Building a Strong Brand: a 6-Step Guide

When you're setting up a new business, one stage you absolutely cannot skip is developing a business branding plan.

Branding is creating a unique presence for your business that helps distinguish your company, products and services from others in the marketplace. Branding underpins all your marketing and promotion efforts, which will be much harder and much less successful if you - and your customers - don't know what your brand is.

The concept of branding has expanded over the years, from being simply a recognizable logo to other, less tangible factors that help paint a picture of what your company is all about.

There are several important business goals you want your branding to achieve. One of the most important is to define both your mission and vision for customers and deliver those consistently.

Good branding expresses your business values and differentiates you from your competitors. In addition, branding tells the story of your business in a way that engages your customers. It can inspire your employees too, and keep them focused on your goals.

Branding is also part of how you deliver what your customers expect from you. In fact, it's a crucial part of your relationship with customers, building trust from the time they first hear about your business, to the moment they interact with you, and long after a transaction is complete. A good brand can keep customers loyal to you rather than your competitors.

As you can see, you can't afford to ignore branding when building your business. So, let's get started with the groundwork you need to complete to create a strong brand.

Getting Started with Business Branding

Like all other aspects of business development, creating a branding plan requires information gathering. The purpose of this is to learn all you can about your customers and competitors so you can fine tune your branding and messaging.

The best approach is to ask questions that help you identify your competitive difference, the needs of your industry, and the value you bring to customers. That knowledge will be essential when you're ready to nail down your branding.

If you've worked on a business startup plan or digital marketing plan, you'll already have some of the information you need for your branding strategy. If not, now's the time to do it.

In our digital marketing guide, we covered the following key questions and showed you how to get the answers you needed:
  • Where is my industry going?
  • What's my target audience?
  • Who is my typical customer?
  • Who are my biggest direct competitors?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • What advantages does my business have over those competitors?
Other important questions to answer for your branding strategy include:
  • What is the mission of my business? What is its vision?
  • What values and qualities do I want people to associate with my business?
  • What do I want people to think and feel about my business?
Think of any major brand you love and you'll realize that they have gone through this process, but they aren't the only ones. Every business operates in a specific niche to serve particular customers. And all businesses aim to be different from their competitors, either in the range of services offered, or the way they offer those services.

The questions listed above will help you to articulate those differences and to reach some conclusions about the concepts and ideas that best represent your brand. Once you have a firm grasp of those concepts, you're ready to work on the marketing and promotional elements that will showcase your brand to the outside world. These include a logo, slogan or tagline, advertising, an explainer video, a business card and a brochure.

Step #1: Design Your Business Logo

If you think about the world's most recognizable brands, you can probably picture their logos immediately. See those logos and you conjure up memories of your association with that brand. Since your logo is one of the first things people see, it’s a great place to get started with your branding strategy.

In a nutshell, a good logo makes your business memorable. The aim is for customers who have seen your logo a couple of times to begin to recognize it. That starts to build their relationship with you and helps them to trust you. Over time, just seeing the logo will remind them of their interaction with your business. If that interaction is positive, they'll be more likely to buy from you again.

That's why it's so important to get your business logo right. For example, your logo design choices could include:

  • A logo that looks like a signature
  • A watercolor logo that looks like it's been painted
  • A flat logo, like the popular flat design style for mobile devices
  • A vintage logo, which has old-world charm
  • A free-flowing hand-drawn logo
  • A 3D logo
These are just a few examples of the wide range of business logo designs available. Based on your earlier research about your market and customers, as well as what you know about your mission, vision and values, you'll be able to choose a logo style that correctly represents the services your business provides and the values it represents.

Your Next Step

Insider tips for taking logo services

  • You'll need to use your logo in multiple locations, like on your website, in ads, on stationery, on printed materials, and more. For website use, check with your web designer to get the exact size you need to fit your existing design. You can then get your logo designer to give you a logo that's a perfect fit.
  • Repeat this exercise for anywhere else you need to use the logo. If you're planning to use it in printed materials, remember that you'll need a hi-res version with a resolution of at least 300 dpi so it looks crisp and sharp on the printed page.
  • Choose your logo colors carefully. Not only do colors increase brand recognition by up to 80%, but they also affect how people perceive your brand. You'll need to understand color psychology to choose colors that create the right perception of your business.
  • Finally, when you get a custom logo design, make sure the deal includes getting the source files for your logo. You'll need these if you want to make changes later and decide to work with another designer.

