Welcome to the wonderful world of creating your brand. This is all about engaging the creative part of your brain. Some of you will take to this like ducks to water and others maybe not so much. If you don’t, do not despair! We’ll give you handy tips and tricks along the way for how to be as creative as possible. Remember ideas always stem from something you’ve seen before, nothing is ever truly original.
With that being said, let’s jump into today’s topic!
What is branding and why is it so important?
It covers all the different ways that customers can interact with your business, from their experience on your website to the language you use to get your message across, to the way your products are presented in your retail store.
Everything you do says something about your business. Your brand is what ties your activities together, from advertisement to product packaging. Having clear brand guidelines means you’ll be providing a consistent message through your visuals and communication no matter what you’re doing.
Your brand is an opportunity to express why you are different from your competitors and build loyalty from the people who buy from you.
It needs to be strong enough to draw in and engage your audience. To do this you have to be noticeable and stand out from the crowd (your competitors) whilst also clearly communicating the reasons your target audience should trust your company.
When you launch your business, you’re going to be new to the market. People will have never heard of your name before. A strong brand will help provide the first impressions you want your customers to take away from their first encounters with you.
You might think that branding is all about you and your company. However, branding is all about getting into the shoes of your audience, understanding their needs, desires and preferences. This is why your market research is so important. You can’t understand how to effectively communicate if you don’t know who you’re communicating with!
Even though it is about your audience, you still need to live and breathe your brand to come across as authentic. Make sure that whatever experiences, imagery, or services you create for your sales and marketing, that this carries through to the end experience your customer actually receives.
Above all, once you have decided how your brand should come across you need to execute consistency across everything you do. It’s this consistency that will make what your brand stands for memorable in the long term.
Your brand assets can be broken down into the following list:
- Company name
- Company strapline
- Colour scheme
- Messages and copywriting
- Promotional materials including business cards, website, flyers, ads and so on
So a strong, well thought out and well-executed brand will help with:
- Delivering the right first impressions
- Standing out from your competition
- Helping customers understand if your company is targeted at them
- Demonstrate why people should trust your new company
- Provide authenticity around your core purpose
- Make it clear what you’re about with consistency across all activities
Now, achieving all this in a short space of time spent planning a business won’t be possible. Your brand will evolve over time so be careful about getting stuck, trying to achieve perfection from day 1.
With that warning in place, let’s take a look at these elements in more detail.
So, what should your brand consist of?
Before we get into the practical side of actually designing logos, visuals and materials we need to establish what your brand is all about. To start with, let’s think about these 3 areas of branding:
- Who you are and what you stand for.
- How you want to treat your clients.
- The tone of voice you’ll use to engage with people.
1. Who you are and what you stand for
Think about the words you would use to describe the ideas you want to get across.
Do you want your brand to be fun? Professional? Quirky? Silly? Helpful? Bold?
Writing down a simple description of what your business stands for is a great starting point. Make sure what you are describing is appropriate to the target audience you have identified. If you are setting up a bookkeeping firm then establishing a ‘quirky’ brand might differentiate you from competitors but if you are also striving to be professional it may work against that!
It’s also your chance to express what makes you unique and different from your competitors. Here are some ideas:
- High energy
2. How to treat your customers
Here you should consider what a new customer’s first experience with your brand might look like and what it looks like after the first contact.
- How receptive is your audience going to be to different types of marketing?
- Can you go for the hard sell or do you need to take a soft approach?
- Do you need to nurture potential clients for many weeks before they make a purchase or is your product targeting impulse buyers?
- Does every customer need the personal touch or do you need to get out of the way of your customer and let them make their own decisions unimpeded?
Considering these factors will affect how you shape your brand. The answers to these questions should begin to dictate the sort of language you’ll use in your messages. It’s also linked to our next area, your tone of voice.
3. The tone of voice you’ll use to engage with people
Once you have established the way you treat your clients you need to decide on a consistent approach to the way you communicate. Obviously, you want to be friendly, no-one wants to be unfriendly!
However, depending on your market and audience you have to be careful not to go so informal that it might be off-putting and reduce someone’s confidence in your product or service.
With your customer experience and tone of voice mapped out, you need to ensure that all your communications fit this theme. From the text in your adverts, to the call to action on your home page, to the descriptions on your product packaging.
Now, before we proceed further, there is something critical we have not covered yet.
How to decide on a name
You’ll likely have had company names in mind since you first started coming up with ideas back in week 2.
