You can advertise your business, share your business, talk about your business, and still not build your brand. The first thing to understand about branding: Branding is your identifier. Your brand is your distinct characterization; what makes YOU, you. You could sell the same exact product as someone else (such as in direct sales), but build your brand in a different way.
Let’s take a look at Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Snooki became popular from the MTV reality show Jersey Shore from 2009-2012. She built her brand around being a party girl with a few distinguishing characteristics such as: drinking pickle juice, only dating “guidos” (a colloquial term denoted for Italian-American men who are particularly interested in their physical appearance), getting absurdly inebriated, whining, styling her hair in a “pouf,” and playing to the ignorant female stereotype. This was her hook. This became her brand. She created an entire style trend around her demeanor.
Fast forward to 2017, Snooki no longer wants to be “Snooki,” she wants to be “Nicole,” and finds herself on Celebrity Apprentice with Arnold Shwarzenneger. She tries incredibly hard to define herself as a businesswoman, but is simply not taken seriously by any of her counterparts – why? Because she has already built such a strong brand around being the party girl.
Now, we may not all want our businesses to emulate Snooki’s, nonetheless, there is no denying the brilliance to the strategy denoted. She took this type and made it hers, and more so, she made other girls want to be like her during the time that it was trending. The problem with her branding – there was no foresight for how to make it everlasting.
The Key Points to Think About as You Brand
When building your brand strategy, you have to think about longevity. What is your eternal message? How do you want your business to be remembered for years to come? What are the main ideas from the strategies in your marketing?
After You Have Your Message, How Do You Begin Branding?
- Start with a tone. How do you want your brand voice to sound? Is it formal, or friendly? Maybe even sarcastic, or whimsical? It could be polished and professional, or low-key. Consider all the factors of your target audience before thinking about your tone to ensure they match. For example, if you make kids products, you wouldn’t want a formal and professional tone. All of your marketing should have a matching tone. Use this list of tone words to get you started.
- Hire a graphic artist to design the perfect logo. Your logo is your number one most important part of your branding and must match your tone. Your logo is the equivalent of your face – it’s the first thing that everyone sees and judges your company by. Your logo must be distinct, clear, and easy to manipulate. You absolutely need to hire a real graphic designer to create one for you to ensure you’re not infringing on any trademarks and that you’re receiving a discernable, fresh product. A great place to start is 99Designs.
- After you have established a tone and logo, establish a lifestyle. A lifestyle will distinguish your premise, especially if your branding is circled around certain issues. Lifestyle branding is important because you’re creating an entire image around who and what your customers are, or who and what your customers aspire to be. This can be centered around so many ideas from serenity to empowerment, to charity, to even our earlier example – a party girl. Lifestyle IS your entire image.
- Create a matching color scheme. The right color combination is key to distinguishing your brand’s mood and atmosphere as each color holds symbolic significance. For example, purple is known to be regal, majestic, soothing, and feminine, as such, purple is used by many beauty brands. Buffer Social has a great post on which colors to use for your marketing strategies. Use your color scheme throughout all of your marketing materials.
- Create matching graphics and fonts across all of your social media platforms. Your graphics and fonts should create the same effect and essence that your lifestyle is meaning to present. For example, would you expect to read Shakespeare in Comic Sans font? Probably not. A simple program to use is Canva. Canva will actually allow you to create a whole branding package by programming your chosen colors and fonts.
The way you present your branding is key to the life of your business. You want your customers both to imagine themselves as part of your brand and as though they cannot live without it. You have to create an entire world, a lifestyle, that surrounds the ideas you’re trying to present, but be sure that those ideas are transcendental. The ideologies and philosophies of your brand need to be everlasting, but also fluid enough to evolve with the times. Think over the course of the next 12 months, three years, five years, and beyond, if the ideologies are not thematic and timeless, then the branding will not stick with people. Be mindful of what timeless ideas you’re presenting, as well. Like the example I presented earlier, Snooki was young and maybe unaware of the brand she was creating, and while it was powerful and trendy, it became trashy and ruthless.
Choose your branding wisely.