7 essential steps to building a brand
Many of my clients come to me starting from scratch with a brand new idea for a brand or business. Or, they are in a place where they are ready to take their existing brand down to the studs and completely overhaul their identity from the ground up. Building a brand from the start is my speciality, it involves lots of planning, strategy, and creative problem solving (these are a few of my favorite things). It’s a new year, and if you are building or rebuilding a brand – im here to spill the vanilla bean tea on what I would do if I had to build my brand all over again…
Oh, yeah and ps. I designed a freebie based on this blog waiting for you at the end.
I will never forget the moment when I shifted from freelancing to thinking, “I actually want to start a business here.” It happened on an epic hiking trip where I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone. One sleepless night, I got the idea.
Maybe you can relate. You’ve had that lightbulb moment, and you have an idea that you just can’t shake. But how do you turn that idea into a full-fledged brand?
To be clear, the journey from idea to implementing a brand and putting it out into the world is not easy. However, you don’t have to struggle. My first year of business taught me so many valuable lessons, and I strongly believe that no one can build your business for you. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make it a little easier for you, by providing the roadmap I wished I had when I started.
Branding is crucial for creative entrepreneurs because it helps differentiate them from their competition, builds recognition and trust with their audience, and effectively articulates the problem they solve. A strong brand also helps attract the right clients or customers and command higher product or service prices. Additionally, branding can help creative entrepreneurs stay focused on their goals and maintain consistency in messaging and visual identity.
After nearly two years of single-handedly building my brand, I’ve brought my vision to life and helped dozens of other creative entrepreneurs build and launch their brands online. I have a thing or two up my sleeve, and I understand what it means to build a brand on a strong foundation.
If I were building my business again from scratch, here’s what I would do.
Defining your brand is the first crucial step toward building a successful business. This involves creating a brand blueprint, which includes getting clear on your vision for the future. Start by imagining where you want your brand to be in 3 months, 1 year, and 3 years from now. This will help you set realistic and achievable goals that align with your overall vision for the life you want to lead and the business that is going to help make it happen.
Once you have a clear idea of your goals, reflect on what you want to achieve and what kind of impact you want your brand to make. Think about the core values and beliefs that drive you, and how you can translate those into the mission and values of your brand.
With a solid understanding of your goals and values, you can begin to define your brand’s mission statement. This statement should reflect the overall purpose of the brand, encapsulating its key goals and objectives clearly and concisely. Similarly, identify and articulate the brand’s core values, which represent the principles that guide the brand’s decisions and actions moving forward.
Finally, it is essential to identify the target audience for your brand. This involves understanding who the ideal customer is, what their needs and preferences are, and how your brand can meet those needs in a unique and compelling way. By tailoring your brand’s messaging and marketing efforts to the right group of people, you can build a strong and loyal customer base that will help to drive the success of your brand over the long term.
The next step I recommend is to conduct a deeper analysis of your target market. This involves analyzing your competition, which includes brands that offer goods or services similar to what you provide. Focus on those that are at the same level or slightly ahead of you in the game, and examine how they conduct business, as well as how they attract clients. This could involve examining their packages, pricing, branding, and other factors that impact their success.
As you conduct your research, take note of what draws you to your competitors and what doesn’t. Take what works for you and leave the rest. Remember that your competition is a resource, not a guide. You want to do business differently, and that’s okay (in, fact – I encourage it) . Take inspiration from those who have come before you, but add your own unique touch. Someone out there needs the special something that only you can offer.
In addition, take a closer look at your target audience. Who are they? What are their needs and pain points? How can you tailor your services to meet those needs? By understanding your audience better, you can create a more effective marketing strategy that helps you stand out from the competition. Remember, the goal is not just to survive in the market but to thrive!
Before you begin designing a logo or seeking inspiration on Pinterest, it’s essential to build a strong foundation for your brand by focusing on strategy. Start by establishing your brand’s voice, which should be informed by your personal brand, mission, values, and target audience. The goal is to create a brand that sounds like you and speaks to your ideal client.
Next, identify your unique selling proposition, which is what makes your solution, service, or brand stand out. Once you have a firm grasp on who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart, it’s time to determine your marketing channels. Decide how you will market your brand online, such as which social media platforms you will use to reach and interact with your clients and customers, and how you can use search engine optimization to help more people find your brand, website, and content.
Once you have identified where to market, determine how. Develop a content strategy to educate your audience and position yourself as the solution to their problems. When it comes to content, don’t wait until you feel ready to start sharing. There is a learning curve to every kind of content creation, and it’s okay to start imperfectly. You don’t have to create perfect content from the start before sharing it on social media or publishing long-form copy online. Start by sharing the behind-the-scenes of what you’re up to and the day-to-day of building your brand.
Now it’s time for the fun part – the step that gets your creative juices flowing and really makes your brand identity stand out. This is the step that almost everyone (including myself) can’t wait to dive into before they are ready, but I can tell you from experience that having a better understanding of steps 1, 2, and 3 will make your brand identity more impactful.
