Where to start when building your brand?
Building a brand isn't easy!
Why is that, because while the term branding has been around for ages, technology and it's rapid development has changed the landscape of consumerism just as quickly.
And while, as consumers, we are aware of this change in our growing feelings of distrust for companies and countless options, most business owners are struggling to catch up with these changes.
So what is branding?
Branding is the perception of your business to the customer. In olden days we thought of branding as a logo, the fonts we used, and our color palette.
And while this is still very much a part of building a brand, it's NOT all there is.
So if branding is the perception of your business to the customer, what does that mean, and how do you control it?!
The bad news is you can't control it, but you can influence it.
So today, I am going to layout 5 ways to influence the perception of your business to the customer.
5 Steps for Building a Brand
Step 1 - IDENTIFY BRAND VALUES
Brand values are the beliefs and ethics you choose to integrate into your business.
These values can be customer experience, sustainability practices, employee benefits, and so much more.
What matters when determining your brand values is that you stand behind them 110%.
Your brand values must resonate with you and the mission of your business.
You must ask yourself thoughtful questions like,
why does my business exist
how do I want this business to change the world for the better
why should people care
If you've decided to start a business to make more money and you haven't thought much more beyond that, your business is going to struggle.
Need examples of core values?
Check out Nike, Google, and Marie Forleo.
Once you have your core values outlined, you need to get clear and concise with your language. Say what needs to be said in 1-2 sentences max!
Step 2 - CRAFT YOUR BRAND MESSAGES
Brand messaging is how you talk to your audience and what you talk about. Your brand messages should align with your core values and build trust.
Let's say your brand believes that expecting parents should have access to paid time leave. As a business, you provide expecting parents (mothers and fathers) 6 months paid leave.
Your brand messaging would talk about this and other parental rights that your brand advocates for.
Successful brands have 3-5 main messages that they share regularly. When just starting, I recommend you start with three and add on when you feel comfortable.
Step 3 - GET CLEAR ON YOUR WHY
Dig deep on this one; people connect with stories, not products or services.
If you spent time hashing out your core values, you why should be relatively easy because they will probably overlap or intersect in some way.
For most of us, we have personal reasons as to why we started a business, and we have reasons that relate to the world.
Now is the time to tap into your personal why. What or who inspired you to leap. What gets you up out of bed each day, what energizes and excites you?
Here is where you need to allow space for vulnerability and authenticity.
Simon Sinek is famously known for his saying, "people don't buy what you do; they buy why do it."
Your core values and brand messaging should all point back to why.
Step 4 - KNOW YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER AVATAR
Knowing your ideal customer is critical in brand identity.
There's a saying 'when you speak to the masses, you speak to no one.'
This is true for business.
The clearer you are on who you serve the better you can
communicate with them in a way that builds trust and leads to action.
Not sure who your ideal customer is?
Start by asking yourself, who do I want to help most with my product or service?
*your answer can't be everyone*
From there ask yourself questions like
what type of job do they have
where do they live
how does my product or service make their life better or solve a problem for them
what type of people do they hang out with
what activities do they like
what brands are they loyal to
Your ideal customer avatar should have a name and a complete profile so that every time you create content, you are speaking directly to them
Step 5 - SHARE MORE OF YOUR STORY
The power of sharing more of your story and yourself cannot be understated here.
Once you've identified your ideal customer avatar, you'll know in what ways you relate with your ideal customer.
Maybe you share similar hobbies or interests. Knowing this will help you build trust and connection through your content.
Hobbies and interests aren't the only ways to connect; you can share relatable hardships, quirks, and inspirational insights.
Your customer wants to know who you are, and it's your job to find the ways you connect and relate with them.
There you have it, 5 simple steps to start building your brand! Let's do a quick recap.
Define 3-5 core brand values that your business believes.
Write out 3-5 brand messages that will be shared regularly.
Get super clear on your why and start sharing it.
Know your ideal customer through and through.
Share parts of your story.
Alright, now that you have the building blocks for starting a brand, what's next?
You have to put it all together to create a brand strategy - which simply put is the methods you use to communicate your brand to your audience.
Think website copy, social media, email marketing, content marketing, and so much more. If you think you are ready, you can use this resource here, How to Use Instagram for Business to start strategizing!
Hey there, I'm LeeAnn!
Elementary art teacher turned entrepreneur.
I'm a Pittsburgh based personal brand photographer helping female entrepreneurs elevate their brands with carefully curated content.
When I'm not working with my clients, I'm writing up blog posts just like this one to help novice entrepreneurs kick-start their learning!
If you loved this post then you'll want to make sure you sign-up to receive my newsletter where I share resources like this and so much more 1-2x a month!
Until next time!