When you’re starting a business, the first thing to do after creating an effective brand name is to begin crafting your brand image. Branding will establish your company’s personality and embody its values, promises and culture. Potential customers will make buying decisions based partly on your branding, which, if done well, will set you apart from competitors and make you memorable.
Once you’ve created your brand image, it should flow to all your customer-facing communications, including signs, social media accounts, printed materials, brick-and-mortar decor and even what your employees wear to work.
How to create a new brand image
Branding is an essential part of your business’s marketing plan and will inform and direct all future marketing efforts. Here’s how to get started.
1. Start gathering data to craft your brand.
Before creating their brand, business owners must create a market research plan to gather data and track industry trends. There are several aspects to consider in this phase. Take these steps:
- Find your target audience. First, you must pinpoint your target audience. These people are interested in discovering your content, buying your products and subscribing to your email newsletters.
- Build customer personas. Now is a great time to start building customer personas to learn whom you’ll target during the branding process. For example, if you discover that your audience is primarily 50 or older, you’ll want to avoid slang and focus on building a brand with a clear message and design. If you want to build a brand that attracts Gen Zers and millennials, you’ll have a vastly different design and voice that may be more colorful and edgy.
- Discover the content your audience enjoys. If you already have a business website, use Google Analytics data to see the content or products your existing audience enjoys. If you don’t already have this data, examine your direct competitors’ websites and social media accounts to get an idea of what resonates with your target market.
Once you’ve gathered this information, you can move on to the next step.
2. Create your new brand logo.
Logos are essential to your business’s success. It doesn’t matter if you’re rebranding a business or starting from scratch; you should always take the time to design a logo that fits your brand voice and identity. Consider the following tips:
- Choose colors thoughtfully. Color can significantly affect how people see and respond to your brand online. For example, color psychology studies show that companies with blue in their logos create a sense of trust with their audience. Companies such as Facebook, Dell and AT&T use this tactic. On the other hand, businesses that sell health- or nature-related items or promote concepts of fortune and wealth may consider using green in their logos. There’s a reason companies such as John Deere and Whole Foods use eye-catching green shades in their logos.
- Consider graphic elements and fonts. Use graphic elements and fonts that align with your brand’s personality. Serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, are more traditional and work well for financial institutions. On the other hand, sans-serif fonts, like Helvetica, have a sleeker, more modern look and are suitable for tech companies. Either way, ensure your company name is legible.
- Keep your target audience in mind. When designing your logo, it’s crucial to consider your target audience and their preferences. If you create a logo that doesn’t resonate with your potential customers, there’s a good chance you’ll see minimal traffic and conversions.
Few know more about building a successful brand than Greg Hoffman, former chief marketing officer and vice president of global brand innovation for Nike. In a conversation with our b. newsletter team, Hoffman discussed how critical it is to have a brand document that outlines your values. You can learn more about Hoffman’s advice here. For similar tips from leading experts, check out our b. newsletter every Tuesday and Friday. You can sign up here.
3. Establish your brand voice.
After you craft your new logo, it’s time to think about building your brand voice. Your brand voice emerges during every customer interaction. In most cases, consumers will come to know your brand voice through your blog, website, social media posts and customer support team.
- Your website: Create your web copy first, and build your About page, Contact page, Sales page, FAQs and more. Ensure you use the same tone and voice throughout the content. Some examples of brand voices include friendly, funny and absurd (Old Spice); positive and inspiring (Nike); proud and exclusive (BMW); and aggressive and strong (Harley-Davidson). If you’re going to start with a sense of humor, you must be willing to carry that voice as your business grows.
- Your blog: Small business blogs are an excellent way to grab new visitors’ attention. Very few people come to your website and buy something instantly. You must create a reason for leads to return to your website. Blog posts based around your niche are an excellent way to establish your brand voice and keep your audience engaged as they get closer to purchasing. As a bonus, you can repurpose blog content on your social media accounts.
- Your customer service: Excellent customer service can significantly affect how the public sees your company. Usually, people contact customer support if they have a question or problem with their order. Winning over these customers or interested leads is vital to success. If you want to increase the odds that customers will remember your company, keep your customer service team aligned with your brand voice.
