Building a memorable brand from the ground up is hard work.
From designing your logo to figuring out your brand voice, there are so many decisions you have to make to define your brand and make it stand out from the crowd.
When starting a brand from scratch, many entrepreneurs and business owners immediately focus on what their brand should LOOK like.
They work on their brand colors, fonts, logos, and other design elements — which is not surprising in the era of Instagram and other visually-driven social media networks.
But the truth is, the first step to building a brand is not investing in fancy design…
…but figuring out how you want your brand to make people FEEL.
Because once you figure out your deeper business mission, everything else — including your visual identity and design — falls into place.
Whether you’re just starting your brand online or want to revamp your business for bigger growth, here’s an extensive guide for creative entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to create an online brand.
Creating a Brand from Scratch: An Entrepreneur Guide
1. Brainstorm Your Long-Term Brand Vision
The very first step you need to take to build a mission-driven brand is to figure out your overarching big vision.
What is your mission? What do you want your brand to be known for? Where do you see your business in 5 years? In 10?
The products or services that you offer will change over time, but this deeper, long-term vision will stay (relatively) the same.
(This is how to turn your business into a brand that clients and customers keep coming back to!)
But the truth is, figuring out your big, long-term brand strategy is easier said than done.
Which is why it’s important to start with getting some of your initial, imperfect thoughts out on a piece of paper (or, if you’re like me, on a Google Doc)…
…and refine them as you work through the next steps of the brand-building process.
2. Dive Deep into Market and Competitor Research
To build your brand online successfully, you need to make sure that it resonates with your target audience.
The purpose of market research is basically to marry what you outlined in your long-term brand vision…
…with what your target market wants and needs from a brand in your industry.
Not sure where to start with market research?
Here are some of my favorite ways to conduct it — even if you haven’t had any business clients or customers yet!
- Browse Reddit threads. Reddit has threads and communities on all kinds of topics…and the best part about this platform is that people are typically very honest, since it’s anonymous.
- Hang out where your target audience hangs out. Do your target clients and customers spend a lot of time on Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn groups? *Infiltrate* the corners of the Internet where your potential clients and customers spend a lot of time and research, research, research.
- Stalk competitor websites. There’s a lot you can learn from websites (and social media!) of other businesses in your industry or niche. A great thing to do is analyze testimonials and/or case studies.
Keeping a running market research folder to continue refining your brand over time is a great way to grow your long-term success.
3. Craft Your Unique Differentiator
What makes your business different from all the other businesses that offer similar services or sell similar products?
Figuring out how to stand out — and emphasizing your unique differentiator in your marketing strategy — is one of the most important steps you can take to build a memorable brand.
Have trouble figuring out what makes your brand unique?
Dive deeper into your brand story.
Other businesses can offer similar services or products as you, but they will never have the same story.
Looking for inspiration?
Take this quiz to find out what kind of a storyteller you are and how you can use storytelling to create a strong brand personality.
4. Solidify Your Brand Messaging
One of the most important things you can do when you’re starting a brand from scratch is create strong brand messaging.
Your brand messaging is HOW you communicate your big vision and unique value proposition to your target audience, from your core brand values to specific words and sentiments you use.
Creating a brand messaging guide for your brand is a great way to establish and solidify these important guidelines.
Here are some things to consider including in your brand messaging guide:
- Mission statement
- Brand values
- Brand story
- Brand voice and tone
- Brand language
…and more! The more in-depth you go, the better.
→ Looking for someone to help you with your messaging and brand copywriting? Slade Copy House offers a brand strategy package to help you build a rock-solid foundation for your business.
5. Design Your Brand’s Visual Identity
Even though we’ve established that your brand runs deeper than just the visuals…
…design IS an important aspect of building a successful brand.
Spend time — or hire a designer — to create your brand’s logo, pick unique colors and fonts, and craft marketing assets like social media graphics and business cards.
Now that you’ve established your long-term vision, unique value proposition, and brand messaging, use design to visually REFLECT and ELEVATE these important foundations.
Here is a non-exclusive list of branding basics you will need to create for your brand:
- Main logo
- Secondary logo
- Mood board
- Signature brand elements and patterns
- Color palette
- Font suite (heading, subheading, body, and emphasis)
- Social media templates
- Miscellaneous marketing materials
Remember that your brand design is about more than JUST being beautiful.
It also needs to have the right amount of strategy to visually develop your brand.
6. Prioritize Consistency
Once you establish your brand foundations, like your brand messaging and visual identity, it’s important to begin consistently executing them.
Make sure that your website, social media, and marketing campaigns are consistently on brand.
If you have a team or work with contractors, make sure to share your brand materials, such as your brand messaging guide and branding mood board, with them so they don’t create or share something that doesn’t resonate with your vision.
That said, prioritizing consistency doesn’t mean that your brand can’t change over time.
As an entrepreneur, you know that you and your business exist in a constant state of evolution.
It’s only natural that your brand identity and strategy will mature over time as you work with more clients and grow your business.
Schedule time every quarter or so to update your brand messaging guide and visual identity guidelines to account for any shifts and changes.
And, when the time comes, a bigger rebrand might be on your agenda!
7. Get Help
Building a brand from scratch is hard (but not impossible!) to do alone.
Sometimes it may feel like you’re too close to your business to see some of its aspects clearly.
Finding the right people to help bring your vision to life is one of the most important parts of being a CEO.
There are a few professionals you can hire to help you build your brand…
…but hiring a copywriter is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
Wondering why you need a copywriter?
Because sometimes you have an exciting vision in your head…
…but have no idea how to turn this vision into a strong message that will resonate with your target audience.
From crafting your mission statement and unique value proposition to writing your website copy, a copywriter on your side will make launching your new brand much easier and even more exciting.
Slade Copy House offers copywriting services that make a difference for brands that do the same. Learn more here!