Branding is so much more than just a logo and a few colours. It embodies the mission, vision and values of your business. In reality, most people who have never done business before and want to start something of their own, make many branding mistakes. The biggest one - not thinking about all the branding elements they should.
What is Branding?
Branding is a complex process of creating the soul and body of your business. It includes 3 main components - The brand, the brand identity and the alignment of the two.
First Steps in Branding
The very first thing you should think about when starting to work on your branding is the mission, vision and values of your venture. That is The Brand. There are numerous questions you should ask yourself to neatly design your brand. The most important question, though, is WHY. Why are you doing what you are doing? How does it make you feel and who do you do it for? This will essentially will give you your mission.
The 'tomorrow' of your business is your vision. Where do you want to be? How does your brand need to look and feel to get you there?
Last but not least, spend time thinking about the core values your brand stands for. They must really mean a lot to you. Those values should always consistently exist in everything your business does.
What is Brand Identity?
The brand identity is what most people think of first, but still miss important elements. Obviously, choosing the right colours to represent your brand and a logo are crucial to the identity. However, you should also think about fonts, a tagline, tone of voice, website design, marketing collateral, staff uniforms, store layout and much more.
Every business, no matter how small, should have a branding policy. Even if you are a solopreneur, who's just starting, go through the process of your brand creation and record it. This will help you a great deal in the future when you start growing and employing staff. Fractured consistency in your brand visualisation, representation or perception will harm its strength and recognition.
Brand recognition is what makes the big players on the market that big.
How do you align The Brand and the Brand Identity?
For many people the last component of branding is very confusing. What do we mean by alignment between the brand and the brand identity? Well, here is where art touches science and creates a masterpiece.
I already explained what The Brand is about - mission, vision, values. Now how do you reflect these through the brand identity?
What is the best colour for a brand that puts customer trust and security at the top of their priorities? Blue.
Would you use cursive or a fancy font if your brand targets specifically men? Most likely no.
If you said innovation is one of your core values as a brand and your website doesn't work well on mobile devices, are you really in line with your values? No.
You are big on customer service but your support line is not working, have no social media manager and your staff is rude to customers. Definitely your Brand is not aligning with the Brand Identity.
Branding is a complicated and multi-facetted process, but once you get into it, it becomes really engaging and the end result is truly fulfilling. As someone who's consulted many businesses at different stages of their development, I would always recommend doing branding with a professional.
Now, note I said doing with, not just hiring someone to create the stuff for you. A designer can help you bring your ideas to life, but you need to come up with those ideas. You need to do your research and dig deeper to form that mission, vision and those values.
Work with a business coach if it looks too complicated for you. They are great at pulling the ideas, motivation and real goals from the deepest corners of your mind and soul.
Cutting cost on branding by doing it yourself or doing it halfway will eventually cost you more in rebranding. So, do it right from the first try.