It’s pretty important you get this right early on. Your company name is not something you want to be changing if you can avoid it, what you decide on now is probably what you’ll be stuck with. It’s crucial when creating your brand.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas or decide what you should go for, here are some tips:
- Be appealing and relevant. You want to pick an appealing name that is relevant to what your company does (keeping in mind that you may pivot your idea to something else in the future).
- It should be fairly short. Long complicated names are hard to remember and hard to type into search engines! Many companies choose short, memorable names that aren’t that relevant to the business over long names that are more relevant.
- Make up a word! Combining words relevant to what you do can lead to something memorable. For example, a common technique is adding ‘ify’ onto the end of relevant words such as ‘Shopify’.
- Think laterally. What animal personalities represent your business the best? What do your products most sound/feel/taste like? Think a little bit strange to come up with interesting ideas. Add these words to your list and see if they could be modified or incorporated into your company name.
- Think literally. How do your customers interact with your products or services? Do they swipe/stretch/click/draw/eat? List these actions, they are all relevant words that could lead to a full company name!
- Make sure it’s clear. Be careful of creating a name that is too obscure for people to get the relevance, remember, or spell correctly. Your name is how your customer will identify you, and what they’re going to be telling their friends about.
Check your company name against these guidelines
- Private limited companies must have their names end with Ltd or Limited. Public limited companies must state this (or PLC) at the end of their name. Do not add the letters Inc. after your business name, unless the company is actually Incorporated.
- Offensive words and phrases are not permitted to be part of a company’s name. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an edgy brand if that’s what you feel you need to disrupt the market. Keeping to the coffee theme there’s a very famous coffee shop in Bermondsey Street, London that treads this path and knows their audience really well.
- The company name cannot suggest a connection to any government or local authority.
- Are you going to trademark your name? It may well be best to use a trademark lawyer to ensure that you are not infringing another company’s trademark.
- Try to pick a name that can grow with your company.
- You should also check the availability of website domains you may wish to purchase for your business, and if available, purchase it as soon as possible. It may also be worth investing in several domains, for example, both the .com and .co.uk domains.
Now you should have shortened your list somewhat, it’s time to pick the ones you think work the best and get some public opinion (or at least friends and family!).
Getting at least some public opinions is very valuable because friends and family can bring a lot of bias into their commentary both positive and negative. People need to get the relevance to what your company does without being prompted. If it needs to be explained, it may not be clear. Use this feedback to guide you in the right direction and inform your final decision.
Pick a brand name!
Once you have chosen your name you have a few steps you need to take:
- Register your domain name
- Grab the social media accounts
- Set up your email addresses
Each of these is important to do as soon as you’re set on your name. You never know if someone is looking to start a business in the same name, so it’s important to grab the domains and social media handles whilst they’re available.
Choosing a strapline
The company strapline is another tool in the branding toolbox to help differentiate yourself from competitors and say something memorable about the values you’ve just identified.
What your slogan should get across:
You should approach your strapline in a similar way to your startup’s name, you are still trying to get across the same values and tone that you have decided upon for your company but you are now expressing it in a different way.
You have a bit more space now to demonstrate the tone you want to use, whether that is predominantly friendly, traditional, techie etc. The strapline is the perfect place to get across what is unique about your company, and what you are focused on. Perhaps it’s bringing amazing customer service in an industry that is neglecting it or delivering a handmade product that is mostly being mass-produced these days. Either way, your slogan is a great way to put that front and centre!
Like your company name, you need to start by generating a large list of options. A lot of the same advice is relevant here.
- Keep it short and simple, this helps with recall.
- Describe the unique selling points of your product/service
- Think about the tone you have decided upon. Make sure the language matches up exactly to this.
- Consider how your slogan can compliment your name and (when you get onto it) your logo
You absolutely need to follow this up with feedback once more to make sure you hit the tone and response you intend.
The focus of this post was to make sure that you have a solid framework to go ahead when creating your brand as you want it.
You should be on the way to completing the following:
- You’ve decided on
- Who are you and what do you stand for?
- How do you want to treat your clients?
- What is your company’s tone of voice?
- The key to good branding is consistency!
- You’ve chosen your company name
- You’ve chosen your a strapline
In the next article, part 2 of creating your brand, we are going to move onto creating your brand imagery, assets and logo.
This blog post about creating your brand forms part of our series on how to start a business in 90 days. For an overview of the series and all the blog posts so far click here.