Every entrepreneur has creativity flowing through the veins, whether they know it or not. The desire to build a business from the ground up takes a lot of gusto and skill, as well as a penchant for innovation and ingenuity.
But not every entrepreneur knows where to start with using that creativity to shape one of the most important aspects of their business—their brand. In this post we’ll explore the basics of building a strong, consistent, and noticeable brand that speaks to your clients and customers.
Step One: Know Thy Target Market
Say you’re trying to build a design company. You need to know more about your potential clients than “they are businesses or individuals who need something designed”. You need to know their age, location, education level, industry, and anything else you can find out.
Why? Because who your market is will tell you how to connect and communicate with them. Finding out who you are trying to talk to is the first step in knowing what kind of brand you should build. It isn’t enough for you to just go ahead and draft a logo that you personally like—your target market might not respond to your preferences at all.
Think of it this way; while anyone can communicate using gestures and stickmen, speaking the same language as your prospective clients is what makes them choose you. For example, you might have a target market of people between the ages of 20-30, and a plan to market your product or service to them through a direct mail campaign. But is that really the best way to get in touch with that market? Probably not.
To get to know who your market is, you can ask yourself:
- How old are my clients/customers?
- Is my product expensive? Is it seasonal?
- Do my clients/customers have children or are they married?
- Do they need to be familiar with e-commerce?
- Who needs or wants my product?
- What is their average level of education?
- Is my product a necessity, or a novelty?
To have a basic understanding of your target market, you should know how old they are, what their rough salaries are, if they are educated, and any other details that could affect the potential purchase of your product.
If you aren’t sure how to find answers for yourself, you can always try conducting surveys and focus groups, or hand out free samples where you think your target might be (universities, offices, etc.) and ask for feedback.
Step Two: Seeking a Style
After you know who you are talking to you need to figure out what language they are speaking. Is your audience more lively on mobile or desktop? Do they use social media often? Do they prefer casual tones or should you stick to more professional prose?
Now is the time to merge your personal preferences with those of your clients. You need to pick a tone and style in which to communicate with your clients. What kind of copy does your market respond to and how do you want your brand to be seen?
An excellent way to explore your options is to look at two campaigns for similar products. For example, look at how Dollar Shave Club speaks to their customers compared to how Gillette does. One is much more casual and personal, while the other has a distinct corporate feel.
While your style and tone still need to match your product, you still have a lot of creative freedom when it comes to how to shape your brand’s voice. Take a look at what your competitors are doing to get ideas and to see how you can turn yourself into a strong opponent.
Once you decide your business’s style and tone, you should make sure that you use it consistently throughout all of your marketing channels. That means emails, website copy, social media pages, ads, articles, blogs, and more. Make certain that you are comfortable with your tone and that it suits your brand because it will be difficult to change later on.
Step Three: Delivering the Design
Now you know who your audience is and how you want to speak to them, so you can use that information to fuel the creative fire and come up with a great name, colors, and logo.
First, you should know that a business name should be clear, easy to understand, and easy to spell. If we think back to Dollar Shave Club, we can safely assume that most people have a good idea as to what they offer and for how much without even seeing a logo or a website. You can flex your creative muscles a little more than that if you’d like, but make sure that your name tells people a little about who you are and what you do.
Now you need a logo and colors. Since you already picked a tone and style, you can use that to show your designer what you are looking for. If you are going with a corporate tone, something simple, clean, and professional will do. But if you decided that you want to be more personal and casual, you can play with typography and more abstract designs if it suits your fancy.
The colors in your logo will probably be used throughout your branding material for a long time, so make sure you don’t just pick them based on what’s trending. Remember to be unique and select a palette that suits your brand, your name, and also your style.
If it helps, get opinions from focus groups, friends, and colleagues on a few different versions to see what resonates best with the public.
Becoming a Brand
It’s common for entrepreneurs to miss out on just how important branding can be for their endeavors, even for solopreneurs and freelancers. Taking the time to dig into the details of who your customers are, and speaking to them in a way that entices them or that they appreciate can help to keep you in the forefront of your customers’ minds. Generally if they are thinking about you, they’re not thinking about the competition.
Listen to your customers, know your product, and understand that branding is a fluid and continuous aspect of your business so that you can hit the ground running.
What do you think is the most important aspect of branding?