A complete guide to creating a brand for your small business

A complete, step-by-step guide to creating a brand for your business. This how-to covers everything from defining your purpose, your brand personality, your customers, your brand voice and more!All right, so you already know how important branding is to the success of your business. As well as being a way to distinguish your business from others, it gives you credibility and helps you connect with your clients.

But how exactly do you go about creating a brand? And how do you make sure the brand is going in the right direction for your business? Let’s take a look, with this handy guide to creating a brand for your business.


Related post: The Branding Intro Workbook: amazing free resource for business owners

Start by defining who you are

In order to give your business a brand that really expresses what you’re all about, you’ll have to be able to clearly define who you are.

  • What do you do?
  • Why do you do it?
  • How are you different?
  • What are the benefits of your business?

It’s really important to focus in on specifics. The more you can close in on the details, the more you can be different from the competition and therefore stand out. Think about your personal story and how you came to start your business. There will probably be something there that makes you unique, approachable and relatable, and it will be a great starting point for building a brand that’s all about you.

Related post: Discovering your “why” and how it drives your business to success

Don’t forget your clients

Define who they are. This is key! Your brand exists in the mind of your clients. All this is for them, which is why it’s so important to understand EXACTLY what kind of clients you want to exist to serve. Again, start small and focused. There will always be room for growth later, but in the beginning, it’s useful to have a very particular kind of audience in mind.

Some points to consider:

  • demographics, such as age, location, income, job, etc.
  • other services they use
  • their pain points / the problem they need to find a solution to
  • the things they find important

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can appeal to everyone. If you try to build a brand for everyone, chances are you’ll end up with a brand for no one.

Also read: Why you need to define your ideal client

Research the competition

Go see what is out there already. This will give you a point of reference and something you can contrast against. It’s natural to see similar businesses that are doing great and want to imitate what they’re doing, but what you really want to do is work out how to be different.

See what gaps are being left. Learn from their mistakes. What’s working and not working with their branding? How consistent is their visual identity? What kind of colours/typography/images do they use? Are they prompt responding to comments on their social media pages? Is their website easy to navigate and does it provide all the information you’re looking for?

Take note, and think about how you can improve on it with your own branding.

Choose a brand personality

Having defined your business clearly and taken a look at what else exists out there, choosing a brand personality (a set of characteristics that will be attributed to your brand) for your business should come naturally. Having a few strong adjectives that describe your brand will really help to make further branding decisions a breeze.

Some characteristics you might assign to your business:

  • wholesome
  • sophisticated
  • outdoorsy
  • rebellious
  • cute
  • premium
  • creative

Click here to take the brand personality quiz!

Find your brand voice

The tone of voice you use for your business is not just what you say but also how you say it. There are always multiple ways of saying the same thing, but each of them can have a different effect on the listener, e.g. “why don’t you try something new” versus “be brave and do this”.

Your brand voice should be strongly dictated by your brand personality. It will be used on all written content, including your website, social media posts, emails and ads, and — importantly, as I’ll go more into a little later — it should be super consistent. Consistency builds familiarity, and familiarity builds trust in your customers.

Decide on your business name and tagline

Your business name is something you can’t easily change, so make sure you take the thought and time to get it right. There’s a lot of options to consider. You might go with doing business under your own name if you own a freelance or small business. Maybe use a made-up, abstract word. Maybe something more descriptive. Whatever you go with, you want to make sure it communicates effectively to your customers, is memorable, and highlights key elements from your brand message.

Not every business needs a tagline. If your business name already does a pretty good job of describing what you do, you can probably skip it. If you do want to use one though, it should be a short phrase (say, fewer than seven words) that sums up your business. While some very well known taglines, including Nike’s “Just do it” or McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it”, are rather vague, new small businesses should have a more definitive tagline that let customers know what your business does. No confusion.

Check out my tips for writing an inspiring tagline.

Develop your brand messaging

You can think of a brand message as a concise summary of what your business is all about. Why does it exist? What are its aims and values?

I don’t want to keep repeating myself but BE FOCUSED. No generic, “this could be the brand message of any business” vagueness. Your brand message should be something that can be read as a strategy and is made up of one or two (realistic) goals that define what your business is aiming towards.

Uber: “Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers.”

Amazon: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.”

All the decisions you make in regards to your branding should come back to your brand message. It’s the reason behind every “why”.

I also want to stress that your brand message is a great starting point, but your messaging as a whole will go far beyond this one statement. Your brand messaging will be present in every piece of copy you write. Your headings, social media captions, sales pages… EVERYTHING needs to communicate the value you provide as a brand.

So, start by writing a brand message and understand that it’s going to be something you can reference, pull details from and expand on.

Related post: An easy exercise for writing a brand message

Create a logo and other visual elements

This is the part that most people get really (and I think, understandably) excited about. Your logo and visual identity will be the face of your business and likely one of the first things that come to mind when people think of your brand. This makes your visual identity a crucial part of your branding to get right.

There’s a lot to be considered when designing a good logo. It needs to be versatile and applicable over a range of different uses (on signage, social media profile pictures, embroidered on shirts). And no logo exists in a vacuum. The entire visual identity should be considered as a whole.

Typography, colours, patterns and textures — make sure these elements fit together cohesively and appropriately reflect your brand personality and brand message. You definitely want to invest in a professional who can use their expertise to create something that will perform as needed, and also stand the test of time.

Related post: Why brand identity is important for your business

Always be consistent

After all the work you put into building a brand that suits your business, don’t weaken it by being inconsistent. Every single aspect of your business should keep to the tone you set. Even if it’s just a single tweet, or a small banner ad — know your brand style and stick to it.

Consistency leads to stronger brand equity, which in turn adds value to your products. Think of Coca-Cola. They have a strong, well-established brand, which allows them to charge more for their product versus other generic cola brands.

Everything you put out becomes a piece of your brand, so be sure to keep to your style guide and give your customers an experience they can always depend on.

Related post: How to maintain a consistent brand identity: things to check

A step-by-step guide to building a brand for your business. This comprehensive guide will explain how to create a strong foundation, develop a brand voice and design a visual identity.Last thoughts

So, this was a long post! Hopefully this guide to creating a brand provides a solid foundation for you to go and build a meaningful message and position for your business. Branding is a long journey that’s always evolving, as your business and audience grows. The key thing is to have a clearly defined understanding of who you are, what you do and why.

As long as all the elements that make up your brand support this, you can be sure that you’re sending a strong message to the right audience.

Want some guidance and help putting together a brand your ideal clients find irresistible? Here’s how we can work 1-on-1 together to bring your vision to life.

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