Building a brand is one of the biggest and most important you will encounter in getting your business up and running. Starting out on your own is tough, and for the majority of us, we know very little about branding. It is important to work out some things before you get to work on creating your website or marketing. Without clear direction, your brand can feel very watery and you will almost certainly lose potential customers as a result. Here are a few pointers to help guide you in the right direction:
Start with Why
One of the single most important things you can do when thinking about creating or revamping your brand is to go right back to the beginning. Effective branding communicates on an emotional level, as opposed to a simply technical one. You cannot communicate on an emotional level purely by describing what it is that you do, this must be done by explaining WHY you do it.
Simon Sinek encourages businesses to 'Start with Why', to shift the focus of their brand identity and their marketing. According to Sinek, 'people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it'. This shift in focus has a huge impact on brand perception and brand loyalty. Loyalty comes from emotional connection, and the best businesses use it as their solid foundation. When you communicate from the inside out, you are appealing to people's gut instincts. If you don't know why you do what you do, neither will your customer, so you will be fighting an uphill battle.
For example, at Deha Visuals, the difference would be between: “we take pictures and make websites for wellness businesses” and “we have seen first hand the huge impact of inner work on mental wellbeing. We want to work with wellness businesses to help them to impact others by getting their message out there into the world”.
Live for the Movement state that: “all of our classes go beyond just 'a bunch of moves'. What inspires us is what we see people achieve when they go through our programmes. Our karate classes aren't about fighting, they are about building children’s confidence, coordination, intelligence, dreams and so much more. We want them to go through life feeling that they can achieve anything, and encourage them to reach for whatever it is they want to do.”
Spend some time reflecting on the 'why' behind your own vision and try to incorporate this into your branding. You may wish to use elements in your vision and mission statements, your about section or discuss it in some of the video content you create. Whatever it is, use this why as a theme which you can keep coming back to.
Who is your ideal client? What makes them tick? What words are on their mind? What problems do they have?
To really get a sense of what kind of a brand you are trying to create, you need to know something about your ideal client. Every venture looks to solve a problem – if you are not solving a problem, your business will be a dead end. Take a while to sit and work out the key people you are looking to serve.
See how much of a customer profile you can create. Think about: their age group, gender, occupation, what interests they have, where they spend their time. You will also want to think about the problem(s) they are experiencing and the questions on their mind about these problems. The words that you come up with here should be key to your marketing. You can then use all of this information to direct your branding and work out where your efforts are best spent in marketing.
What are your aspirations?
Do you have certain aspirations for further down the line? It is worth sitting down and thinking about what you want for the future from time to time. You may know that you want to be the most well known yoga teacher in the UK, but your name does not feature in your brand. This means that your name is not being circulated, and could be standing between you and your dreams. On the other hand, you may be teaching under your own name, but your aspirations is to be able to hire other teachers to teach for you on a regular basis. In this case, working under your own name may prove to be limiting.
Sit down with yourself (and perhaps a good friend or family member) and get really honest with yourself about what you would like to achieve in the future. You can use this as a tool to guide you through your decisions. If you are stuck on which way to go, look at which path better serves you in reaching these goals.
What message do you want to be sending out there?
Think about the kind of message that you want to be putting out into the world. Your brand should reflect your values, passions and strengths, as well as elements that will resonate with your ideal client. A fun and vibrant brand may work well for a personal trainer whose ideal client is the 25-35 year old party animal who wants to get fit as quickly as possible, but will not work entice the right clients for a meditation teacher who wants to provide a safe space for new mums to feel balanced and nurtured. Your brand should resonate with you (it is, after all, your baby) and also with your ideal client (otherwise you would have no business).