your brand should be a lot more than just a logo, font, and colors.
Your brand is your customer’s entire perception of your company. When they see your logo (yes, your branding) what do they think or feel? Are good thoughts associated with your brand?
All of these things that people say about your company—the good, the bad, and the ugly—become your brand. So, it’s up to you to start the conversation and get people excited about your brand.
How to create your brand
As you are creating your brand, several steps factor into how your company will be perceived. We’ve created a guide with ten steps to creating a brand for your small business.
Step 1: Define your audience
You can’t successfully launch a brand (or business, new product, service, etc.) without knowing who your audience is. Your audience should drive most of the decisions behind your brand.
After all, you are trying to appeal to them and convince them to spend money with you over and over.
Start by defining the target demographics of the audience for your brand.
Once you have those things determined, you need to learn more about your audience. Ask yourself these questions to create a good persona for your target customer (and don’t just ask yourself, but ask people who fit into your target demographic).
- What kinds of things do they like to do?
- What motivates them?
- What does an average day look like for them?
- What general pain points does a typical day bring?
- What brands do they already enjoy?
- How can your brand appeal to them and solve their problems?
Step 2: Create a mission statement
What is your brand’s mission? What purpose are you trying to serve in establishing your brand?
This is where the passion for your business should shine. Customers connect much more with a brand that emphasizes a purpose and cares about their work.
What value does your company provide to its customers?
Your brand’s mission should encompass all of this, and every aspect of your business should reflect the mission. Your marketing, your voice, your personality, all of it.
Step 3: Conduct brand research within your industry
Conduct brand research within your industry to determine what is already out there. Learn about what has been successful for other brands and where they may fall short. What is the general consensus about other brands in the eyes of their customers?
Read online reviews, conduct surveys, hold focus groups, and talk to people to learn what they like about specific brands. Use your findings to fuel the design process.
Some things to look for as you perform competitor brand research:
- Messaging and design assets
- Quality of products and services
- Online reviews and mentions
- Marketing efforts
Step 4: Outline the characteristics of your brand
What does your brand bring to the table? You’re likely not the first company that has similar offerings in your industry. So, what makes you unique?
Outline the characteristics of your brand that drive your message and purpose, and use those to help guide your design and brand assets.
Here are a few questions that can help you determine your company’s best qualities:
- What benefits does your brand offer?
- What unique qualities does your company have?
- What sets your offerings apart from your competitors?
These characteristics will help define your brand and find the inspiration you need to fully design your brand.
Step 5: Create your logo
Every brand needs a face. Your logo should be that face. A logo is the image people come to associate with your brand. It helps them recognize your business quickly. And as we’ve already discussed, consumers will connect their personal feelings about your business with your logo.
Use each step up to this point to help drive your logo design. What is going to resonate well with your target audience? How does it reflect your mission? What characteristics of your brand shine through in your logo?
A few important aspects you should keep in mind as you design your logo:
Your logo has to identify your brand. It sets the tone for your entire brand. Think about the fonts and colors and how well they reflect your mission and values.
If people can’t read your logo or determine what it is, then it’s going to be difficult creating cohesive brand awareness. We’ve seen many logos that may have seemed “beautiful” or “cool” to the designer but were completely illegible.
Run your logo by multiple people to see what they think of it and make sure they are able to clearlyidentify what is says.
From too many words to complex designs, logos can easily become busy and hard on the eyes. In logo design, less is more. Keep it simple with one or two words and an icon.
Think of Nike’s swoosh. Your logo should be simple to identify in seconds and doesn’t need to be some grand work of art that shows off everything your company does.
We shouldn’t have to stress this one, but your logo should be unique. As you are gaining inspiration for your logo, make sure you don’t rip off someone else’s design. You want your brand to stand out.
This is probably the most important aspect of designing your logo. Your logo will be on all of your marketing materials—website, online ads, brochures, billboards, commercials, etc. It needs to be created in a way that can be adapted for all of the platforms you plan to use it on.
If you aren’t a graphic designer, we highly suggest hiring someone to help design your logo. A good professional designer—with experience designing successful logos—will learn about your company, your mission, and your audience to help you arrive at the perfect logo for your business.