4. Start building traction with your brand image.
Once you’ve created your new image, you must let potential leads and customers know you’re launching a new business or reimagining an existing company. Follow these tips to start building traction with your brand image:
- Give customers a heads-up. It’s much easier to build traction if you already have customers and are rebranding your website. In this case, you can email current customers to let them know your brand has changed for the better. You’ll likely already have steady traffic, so they’ll certainly notice when the new website goes live.
- Leverage social media. If you’re creating your first brand, it’s essential to start building traction early on social media to increase brand awareness online. The audience research exercise you conducted earlier should include popular social media platforms your target audience uses. Create, complete and verify business profiles on those platforms. Next, start sharing blog posts via social media to engage with your audience. Start telling your brand story through video, static posts, and links to blog and website content.
- Create a lead magnet. Whether you’re rebranding or launching a new brand, consider creating a lead magnet to help you build an email marketing list. A lead magnet is something of value a customer receives for signing up for your email list. It may be an e-book, checklist or guide to help the subscriber reach a goal. For instance, if you operate a website that sells gardening tools, you could offer a how-to guide called “The Ultimate Guide to a Perfect Garden.” Lead magnets can help you generate sales leads, build traction and become more recognizable on social media.
Product packaging is an essential part of your company branding that can evoke moods and inspire customer emotions that you can leverage to increase sales.
Brand image do’s and don’ts
To maximize your brand image’s effectiveness, consider the following guidelines.
Brand image do’s include the following:
- Create a branding guide. A branding guide with your fonts, colors, kerning, tagline, style and tone will make it easier to craft new branded communications quickly. You’ll be able to effortlessly communicate your branding style to any new hires in your marketing department. If you work with a brand-building marketing agency, a branding guide will ensure everyone on your account is on the same page.
- Use consistent branding throughout the organization. Distribute your branding guide throughout your organization so you don’t have one department going rogue and using the wrong logo. Promote your brand internally and externally.
- Carry branding from online to offline. If you have specific branding on your website and social accounts, you should have the same branding in your office decor and printed materials.
- Use emotion and data to define your brand. Both facts and emotions are crucial in making a sale. The emotional part of branding is arguably the most important, but you should also provide concrete reasons why your product or service is the best choice for consumers.
- Focus on your core values. What is important to you as a company (other than making money)? These values should be integral to your branding. Make sure they show up on your About page, in marketing copy and even in your tagline. This messaging lets customers know what to expect from you and attracts prospects with similar values and needs.
Brand image don’ts include the following:
- Don’t make your logo huge. A big logo looks tacky. Around 50 pixels by 50 pixels is a good size for the logo on your website.
- Don’t jump on every bandwagon. Just because your competitors are doing something doesn’t mean you must follow suit. If a promotion or social media comment doesn’t align with your brand, don’t do it. Branding is about maintaining a consistent public-facing image; if you’re just following the crowd, you dilute your brand.
- Don’t make false promises. Branding is essentially a collection of promises about your company. If you make false promises to customers, your brand may suffer irreparable damage.
- Don’t create poor-quality content. A strong content strategy with meaningful and relevant content can pay huge dividends. However, poor content will alienate potential customers. Content is a substantive way to show potential customers that you care about them and want to help and educate them; doing less gives the opposite message. Don’t skimp on your content strategy.
- Don’t expect instant results. Branding takes time. Prospects must see your branding multiple times before it starts to sink in. The more you engage with them, the more quickly you can build your brand. However, brand building is still a process.
Many consumers will choose a sustainable brand over a competitor that’s otherwise equal. Consider giving your company an advantage by incorporating your sustainable business model into your branding.
Your brand image reflects your business goals
Everyone has a different brand image, just as people have different personalities. Business owners must create valuable and creative brands that offer solutions to genuine problems that customers face. It takes time to master the process of creating a brand image and building a brand community, but the results are worth it.
Consider the companies that inspire you, and think about traits you can emulate. Business brands are built on goals, compiled research and audience presentation. With a little help from a good designer, you can build a strong and unique brand identity based on your niche, values and target audience.
Thomas Griffin contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.