Everything is about brand these days. Wherever you look, people are talking about your company brand and even your personal brand. But why is a brand so powerful – and how can you establish a brand that people trust?
Your Brand Is More Than A Logo
The first step to creating a solid and recognisable brand is to step back and take a look at your company as a whole.
It’s important to understand that your brand is more than your logo: it encompasses your company ethos, your vision for the future, and your mission in customer service. Your brand influences everything, from how you write your emails to what goes into personalised direct mail letters.
- What is the company vision (how do you want your business to grow?
- What is the company mission (what are you delivering, to whom, and why?)
- Who am I selling to?
- What would my perfect customer be like?
- How formal do I need to be?
- Which industry sector do I best fit into?
- What are my main competitors doing with their branding?
- What are my Unique Selling Points (USPs) to highlight?
Make a document that answers all of these questions, and you’re already halfway to creating a reputable brand that’ll stand the test of time. You need to understand your company before you can represent it with colours, tone, and style of communication!
How To Create Your Brand From Scratch
Once you’ve got a good grounding in the what, why, who, and how of your organisation, it’s time to tie it all in together in a visual concept.
Pick a palette of colours that complement each other, and, if you want, one contrasting colour to make small elements in your designs ‘pop’.
An example could be a couple of earth tones, offset with a navy, or perhaps cream, pastel pink, and a stronger pink for your contrast colour.
When choosing your colours, take a look at your competitors. What is their palette? How effective is it? Are there particular colours in your industry which are used more frequently than others? For example, blue is used in social media software programs such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as it’s been proven to be the most ‘sociable’ colour.
2) Your Company Name
You may already have your company name ready to go – but hold on a minute. Make sure that it doesn’t sound like your competitors, and that it hasn’t already been registered with Companies House.
If you’re a sole entrepreneur, you may want to set up your business in your own name. That’s fine, but think about your future plans: will you always want to be the face of the company? Do you have plans to grow the business and sell it on? What happens if you take on a business partner?
If you plan to always be a sole trader, using your own name can work well – especially if you work on yourself as your own personal brand (more on that later!).
However, if you have other plans for the future of your business, and have already registered your name as your business with Companies House, all is not lost. You can still operate under a trading name – and this is where brands come into their own.
You can have several trading names related to one registered business, which is great for organisations that sell to multiple demographics and have distinctly different commercial offerings. Your trading name becomes your brand, in this case, and your business name is kept for the official paperwork and annual accounts.
For example: your business name could be registered as Joe Black IT. You offer web design services to startups, but also want to develop a membership network for IT professionals.
In this case, you could create two distinct trading names – and brands – to ensure you’re always talking to the right audience, with the right style, in the right way. Your web design service might be JB Design, but your membership service could be something entirely different such as IT Professionals Network. The two names aren’t related to each other, but are connected on a financial and legal level via your registered business name.
3) House Style
How do you want to talk to your customers? What’s the level of conversational tone you need to communicate with your ideal customer?
Consider who your ideal customer would be. Imagine meeting them in person. How would you greet them? If you go for a handshake and a ‘How do you do, Mr Professional’, your tone is going to be formal. If you opt for the high-five and a ‘Hey sup man?’ (side note: please don’t do this), you could be as casual as you fancy in your communications.
Remember: you need to balance your need to speak to a customer on their level, with establishing your authority to a point that they’ll take you seriously. (This is why we recommend avoiding the high-five. At all times).
Your house style determines the tone of everything: from the words you write in every email, to how you answer the phone, to what your website is going to look and feel like, it’s all influenced by your self-determined brand guidelines, which derive from your house style.
Take Yourself Seriously
Once you’ve worked out your brand style, it’s time to get your mission messages out there! When doing this online, remember to ensure your personal social media accounts either truly reflect your brand, or are entirely separate and locked-down in your privacy settings. This is important not only to maintain the strength of your brand, but also your personal reputation in business.
The online stuff – namely a website and your social media accounts – is fairly easy and quick to set up. Your next steps, however, need to be offline.
To make your brand a reality, consider print media. This could be by placing advertisements in local papers for your grand opening, or printing signage to direct people to your new premises. It also needs to include your basic startup stationery set: letterheads, compliment slips, business cards, and often stickers, too.
Make sure that all of these materials include your brand logo and colours, and that there is a consistent message across everything you produce. Having branded items such as letterheads and business cards will really help to bring your brand together, and improve the perception of your potential customers that you take your brand – and your business – seriously.