Step #2: Choose a Slogan and Tagline

After your logo, the next most important part of your branding is your slogan. Also known as a tagline, this is a short phrase or sentence that summarizes the most important message you want to deliver to your customers about your business or product. They're particularly important for marketing where people can't see your logo, like when listening to a podcast or radio ad.

You'll use the research we mentioned at the start of this guide to help you narrow down possible slogans. The best slogans are easy to remember, differentiate your brand, and make people feel positive about your company. In most cases, they're used in two main ways:

  1. To point out your product's biggest advantage. If you're the first, best or fastest at doing something, this will likely feature in your slogan.
  2. To highlight your business values.

  3. You'll need to decide which of these is more important. If you have an obvious major advantage over your competitors, then it's a no-brainer to highlight this in your tagline. If the differences between you are more subtle, a values-based slogan might be a better approach.

    Once you've made the decision, you'll be able to use that slogan in all your marketing and advertising, both with your logo and on business cards, brochures, banner ads and more.

    Your Next Steps

    Insider tips for using slogan & tagline services

    • The only good slogan is a slogan people remember, so make it catchy so that it sticks in people's minds.
    • Keep your slogan as short as possible. This has two main advantages. First, the shorter it is, the easier it will be to remember. Second, the shorter it is, the more easily you will be able to incorporate it into banner ads, website logos and any other promotional material.
    • Ensure that your slogan delivers either a clear message or a clear feeling to your reader and potential customer.
    • For example, a slogan like "great vehicle, great price" is focusing on the quality and cost of the vehicle. In contrast, a slogan like "anything you are looking for in a vehicle" focuses more on wish fulfilment and creating excitement about the vehicle. The bottom line? It matters how you say it.

Step #3: Promote with Banner Ads

When you're ready to promote your business online, one method you can use is a banner ad. Banner ads can help to attract customers and promote your business. When they incorporate your logo, slogan and brand colors, they can help people to become familiar with your business and start to associate that branding with you.

There are lots of potential uses for banner ads. For example, you might want to introduce your business, promote an event or acquire new customers and get sales. No matter what the purpose, it's essential to include a call to action as part of the banner text.

A call to action tells viewers what action you want them to take, such as visiting your website or signing up for email updates. For best results, make this action simple and specific.

Not only can you use banners on your own site (many businesses do this to promote events they're involved in) but you can also place banner ads on websites that target the audience you're trying to reach. If they offer complementary products and services, banner ads are a good cross-promotional tool.

Your Next Steps

Insider tips for using banner ad services

  • Make sure your banner ad designer includes your logo as part of the banner image, and that it's clearly visible. This will help people become familiar with your brand and recognize your business the next time they see it.
  • Ensure that your banner design stands out from the page where you plan to place it. If it has exactly the same look and feel as the page it's on, it's likely that no one will notice it.
  • Get the source files for your banner from your designer so that you can easily edit it and resize it for use in different locations.
  • Pay attention to the placement of your banner on a webpage. The lower down the page it is, the fewer people will see it and click on it.

Step #4: Create an Explainer Video

No matter which current research you look at, online video is a huge trend. Video gets more attention than text and keeps people engaged and on your site for longer. That's why it's important to include the creation of an explainer video in your business branding plan.

As the name suggests, an explainer video is a short video that clearly explains what your business is about. There are three main issues you must address if you want your explainer video to meet viewers' needs:

  • Who is your audience? (which customers are you talking to with the video?)
  • What problem are they experiencing?
  • What solution do you offer and how does it work?

Think about the answers to those questions and have them ready as you get to the next stage of preparing your explainer video.

To deliver the right message to your audience, and the answers to those questions, you'll need to handle the three core components of every video:

First, there's the script, which is your outline for the video. This includes all words spoken and any directions about actions or delivery. At this stage, you'll think about the most appropriate tone for your message, whether that's passionate, serious, humorous or something else.

