When you are only getting started with your new business, caught up in all the excitement of putting it out there and sharing your skills and talents with the world.
It is important to not only write that business plan, and consider what you are going to offer and who to, but also how you are going to go about branding it.
Branding is what tells the story, creates a feeling, attachment, and connects. So while it may seem like just making your business pretty. Its function is far more important, then aesthetics.
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Seth Godin
So if you are just getting started, or wanting to re-brand, and really take the time to weave more of a story and identity into your brand, then here are some tips to help guide you and get you started on the branding journey.
1.Get to Know Yourself and your Business
Becoming a business owner is probably the fastest way to get to know yourself better. With the massive learning curves, improving your mindset, finding your voice and what you have to offer the world, learning to work alone and being self-motivated and getting knee deep in hard work. In many ways, going through the trenches of starting up a business, is also a perfect time to start thinking about how you will brand your business. The more you get to know yourself, and what your real purpose and passions are and how you can best serve others in your own unique way, the more you can intertwine that into your branding.
Don’t think ‘oh but it isn’t about me, it is about what I am selling’ or ‘it is about who I am selling to’.
It is about those things too, but the only way to set yourself apart from everyone else really is to be yourself. What unique qualities about yourself can you inject into your branding. Maybe it’s your humour, how you dress, your crazy love of kittens or your collection of 80s memorabilia. It doesn’t have to be relevant to what you sell, but it can be the thing that makes the way you brand it and present it different from anyone else.
And it doesn’t have to be super obvious, you can subtly add these things to your branding. Be inspired by who you are first.
The best way to do this is to create a mind map, start writing out things about who you are and things you like, things about your background and things you feel passionate about. Let these things inspire you. Create a mood board full of images that represent these various personality traits and see where it leads, and what ideas it triggers.
The next area to consider is the business itself. Depending on the style of business you have. Often it can have a personality of its own. This can sometimes be an accentuated part of your own personality.
Think about what the business stands for and believes in. What does it support, encourage and be part of? What is the bigger picture mission of the business? Beyond just what the products you sell do.
For example, if you sell swimsuits that make women feel comfortable and look good whatever their shape. Then it isn’t just about swimsuits and the beach lifestyle is it? The bigger picture mission of your brand is to make women feel good in their own skin, give them confidence and celebrate their bodies. So, of course, this needs to be intertwined with your branding. This is what will set you apart and draw people to your brand.
Now your bigger mission doesn’t always have to be huge. But think about who it is for and what it does for them or even how it affects the planet (such as natural, eco products). It could be supporting people, encouraging people, making an impact, changing the way people think about something, improving their lives in some way, even small ways. It can even be to help discourage things. Is there something negative that you are trying to get people away from or change behaviours or perceptions about. It may not always be obvious at first, but if you can pinpoint it, it will do so much for your brand.
2.Get to know your audience
Once you have a strong sense of self and your business personality, then it is time to get to know your audience. By really getting to know them, you can better design your branding to appeal to them.
Think about their background and their struggles. What they aspire to and dream of. What they want to improve and do better at. What their interests are the and the styles they love. What they talk about and think about. What will get them excited and inspired?
Much like when you looked at yourself, map out keywords and build a mood board around your research. Create a feel and style that they would love, aspire to and want to be part of their lives.
When you merge who you are, with what your business is all about, with who your audience is. THAT is where the branding magic happens. And that is how you create and design something unique, timeless, and enticing.
3.Don’t get Caught up in Trends
I see a lot of people, getting caught up in trends because it easily makes a design look good. It is what people like right now, it is familiar, and it looks good.
But it will fade, and it will date and worse, it won’t set you apart as different.
Now that doesn’t mean avoiding trends like the plague. IF it is appropriate, to your brand, and if it is also adaptable so that if it does start to date it can be changed without having to completely re-brand, then it can work.
You need to first consider what you want your identity to reflect and the message it is telling. That should always be the primary guide for designing your brand style and identity.
Trends can still be used to create one-off graphics like promos or social media images, but try to keep your core brand elements more rooted in identity and story then trends.
4.Ask Others how they Interpret your Branding
While you know the ins and outs of why you chose particular colours, fonts and other visual elements. It may be less obvious to an outsider.
The key here though is asking the right people. Don’t just throw up a post in a random business facebook group asking people if they like it.
You need to share it with people who fit perfectly into your ideal niche. The people you actually want it to attract.
Find out if it appeals to them, how it makes them feel, how they interpret it, what it makes them think of your business and of course does it draw them in.
If they are getting mixed messages, or the way it makes them feel, is not what you intended, it may be worth reviewing and taking the time to get to know your audience even more.
It is always interesting to hear how other people perceive things, and what they think of us. Often you will hear things you may not have thought of yourself and it will help you to better brand your business.
Going back to your business purpose and you as a person. People connect to stories. Stories don’t just have to be told with words though. Stories can also be told through visuals and through the subtle use of symbolism, colour and other elements that people associate with certain things. Like a parable. You can tell stories about your brand, through visuals and common well-known things. You can make more complex concepts easier to understand by using things people do understand.
As a simple example to help get you thinking- Want to show that your pillows are soft, cuddly and dreamy, then you could use things like clouds and teddy bears in your branding.
If you want to tell stories about what your brand does, and what it is about, consider how you can use visual cues to help people understand.
Good luck with your visual branding as you embark on your business adventure.
If you want help to go through the process and dive deeper, you can sign up for my free email course ‘Define Your Brand’s Visual Style’ below and take the time to define a timeless, unique style, that tells the story of your brand.