Your Branding Checklist

So you’ve come up with a great idea for a business, all of your friends love the idea. They’ve all advised you just to get a website up and you’ll be on your way. But if you did that, you’d be missing some critical steps that would help you build a solid foundation for your business.

Branding is the key to giving your company an advantage over your competition. It’s what makes your business unique and memorable to your target audience. Branding guides the creation of your marketing collateral, logo design, and social media posts. It may take some time upfront, but it’s an investment that will continue to reap benefits while your small business grows over time.

Here are 9 steps to help you with the branding for your small business.

1 Establish your brand vision.

Your brand vision answers the question, “Why are you starting this business?” Your vision is what your brand hopes to achieve as a company. It encompasses your top goals and priorities. You probably already have a vision in your mind - you can picture it. But you need to take that one step further and write it down. Writing it forces you to make that vision crystal clear and that will form the core of all the rest of your branding efforts. The more simple and clear, the better.

2 Know your product or service well.

It may seem obvious, but you need to be able to state clearly and concisely, what your product is and what it will do for someone who purchases your product or service. Sometimes, this turns out to be more challenging than you would suspect as there is a temptation to try to offer everything so you can appeal to more people. Try to have a laser-like focus on your offering.

3 Clarify who your ideal client is.

Now that you’re clear on your product, who’s going to buy it? Who should care about your product and why? How will it help them? These are the people you want to connect with, so you have to understand their problems, needs, and desires. When you know their pain points, you can solve their problems.

4 Check out the competition.

If your competition has a physical store, visit the store. Visit their websites and view some of their social media posts. Look at the way they talk about their products. Do they use specific phrases? View ratings and comments from customers on sites such as Google and Yelp. Glassdoor will give you a feel for how the employees view the company.

Not sure who your competition is? Try doing a Google search with the keywords that you think people would use to find your company.

5 Create a brand positioning platform.

Brand positioning is creating a particular image of your brand in the minds of your target audience. It’s how you want people in your niche to view you. Your brand platform should include:

• Your brand value proposition - this is a description of the value your customers derive from using your
product/service (examples include best quality, luxury products, best value, etc).

• A look at how your business sits in the competitive landscape - Your strengths (what makes you stand out from your competitors) and your weaknesses.

• Who your target audience is - who needs your product to solve their problem.

• Your brand vision & brand promise - Your brand promise is the single largest value proposition that your brand delivers.

• Pick a name

An entire post can be dedicated to deciding on a name, but here are a few pointers to help out.

1 - Try to pick a name that reflects your brand and its positioning

2 - Avoid hard to spell or hard to pronounce names

3 - Conduct searches online to see if the domain name is taken already

4 - Use a name that conveys what the company does

5 - Don’t pick a limiting name (for example including a specific city or product in the name)

6 - Pick 5-10 names and get feedback from family, friends, and your target audience

7 Write your brand story.

Your brand story is more than just what you tell them. It’s everything taken together: facts, experiences, and perceptions. It’s not only who you are, but it’s also why you do what you do. It’s your core values, your passion, and why it all matters. It’s what makes you a one-of-a-kind business. Your brand story is shared not only with your target audience, but it’s also shared with your business partners, employees, and stakeholders. It helps to build an emotional connection with anyone who experiences your brand.

8 Create your logo.

Once you have a thorough understanding of your brand, you’re ready to give it a visual to represent your business. This is where an experienced designer will be helpful. A skilled designer will be able to unite your brand vision with a style that will best reflect it. A simple and clean logo will ensure that your audience remembers your brand.

9 Finding your brand voice.

Your brand voice is going to guide the communications with your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to pick a “spokesperson” for your business. You will not actually be asking this person to represent your company; however, that person should be someone who demonstrates the feel of your brand. For example, maybe if you want a fun, lighthearted feel, you might choose someone like Ellen Degeneres. How would you use this? When you’re writing posts for your business on social media, you would try to write it in a style as you would imagine Ellen Degeneres would.

Of course, it’s not necessary to stay with only one person if you have multiple market segments. You’d likely talk to a friend differently than you would to your grandmother. So if it’s appropriate, feel free to use multiple “spokespersons”.

Once you have completed all of these steps, you should be crystal clear on your brand. Once you’ve laid this foundation, you’re ready to create your brand guideline and marketing collateral. Your designer will be able to help you with setting up a brand guideline that contains all the specifics of your brand (colors, type, logo specifications, etc).

Need help with branding your business? Contact me and I will help you establish your brand so you can connect with more of your ideal clients.