I love this definition of a brand strategy from Entrepreaur.com and believe it’s possible to pull together the information necessary to create a solid base for your brand. Whether you’re working with a professional designer or developing your own branding these pieces will give you a great place to start your branding.
Here are the five keys:
1 | ZERO IN ON YOUR CORE VALUES
Knowing your core values is a BIG DEAL! Why? Many small business owners want to design and run their own business because they want to live their values. Maybe you want more flexibility to travel, to be there after school with your kids, escape the cubicle or not have someone else in control of how much mula you’re going to make this year. These values of who and where you want to work, the lifestyle you visualize for you and your family will affect your business, and therefore our personal values usually overlap many of our business values.
Understanding the core values of your business and how they co-exist with your personal values are key to developing a brand you are deeply connected to in order to keep your business on track.
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they're probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.
MY CORE VALUES ARE:
Freedom, Connection + Simplicity
To me Freedom means:
Starting the day slowly. It’s not that I’m some cranky morning person I want to get up, do some yoga, tennis or a walk and read or listen to something that get’s me focused on business before sitting down at my desk to tackle the tasks for the day.
Prioritizing the my family and friends!
Being able to design for the people and businesses that get me excited.
The opportunity to work from anywhere.
Develop deeper relationships with friends and family.
Build strong relationships with my clients in order to create the best design solution for their brand.
Establish a network of trusted colleagues (ie. the solo entrepreneur's coworkers).
I’ve spent quite a bit of time simplifying things in my life over the past year. Holding on to fewer things. Only keeping the clothes, work, home goods that bring me the most joy.
Defining simple systems for my business to consistently communicate with my clients.
Helping my clients develop systems that simplify their business strategies for success.
2 | GET CLEAR ON YOUR BUSINESS PLAN, MISSION STATEMENT + GOALS
Understanding and preparing for where you want your business to be in 1, 3 and 5 years will keep you and your brand strategy focused. Develop measurable goals and objectives, mission statement and a business plan that outlines the products/services you have and are going to introduce this year.
You’ll be surprised by how these pieces influence the visual elements as you build out your brand, and how your keywords and values will pop off the page. Using all these elements to design your brand will show your client your professionalism and determination across all areas of your business.
3 | KNOW WHO YOUR CLIENT IS
You’ve probably heard this before, that’s because it’s SUPER important! Envision exactly who you want to work with and write it down so you can refer back to it. Be specific about what they do, how they dress, where they live and work, where they shop, what their values are, and what their life looks like. You want to know as much about them as possible. I encourage you to write it all down so you can easily visualize who they are. Describe them as if they are your best friend so you understand how to connect with them through your brand.
4 | FIND YOUR VOICE
All too often clients wait to write the copy for their business/website until after their logo design is complete. However, I recommend starting with the copy for your about page and product/service details before designing your original branding. Getting comfortable and refining how you want to speak with potential clients will help the designer marry the visual with the language you’re using to speak with clients.
*plus getting the text ready before your website and marketing materials are designed will alleviate the pressure to write under deadline and save you time and money on design. Not sure what to say or how to say it? It’s worth hiring a professional copywriter for your brand. They understand the importance of incorporating your keywords as well as how to communicate with your ideal customer.
5 | SET THE MOOD
Now it’s time to collect visuals that reflect your brand style. One that authentically expresses the attitude and energy of your business. The bright cheerful energy of a kids clothing designer will have a different vibe than a modern chic interior design firm. The visuals from your mood board should reflect the look of your business as well as relate to the clients you want to attract. Use Pinterest to gather images from around the web that fit the style you’re going for. You can see mine and a few for brands I’ve developed on my Pinterest page.
Create your brand mood board in two phases. Use phase one to pin all the images that fit your vision for your brand. Go crazy and select pieces that have the vibe you are interested in creating. Then, wait a few days, review the values and goals you outlined before you cull the images selecting only the images that truly speak to you. If you’re working with a designer they’ll be able to see visual themes and discuss them with you. If you’re branding your business yourself use a keen eye to look for the visual themes
Don’t be intimidated, by following these steps you’re well on your way to creating a brand strategy for your business. Put all the information you’ve gathered in the previous steps into one document. Use the information to create an online presence + materials to match your business's style
Determining the five key elements for your brand will keep your business focused and allow you to create a trusted brand within your niche in the marketplace.