Your brand identity is the embodiment of your business. It’s what sets your business apart from others, and it encompasses a variety of elements that work together to establish a cohesive and recognizable identity. Your visual identity is the first thing people will notice about your brand, including your logo, color palette, typography, imagery, and any other visual elements that represent your brand. These elements should be carefully selected to reflect your brand’s values and personality. Once you have chosen them, it is important to stick with them as consistency can make a difference. In fact, presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23% (Forbes).
In addition to your visual identity, your messaging is a critical component of your brand identity. Your messaging should reflect your brand’s mission, values, and unique selling proposition and should be consistent across all marketing channels. This means your brand has a set guide on how it describes its audience, services, and solutions. By having a consistent message across all channels, your brand will be more easily recognizable and memorable to your target audience.
Finally, your personal brand is also an important part of your identity. Your personal brand represents your brand’s tone, voice, and overall personality, and should be reflected in all aspects of your marketing and messaging.86% of consumers prefer an authentic and honest brand personality on social networks (HubSpot). By creating a strong personal brand, you can help build trust and credibility with your audience and differentiate yourself from your competitors. So take the time to really think about your brand’s personality and values and how you can best convey them to your audience through your personal brand.
Now, it’s time to officially launch your brand. This is the moment you stake your claim in the world of business and make your mark. Typically, launching your brand involves launching a website, which can lead to some common pitfalls.
If you haven’t been serving clients or customers in any capacity, or if you haven’t been talking about your business online, then nobody will know about your launch. Waiting until your website is perfect before launching is also a mistake, as you’ll be waiting forever and lose momentum.
Even if you have a website up and running, hitting the “publish” button won’t automatically lead to sales success. Successful launches require experience, marketing, and strategically designed content creation. You need to know your goal for launching your brand/website and create your launch strategy accordingly.
At the end of the day, people are busy and have short attention spans. You need to give them a reason to care about your launch. What’s in it for them? Don’t make the same mistake I made when I first launched my original website. I spent a year building it and sharing my progress, but I assumed that people would care about the launch itself. Unfortunately, my website launch was met with silence, and the payoff was underwhelming.
I should have offered a valuable free resource to go along with my website launch and use it to start building my email list. That way, I would have been able to communicate “what’s in it for them” when they visited my website and been able to interact with my most engaged audience through email marketing (something that should be a non-negotiable part of your marketing strategy from the start).
Building a strong community of supporters and like-minded individuals is crucial for the success of any brand. It not only provides a sense of belonging for your audience, but also serves as a valuable resource for feedback, support, and advocacy.
One effective way to start building a community is to attend networking events. These events provide opportunities to meet new people, exchange ideas, and establish meaningful connections. You can also leverage these events to learn about new trends and best practices in your industry, which can help you stay ahead of the curve.
Another way to build a community is to engage with your audience on social media. A great goal for social media is to have real conversations with people in your inbox. You can integrate your personal brand and share in your stories to encourage engagement. In addition to responding to comments and sharing user-generated content, you can also use social media to share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your brand and team, which can make your audience feel more connected.
Creating your own events is also a way to bring your community together. This can include hosting a meetup or workshop related to your industry or niche, or even sponsoring a local event that aligns with your brand values.
Overall, building a community takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it. By investing in your audience and creating a sense of community, you can build a loyal following that will support your brand for years to come. By continuously engaging with your audience and providing value to your community, you can ensure that your brand remains relevant and top-of-mind.
One of the most important aspects of building a brand online is creating valuable and educational content that resonates with your target audience. This not only provides value to your audience, but also helps differentiate you from your competition and establishes you as an expert in your field.
In addition to social media, it is essential to create content on multiple platforms like your website, blog, YouTube channel, podcast, and more. By doing so, you can reach a wider audience and increase your chances of being discovered by potential customers.
Finally, utilizing SEO is key to making your content more discoverable to potential customers. • 68% of all online activities start with a search engine (bright edge). By optimizing your content for search engines, you can increase its visibility and improve your chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages. This can translate into more traffic to your website and ultimately more sales and revenue for your business.
To ensure that your brand remains relevant and effective over time, continually monitor and adjust your brand strategy. Keep an eye on market trends, analyze your competition, and stay up-to-date with your target audience’s needs and preferences. By adapting your brand strategy to changing circumstances, you can maintain the strength of your brand over time.
Building a brand is a long-term process that requires dedication, hard work, and consistency. First, define your brand by identifying your unique value proposition and what sets you apart from competitors. Conduct market research to understand your target audience and develop a brand strategy that aligns with your business objectives.
Establish your brand’s visual and verbal elements, such as your logo, tagline, and brand voice. Launch your brand through various channels, like social media, advertising, and public relations, to build brand awareness and attract your target audience.
Engage with your audience through social media, email marketing, events, and other channels to create a loyal following. Continually monitor and adjust your brand strategy as your brand grows and evolves to remain relevant and effective.
Building a brand requires creativity, analysis, and execution. Follow these steps and stay true to your brand’s mission and values to establish a strong and sustainable brand that resonates with your target audience.
Do you wish you had a roadmap for building your dream brand?
This checklist will guide you through the 7 essential steps to building a brand that will stand out in 2023 and beyond. From defining your brand to crafting your brand strategy and launching your brand, this checklist covers everything you need to know to build a successful brand.