Most entrepreneurs don’t have trouble recognizing why branding is important; they have trouble knowing where to start. Last week I covered the why of branding, but today I’m getting practical with the how. Here are 10 steps for creating, refining, and implementing a streamlined brand.
1. Write your mission statement
Your mission statement defines the purpose of your business/blog. It’s foundational; every branding decision you make should stem off of those 1-2 sentences. The types of services you offer, the tone of your business, the logo you choose, the colors you use – all of it should align with your mission statement.
I encourage you to spend some time coming up with a concise statement that captures the purpose of your business. Write down key words, think about what makes your business different from similar businesses in your industry, and highlight it in your statement. It may not come easily or overnight, and that’s okay. This step is foundational, so it shouldn’t be rushed or overlooked.
2. Define your ideal audience
Like I said last week, your brand is less about you and more about attracting your ideal customer. In order to attract them, you must first define them. What age are they? What gender? What is their occupation? What is their income level? What are their interests? The more detailed you are in your description, the more you will be able to zero in on that niche and appeal to them through your brand.
3. Develop your tone
Your tone is an intangible component of your brand that is often overlooked. While much attention is given to the visual aspects of a business or blog, not much attention is given to a brand’s voice. In order to streamline your brand, each component and detail – both visual and non-visual – needs to be considered. Would a sophisticated, professional tone or a slightly sarcastic tone be more appealing to your ideal audience? Does a friendly, encouraging tone fit your business or is a blunt, bold tone align better with your mission statement?
4. Create an inspiration board for visual reference
Inspiration boards are useful for determining the visual direction of a brand. They act as a guide as other tangible elements are designed, and I they help with brand consistency.
5. Create/refine your logo.
The logo is the step where many business owners and bloggers get stuck. It’s the component of branding that usually comes to mind first, and it makes a large impact on the way your audience will recognize and identify your brand.
6. Streamline fonts, colors, photos, and brand elements
Consistency is the key to developing brand recognition and loyalty. By repeatedly using the same visual elements, your audience will begin to identify and associate them with your business, even if they don’t see your logo. Spend time nailing down your brand’s colors, fonts, photos, graphic and illustrative styles, patterns, etc. and carry them out across all platforms.
7. Set and maintain brand standards
It’s also important to set both tangible and intangible guidelines for your brand. Make a list of categories (logo, colors, tone, images, etc.) and set your parameters for each one in detail. This is especially helpful if you have more than one person working with you so that your brand can maintain consistency. I’ve also found it helpful to include both what to do and what not to do.
8. Develop your brand strategy
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Focus most of your time and energy on those social media platforms that are the most appealing to your ideal customer. Nail down where your focus should be and think through your tone and your approach to those platforms.
9. Make a list of steps for your workflow and client experience
For your brand to be effective and streamlined, it must be carried out consistently across all points of contact with your audience. List out your workflow and client experience in detail and think through how each step can reflect your brand. Business cards, email signatures, client gifts, thank you notes, blog post graphics, return address labels, pricing guide PDFs, invoices, contracts, Facebook cover images – all of those aspects should be considered as you’re streamlining each element of your brand.
10. Stay consistent
Changing up your branding every couple years can be a hindrance to growing brand loyalty and increasing recognition with your audience. Stay consistent with your tone, visual direction, colors, patterns, typefaces, brand standards, and photos and your brand will become more professional and streamlined in no time.
What are some tips that you’ve found helpful for creating a streamlined brand? Are there any steps in this list that you hadn’t considered before?
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