Step 6: Establish a tagline
Creating a tagline can be a difficult task because there’s so much you want to say about your business. But a tagline should be short and sweet, so we have some simple steps to help you establish the perfect tagline for your brand.
- Summarize your business and what it does in a few short sentences.
- Cut it down.
- Cut that down even further to just one short sentence.
Try this a few times with different phrases until you find something that resonates with your brand. You could even have a fun competition and ask other people to help you get some ideas.
Step 7: Find your brand’s voice
What is the takeaway that you want people to have upon associating with your brand? After they see a commercial or see a social media post, what do you want them to feel?
The personality of your brand is the voice that it carries, and this should be consistent across all of your branding materials and throughout your business.
Step 8: Form a message
Everything leading up to this point should help you to form the perfect messaging for your brand. Your website, your ads, your commercials, your product packing all need to carry the same message to your customers.
What is that message?
Step 9: Use your brand everywhere
Once you have identified your brand and created assets for it, use them everywhere. All of your social media platforms, online business profiles, website, company vehicles, swag, etc., should show off your brand.
This is how you build brand recognition (more on this shortly).
Step 10: Stay consistent with your brand
Consistency is everything. Stay consistent with your brand across platforms. It will get confusing to consumers if they see one representation of your brand on your website but another in your office or store.
This doesn’t mean that you have to use the exact same version of your logo everywhere (remember, it should be adaptable). But there should be a consistent feel across the various places that your brand is displayed. It should all feel like it is one business.
How to build your brand and create awareness
Before you get too far into creating your brand, you should understand the effort that it is going to take to make your brand known and get the word out about it. Building a brand isn’t simply creating a logo (as you’ve already learned), it’s creating a reputation and overall perception of your company.
The following items will help you to understand what you can do to further build your brand and expand its awareness.
While it certainly isn’t everything, design is a huge part of your brand. The visual materials that come with your brand are what people come to recognize and associate with your business.
It’s important to ensure professional and high-quality design across your brand. Sloppy design can easily turn customers off to your business even if you do have the best product or service around.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply in the business world. While it may seem unfair, we have to recognize that consumers are visual and will be drawn towards things that are aesthetically pleasing to them.
It all comes down to how the consumer experiences your brand. What was their experience in-person with you or your employees? What was their online experience like? Was your website difficult to navigate? Did they find the information they needed on your social media platforms?
User experience is one way that you can help control the conversation about your brand and how it is perceived. Create company values that ensure great customer service and a phenomenal consumer experience.
If you can do this, word will get out about your brand just from the mouth of your own customers (both offline and online).
But you need more than just the word of your customers to build your brand, especially in the beginning.
SEO and online content
Customers need to be able to find your brand online. This is the way the world works now. People go on Google to search a new service they need and then they look at the top few results to determine who to go to.
Are you in those top results?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you can help your business and brand show up organically on Google. And a huge part of that is creating quality content on your website.
Write helpful content on your website about your business to help your business get found online.
Here’s a quick guide that you can use to help boost your searchability: 15 free tips for better search rankings
Social media marketing
With all of the time that people spend on social media, there are some great opportunities here for increasing your brand awareness.
Create social media profiles for your business and start building up your following. Share helpful tidbits of information, inspirational quotes, and entertaining videos or images.
As your followers engage with and share these posts, your brand awareness will continue to grow.
Most social media platforms have some form of advertising that allows you to target specific audiences. You can create ads that show off your brand.
While people may not click on the ads or even pay a lot of attention to them, the more they see these ads in their social feeds, the more they come to recognize your brand when they are ready to do a search for your services or products.
Here are a few simple tutorials to help you set up your social profiles:
Beyond social media advertising, other ways to advertise your brand include Google Ads, in-stream video placements, and more traditional methods like radio commercials and billboards.
Determine where your audience spends their time and identify the best opportunities for ad placements.
Improve your online reputation and work to earn more reviews
A huge way to increase brand awareness is to improve your online reputation. By getting new online reviews on a regular basis, you show potential customers that you are at the top of your game and ready to help.
Womply’s data shows businesses that get lots of “fresh” reviews earn up to 108% more than the average business!
Womply’s reputation management software can help your small business save time and easily implement a review strategy through automated review management and responses. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!