Brand Identity 101: A Guide to Building and Growing a Brand

August 15, 2019

So you've come to the realization that your brand - if you can even call it that - is all over the place. You are part of a large majority of businesses all over the world... and that's okay. Don't panic. Before you start deciding what shade of orange to use for your logo, let's take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

By fully understanding brand identity and brand development, your business will be able to differentiate from competitors, increase customer loyalty (tenfold), and streamline growth.

What is Branding?

I'll tell you what it's not. It's not just a logo. Sure... its a big part of your brand, but its far from everything. We are living in an entirely different era. 10,000 years ago, we lived in agrarian economy where we were able to pull things out of the ground and sell them easily. Now, thanks to the internet boom, we live in an experience economy. Consumers now expect an immersive brand experience from every business. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, says, "Branding is what people say about you when you're not in the room".

Branding is your reputation, its how consumers recognize you, and its the entire experience that your customers have when doing business with you.

So where should you begin? We've broken down the 2019 brand development strategy into 7 steps.

5-Steps to Building a Brand in 2019

For the purpose of this article I will be using examples from some of the most successful brands today: Starbucks has been able to differentiate from every other coffee shop and make price nearly irrelevant. I want your coffee shop to be able to compete with Starbucks. I want your athletic clothing line to be able to compete with Nike. I want your business to be able to compete with any Fortune 500 in your industry.

1) Target Audience and Customer Profile

In order to begin crafting your brand identity, you must first define your target audience. Trying to be everything to everyone is the fastest way to fail as a brand. Every successful business started with a very specific niche and expanded to fit their target audiences want and needs. Amazon started as a small book company and expanded into the largest online retailer in the world.

Narrow in on a single customer profile and identify characteristics like:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Profession
  5. Education
  6. Income
  7. Goals
  8. Pain Points
  9. Hobbies
  10. Brands they currently buy?

By creating a profile for your perfect customer, you can start to understand how to create a brand they will be loyal to. A 47 year old female artist probably won't be looking for the same product that a 19 year old, male, college student is looking for. Use your customer profile as a guideline when designing your brand identity. Think, "Would my perfect customer like this design?".

2) Find Your Brand Voice

Step two is to choose 3-4 words that describe the personality/vibe of your brand. What I like to do is look at my customer profile and choose three adjectives that would describe what they strive to be. The female artist might want to be "adventurous, creative, and friendly" whereas the male college student might strive to be "funny, bold, and outgoing,".

Your brand voice will set the tone for how your company presents itself and how it communicates with your target audience.

3) Create a Mood Board

I like to go to Pinterest and create a Pinterest Board for my business. Then all you have to do is search for images that fit your brand voice and showcase what your company offers. Starbucks might pin images that show a successful business woman, really clean designs, and modern coffee shops whereas Nike might pin images that show professional athletes, risk-takers, and innovative clothing. Your mood board might include:

  1. Examples of brands that your customer profile would buy
  2. Images that your company would post on social media
  3. Examples of what your website would look like
  4. Packaging inspiration

Creating a mood board makes it really easy to see how your company will communicate the brand voice through visual elements.

4) Create Your Logo, Color Palette, and Choose Fonts

Use the logo examples that you might have saved in your mood board to act as inspiration for your logo. Do the logos you saved have an icon or just text? Are the fonts bold, playful, or formal? Are there any colors that show up more often than others throughout your mood board? These are the things you should be noticing in your mood board when you go to design your logo or hire a logo designer.

After you've decided to go with a certain logo, color palette, and font, make sure everything still fits with your brand voice and doesn't seem out of place on your mood board. If everything looks good, you are on your way to building an incredible brand!

5) Be Consistent

Consistency is the difference between a good brand and a great brand. Don't deviate from your color palette or fonts. Make sure your website, social media posts, advertisements, product packaging, and even your brick-and-mortars location all communicate your brand voice through your visual elements. You can't forget about your copy either. Anytime there is writing for customers to read, make sure it stays in line with your brand voice.

A lot of businesses fail to keep consistency between their online and offline presence. Don't give your customers mixed messages.

Conclusion

All-in-all, building a brand isn't a single project. There is no "end-date". You have to consistently be developing your brand with every new web page, every new product packaging, and every new ad campaign. At the end of the day, your ability to focus on brand development will dictate whether or not you will be able to hold your ground when a big brand opens up across the street or begins selling the same product as you.

You can start by:

  1. Defining Your Customer Profile
  2. Finding Your Brand Voice
  3. Creating a Mood Board
  4. Designing Your Logo, Color Palette, and Choosing Fonts
  5. Being Consistent with Everything Your Business Does

If you don't have the time to focus on the little things, delegate to someone who can. You can hire a brand manager through Pence Branding and get unlimited graphic design services for just $299/month.

Other options include finding freelancers on Fiverr or Upwork, building an in-house design team, or hiring a local branding agency. You should research your options and find out what works best for your businesses needs.

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Author: Colten pence

Founder/CEO at Pence Branding, LLC
Ohio University Alumni
Bachelors of Business Administration

Building a brand has never been this easy

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