Branding is possibly the biggest buzzword in business this decade. And rightfully so. Branding is everything your business projects. It includes company values and purpose, its mission statement, design language and tone of voice. It is the complete image of a business.
Branding determines the way your business is perceived and the way it interacts with its audience, be it customers, fans or followers.
Good branding is not easily achieved. It requires a lot of research and planning in order to get it just right. And it could be the difference between a business booming or never being able to really gain traction.
These 5 steps cover all the bases required to get the most out of your branding efforts, whether starting a new company or rebranding an existing one.
Get to know the market
The first thing to do when starting any business, before lunging into branding, is getting to know the market. Studying the target audience and competitors gives invaluable insight as to what should be done and what should be avoided, both in business and in branding.
To best understand your market, you need to dive into it. That means looking up similar products or services online and offline, checking out relevant message boards or Facebook groups, visiting competitor’s social media pages and talking to people who are involved in the field.
When doing this research, you should make note of who the customer base is. In many industries it’s possible to boil the customer base down into a few basic “personas”. If you design anime inspired clothing, for example, you may find your main customer base is relatively young, into cartoons and fans of Nintendo. This can be used to your advantage when it’s time to make branding decisions, which are meant to draw in customers.
Don’t neglect the competition. Get a gauge of what they’re doing and try to understand if it’s working for them. Study their interactions with followers on social media, how they present themselves and what their ideals are.
Define your brand
Defining your brand is, in essence, bringing it to life. Good branding is like creating a persona for your business.
Humanizing your brand by giving it a personality and a purpose defines what it is in the world. This is the best way to get your business to resonate with its target audience. With so many products and services out there, getting people to choose your company, has a lot to do with drawing out an emotional response, some sort of connection with your audience.
Try to write a well-defined mission statement, including a set of values that best represent the brand. This gives people something to relate to and an increased sense of purpose accompanied with buying what you’re selling.
To further humanize your brand, give it a tone of voice. This is the style in which you interact with people both online and offline. The tone should obviously be adapted to the situation, as you wouldn’t want customer service to use the same tone as a tweet, but keep a core of consistency, just like people do.
Find the perfect name
Knowing how to name your business is super important. A name is usually the first impression people will have of you, and first impressions are crucial.
A brand name should encompass all that the brand is, to encapsulate its personality and views previously determined.
Deciding on a name isn’t a simple task. The best names are catchy, yet simple, meaningful, yet sort of vague. To land on the right one, it’s best to brainstorm multiple ideas, checking their availability, similar brand names and their position in the market or on social media, and most importantly, testing the names on the target audience.
Much of this process is actually made much easier these days, with tools like Wix’s business name generator, which quickly brainstorms names for you and automatically checks their domain availability.
Create a design language
A design language encapsulates all visual elements of a brand.
This is the part people most associate with branding, and for a good reason. A brand’s design aesthetic is what creates the most immediate connection with potential customers.
This is where a lot of the research pays off. A well-defined target audience should point you in the right direction as to what may work best, what would cause them to interact with your brand in a positive manner.
Much of the design language is about colors. The color scheme you choose brings out an immediate guttural reaction, whether it’s a deep connection or being completely put off. This is why it’s crucial to get a gauge on what your target audience is in to.
Fonts are also a part of this. Different typefaces emit different vibes and should be fully understood before settled on.
The colorway and font direction need to work as part of a larger design scheme, to work towards a certain “feel”. Whether you think your audience would be into a more eclectic minimal design approach, or a steampunk infused 50’s vibe. The different design elements should achieve more than just being colors and fonts mixed together.
As with every major decision, this too should be tested on your target audience, either through surveys, a/b testing, or simply asking relevant people you may come into contact with.
Design a logo
Logo design is an extension of the design language and an important part of it. The logo is truly the face of the company, it is what may, one day, become iconic, immortalizing your brand.
A good logo needs to be able to be displayed absolutely anywhere, from pens to planes. You should aim for a versatile design, that can fit on many different shapes, and can be adapted to many forms. Go for a versatile design, one that’s easily adaptable and also easily reproduced. If a child can draw it, you’re on the right track.
It’s important to remember, logos aren’t created iconic, they gather meaning through the years, eventually becoming what you’ve envisioned.