Second, there's the voice. How do you want the person who's reading the text to sound? This may change depending on whether your script calls for professional or humorous delivery. Other factors to consider including the gender of the video narrator and their location. You wouldn't use an American voiceover for an explainer video for a UK audience, would you?

Third, there's the video imagery, which goes with the narration to deliver your message. There are several styles of video production to choose from, including whiteboard animation, 2D animation (with characters and a story), kinetic typography (where the words on the screen move) and many more.

Your Next Steps

Insider tips for using explainer video services

  • Even though this won't apply to all industries, don't be afraid to include humor in your video. The funnier your video is, the more likely people are to share it. With people watching countless hours of videos on YouTube and Facebook, you definitely want your explainer video to be shareable.
  • Let your scriptwriter and voiceover actor know who your audience is and tell them the kind of language they need to use to connect with your audience. Whether you're talking to sports fans, artists, students, children, or seniors, each group has its own language with a unique vocabulary and appropriate tone. Use the right language and tone in your script and voiceover to engage your audience and make them feel safer with and more connected to you.
  • When you upload your video to YouTube, remember to optimize your video so it will get as many views as possible.
  • Change your call to action depending on where you plan to upload the video. You might use the same video on your homepage and on YouTube, but what you want viewers to do will be very different. On your site, your call to action might ask them to sign up for your email newsletter or buy a product or service. On YouTube, you'll mainly be interested in getting people to your site.

 Step #5: Get a Business Card

Even in the era of digital marketing, a business card is still one of the best and fastest ways to give a customer or possible partner your contact details.

Business cards provide you with a professional way to share your key business information, especially at face-to-face networking events. Since you never know when you're going to meet a prospective customer, it pays to have business cards with you all the time.

Your business card is an excellent direct marketing tool and your first chance to make a good impression. As well as your logo and tagline, a business card can showcase your values, beliefs and expertise. While many business cards follow a standard format, there's no reason why your business card should be boring.

Your Next Step

Insider tips for using business card services

  • Keep your business card design clean. Avoid cluttering it with too many elements, as these only interrupt the reader.
  • Consider getting a unique gimmick for your business card. If you're a programmer, include a little code riddle on your card. If you're a writer, try a short phrase or word game. Do something that makes your client look at your business card and say, "I want to work with this person."
  • Avoid cluttering your business card with too many details. Those only interrupt the reader, so keep it clean with a limited number of elements.

Step #6: Prepare a Business Brochure

Brochures are another tried and true promotional tool, and an essential part of executing your business branding strategy. They're a great way to tell your personal story and the story of your business, to showcase your values, and to present your products. Most importantly, brochures can help you to engage your customers.

One way businesses use brochures is to highlight offers, discounts and sales. These provide an incentive for prospective customers to read it. Brochures can also help to present your business when attending a conference or exhibition.

Brochure Example

When you're deciding where to use your brochure, start by distributing it to your current customers, as they're already interested in what you have to offer. Then go back to the research you did at the start of your business branding process on who your typical customer is.

Dig deeper to figure out where they live and work, how they spend their free time, and where the best places to reach them are. That's where you can place your brochure with a targeted offer designed to attract their attention.

Your Next Step

Insider tips for using business brochure services

  • Like your logo, tagline and other parts of your branding, a brochure should reflect your brand. As with the video, it's important to get the language right to attract your target audience. This means paying attention to the copy, the images, the structure, and even the shape. Every aspect of your brochure can add value for the reader.
  • Imagery is important. Invest in high-quality and professional images as these will reflect the quality of your business. For example, if you own a restaurant business and you have high-quality images of your food then people will think about your business in the same way. This can apply to virtually any business.
  • Avoid the temptation to cram your brochure with information. Use white space and formatting to make your brochure readable. Too much clutter will make it hard to understand.

You’re Done!

As you can see, there are several components that go into creating your branding plan and executing it with the right design and promotional elements. Once you have these, then not only can you articulate your value and competitive difference to customers, but you can showcase it through your branding.

This is also excellent preparation for creating a digital marketing strategy, so your next step is to read that guide and see how the elements you have created for branding can help you market your business effectively.

Ready to put what you've learned into action?
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