Before we dive into HOW and WHEN to brand your business, it’s imperative we ask ourselves :: What, exactly, is branding?
Branding is, in one word, your reputation. It’s the unspoken introduction to your product or service. You won’t always be around to pitch to potential customers, so it’s important your branding makes the BEST first impression possible.
Yep. Highlight that part about accounting for a “consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” THIS is why you need to care about branding. Without effective branding, people won’t know what you’re selling or why it’s worth their time or money.
Denise Lee Yohn gives us a simple equation that we’ll explore below.
BRAND = CULTURE + CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE + COMMUNICATION
Think about the culture, or personality, of your business.
What kind of impression do you want to make on people when they first meet you? How do you want to come across?
What’s your “work style”? Example: Are you laid-back or buttoned-up?
Are interactions with your clients casual, formal, or somewhere in between?
What kind of company culture appeals to your target market? Example: are you an adventurous, outdoorsy brand that believes in giving back, or are you a modern, geeky tech company that has a playground for its employees?
Close your eyes and imagine how you want people to FEEL when they engage with your brand.
What is the #1 reason a consumer will choose YOU over someone else? What are your priorities as a brand :: quality, dependability, originality, price, availability, flexibility, quick turnaround, etc.?
What type of shopping/meeting environment do you want to create for your customers/clients?
What makes your customer service experience unique, memorable, and positive?
Develop a design language that communicates who you are, what you do, and how you do it.
As I’m sure you know, effective identity design goes well beyond a logo; it’s a unique collection of visuals that tells your story, resonates with your market, and drives sales.
Here are the components (see the simplified Style Guide below for examples):
Logo / a simple, unique mark that serves as the face of your brand
Color Palette / 2-5 coordinating colors that will be used in both print (business cards, stationery, packaging, signage) and web (website, blog, social media channels)
Typography / a collection of 2-5 fonts that you will use regularly for page titles, headings, body text, and quotes or metadata (callout or small text)
Supporting Graphics / a cohesive set of shapes, patterns, icons, and illustrations that strengthen brand recognition and complete your look
Photography + Film / product photos, headshots, social media images, brand films, and demos that have the same vibe (think about consistent lighting, colors, props, etc.)
IMPORTANT NOTES :: 1) If you’d like a professional to choose a collection of fonts for all of your marketing materials, be sure to ask for that; this example only shows the two fonts we used in the logo. 2) Your color palette should include Pantone numbers, CMYK values (for print), RGB values (for web), and HTML values (for web). These numbers are not shown in the example. I'll discuss the importance of Pantones in upcoming posts!
Ok, now that you have an idea of the visuals, don’t forget about copy.
Language plays a vital role in branding as well. Web copy, social media posts, and email communication should have a consistent style and personality. If you're interested in hiring a copywriter, I'd be happy to refer you to someone - just email us!
Culture and Customer Experience are really up to you, but you’ll probably need a professional to design an eye-catching and effective visual identity. Before you begin shopping for a designer, let me share a glimpse into our creative process…
Our mission at Akula Kreative is to build purpose into brands. Instead of just designing you a pretty logo, I want to dig deeper into what will set you apart from others in your field. So, today I'm sharing the actual questions—word for word—that I send to every single client before we begin. By taking the time to think about your brand strategically, you will not only establish a solid foundation for your business, but you’ll also have the information your designer will need to create a meaningful and lasting identity system.
Part I :: STRATEGY
What is your story? How, when, and why did you start your business?
What products or services do you offer?
What is your unique position in your industry? How do you stand out (i.e., what are you offering that others aren't)?
What is your target market? To whom are you selling?
If your ideal client were a character in a book, how would you describe her/him?
Examples: Where does she work? What does she wear? What is her style? What does she drink? Where does she vacation? What is important to her?
What about your brand (or brand experience) is going to catch this client's attention? How do you want your clients to feel when they engage with your brand?
Part II :: VISUALS
What 3-5 words would you use to describe the look and feel you want to achieve?
What colors are you considering for your brand?
(See pg. 26 of your Branding Workbook for Color Theory.)
Do you have a Pinterest board set up for brand inspiration?
Which logo type will best serve your business?
- Word Mark: only words (no graphics)
- Combination Mark: words + graphics
- Emblem: framed words + graphics, like a crest or badge
- Monogram: initial(s) + words
- I’m not sure
Which font styles will appeal to your ideal client AND communicate the right message about your brand?
(See pg. 5 of your Branding Workbook for notes on typography.)
- Brush Pen or Pointed Pen Calligraphy
- No preference (let us choose for you)
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Did you notice anything about how these questions are framed? Instead of “What colors do you like?” I ask, “What colors are you considering for your brand?” You see, it’s not about choosing what’s trendy or what you like personally; it’s about creating visuals that communicate the right message. Don’t worry, though…if you don’t have the time or patience to dive into color theory, you can simply hire someone to do this legwork for you. Just know that this consulting work will be an added expense.
In closing, if you can answer these questions—better yet, if you care about these questions—then YOU are my ideal client. Why? Because you’re serious about starting your business. You’re thinking things through and coming up with a plan. I’m confident that if you put this much thought into your brand identity, you will have the guts, determination, and heart to succeed.
- XO -
Related Article :: 10 Questions to Ask Every Brand Designer Before Hiring Them
Want us to email you when new Branding 101 topics hit the blog?
I’ll be talking about color theory, how to choose fonts for your brand, mood board creation, copywriting, and so much more.
The content in this article was taken from our Branding Workbook, a 40-page interactive booklet that walks you through the creative process to help you plan, get organized, and save money on your branding project.