Great brands aren’t created overnight. Behind every moment of brand recognition is the work of marketers who are managing how their companies are perceived each day. When you instantly recognize the swoosh of the Nike logo, the golden arches in front of a McDonald’s, or the sound of the Folgers jingle, that’s the result of a successful brand development strategy.
This means you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to be memorable. Just by putting your focus on brand building, you can turn your small business into one that your target audience will know and love.
We’ll guide you through what it takes to create a winning brand.
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Your visual identity provides the very first experience that customers have with your brand. The same way you notice a person’s hair color or fashion style before you know anything about their personality, your audience will see your logo and aesthetic before they know what your brand’s really all about.
In order to make your first impression count, you need to develop a visual brand that’s eye-catching, consistent, and reflective of who you are. Here’s how.
Select Your Color Palette
What will be your brand’s signature colors?
There are thousands of beautiful color combinations you can choose from, but ultimately, your color palette should give shoppers a sneak peek into your brand. Different colors can carry different meanings—for example, black can indicate luxury, while blue evokes trust—so choose wisely. Colors alone can shape perceptions.
A great example of smart color choice comes from BP, a major oil and gas company. The company uses inviting greens and yellows to “suggest heat, light, and nature.” These colors add to a positive, eco-friendly brand image—as if BP didn’t cause a massive oil spill in 2010.
Choose Your Font
Fonts similarly help set the tone for your brand. For example, a script font can be perfect for a feminine or sophisticated brand, while a bold sans serif font can be for the ultra-modern and strong. Select a font that will align well with your messaging. So, if you’re a luxury car dealer, you wouldn’t use Comic Sans.
Design Your Logo
With your colors and primary font selected, design a logo that will symbolize your entire brand. If there’s one part of your visual identity that builds brand recognition, this is it.
Be creative, but don’t go overboard. Some of the simplest logos—think Target’s red bullseye or Apple’s bitten apple—are the most memorable.
Understand Your Visual Aesthetic
When working on visual brand development, you’ll also need to outline your overall brand aesthetic that all of your future marketing collateral should align with. Create brand guidelines for the composition of your photos, videos, graphic designs, web design, and more. How much negative space should there be? What shapes and textures can be used? What should the lighting look like?
Pro tip: Save your brand assets in your content creation tool to make adhering to your guidelines fast and easy.
A strong visual identity will help you achieve brand awareness within your target market. With a deeper dive into the brand development process, you can ensure their eyes stay on you too.
These four steps will help you create a strong brand name that customers stay loyal to in the long term.
Define Your Vision, Mission, and Purpose
Once you’ve attracted your customer, your brand should make them feel connected to you too. This is where your vision statement, mission statement, and purpose can come in. Here’s how they work:
- Your vision statement defines what your brand aspires to do. IKEA’s vision is “to create a better everyday life for the many people.”
- Your mission statement defines how you’re working toward your vision. Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
- Your purpose defines why you exist. Crayola’s purpose is “to help parents and educators raise creatively-alive kids.”
Keep your audience in mind as you write out your vision, mission, and purpose. What are you doing for them or for the greater society that should make them care?
Know Your Values
Just like your vision, mission, and purpose, your brand values can facilitate connection between you and your potential customers. Choose 3-10 values or beliefs that act as the driving force behind your company. Examples from Virgin Media include “insatiable curiosity” and “heartfelt curiosity.”
Write a Tagline
Got milk? The California Milk Processor Board has used this well-known tagline for over 25 years. You may want to have a tagline for your brand that’s just as strong.
Not every brand needs one, but a tagline can be a simple, effective tool for getting your brand recognized—even if you’re running a radio ad, where visuals can’t be seen. Get some tagline inspo from brands like Staples (“That was easy.”) and KFC (“Finger lickin’ good.”).
Create Your Brand Positioning Statement
Another way to take brand development to another level is outlining your brand positioning statement. This is a brief paragraph that tells your audience what you can uniquely do for them. There’s no one way to write this statement, but it should minimally define:
- Your target audience
- Your audience’s pain points
- Your brand promise, or how you will alleviate those pain points
Just like a value proposition for a new product would illustrate why it’s the solution to a customer’s specific problem, your brand positioning statement should showcase your small business as an answer to your audience’s general needs.
You now know what will make you stand out from competitors, both visually and beneath the surface. How do you make sure your stand-out brand identity shines through in all your messaging and designs?
To align your marketing strategy with your brand development efforts, take these three steps.
Outline Your Brand Message
What’s the underlying message that you want to send through your content marketing? Knowing the answer to this question is an important part of building an effective brand. When you understand your key message, you’ll be better equipped to say what you actually want to communicate every time, and you’ll know if your copy really aligns with your brand.
Build Your Brand Personality and Voice
Shoppers always see your visual identity first, but if they stick around, they will learn about your brand personality too—and you better have a good one for them to meet. Engaging with your brand should feel like engaging with a real person. If your brand were a person:
- What would their interests be?
- How would they interact with other people?
- Would they be more professional or casual?
- Would they use emoji or slang?
If you have multiple social media managers or customer service reps, these personality and brand voice guidelines will help them provide a consistent experience for all customers.
Design With Your Style Guide in Mind
No matter what your copy sounds like or what channel you’re posting on, all of your designs should be consistent with the guidelines you set for your visual identity. This will create a consistent, memorable brand that draws consumers in, so they can stick around and get to know your brand further—ultimately creating loyalty. Get more tips for developing your brand strategy.