The most important part of any business is branding. A good brand can sell anything, but bad branding will get you nowhere, so it’s important that you create one that’s memorable.
And branding is not just about how your business looks either. It’s how you interact with employees and clients. It’s your values and your business model. In a word: everything that you do.
Your brand runs through the heart of your operation, and defining it early on will help you immeasurably. In this piece, I’ll run through exactly how you can build a knockout brand for your new business.
Creating a Good Logo
The beginning of any effective brand starts with its logo. Your logo will be the “face” of your brand for years to come, so it’s imperative to take the time to get it right. If you’re not confident designing something yourself, hire a designer to do all the hard work for you. There are plenty of talented people out there who are looking for freelance illustration jobs, so there will be no shortage of talent to choose from.
As for the logo itself, you may opt for a text-based logo, or simply just an image. If you choose a text-based logo, think about purchasing a unique font that you can use across your brand.
For example Print 4 Humans, a Florida-based digital services firm, have chosen a techy-looking font to match their techy business – not to mention using the four colors used in printing (magenta, cyan, yellow and black) throughout their website and marketing.
A simple and effective branding strategy that coneys multiple messages at once. Make choices that reflect your brand and show who you are.
An image-based logo is a great way to go too – the best image logos will be so simple that they can be stamped onto anything. This means having a good illustration – no photos – with minimal colors and shapes.
Don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous with your logo either. There are some great brands with stunning logos that you can be inspired by. For example, Gentlemanly Inc have found a way to stay recognizable while still being able to change up their logo between products:
By switching colors, patterns, and illustrations, they create a dynamic logo that retains a visual conformity while keeping it interesting and product-specific.
Make It Consistent
The best brands are the ones that can translate into different formats and onto different mediums whilst still staying recognizable. New brands often don’t realize how deep this needs to go: it’s not just about names and slogans, but even using the same color palette and RGB values. This may seem superficial, but it is all part of building customer loyalty from the very beginning.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t change in the future, just that you need to present yourself as professional and reliable from the very beginning. When you’re first starting out, you need to make a big, bold statement, and it’s harder to make a positive statement if your brand isn’t consistent.
Create a style guide or brand manifesto that defines what you do and how you do it. Language, tone, color — all should be touched on in your style guide. These guidelines will help inform your branding, as well as keeping everyone on your team consistent in their output.
Go Above and Beyond
The best brands don’t just have the right colors, or use the right tone for social media — they do their best to be the best. If you’re a company specializing in networking, you need to do your best to make sure you you’re good at networking and you are up to date with all the local events. If you run a food-related business, try to hire people who are passionate about food, and reward them from time to time with little treats.
Sometimes being the best brand isn’t all about costs and profits; it’s about reflecting who you want to be seen as in all aspects.
Know Your Customer
Of course, no branding breakdown would be complete with considering your target market. Knowing your customer means knowing how to approach them, and this means market research.
Look at your competitors and see who their customers are. Find them on social media and see how they interact with their audience. What tone of voice do they use? What sort of vocabulary? Seeing how your competitors and their customers engage with each other can give you an insight into how you should position your brand too.
Many businesses see this as copying — it’s not! On the contrary, learning from others, avoiding their mistakes and doing what they do better is a great way to get ahead in business. Don’t try to copy the big brands though. Instead, look at independent businesses to see how they operate, then use similar techniques to define your own USP.
A good place to start is the on the search engine results page (SERP) for your main head term and longtail keywords. If you were selling teas online, you’d be searching for things like “tea subscription boxes”, “buy tea online”, “organic tea brands”, “organic matcha tea”, “best tea delivery” etc. A quick analysis would show you the core brand messaging of your niche. Make a note of the common words and value propositions that crop up:
- Fast delivery
- Wide selection of teas
- Organic hand-picked tea leaves
- Curated tea boxes
- Gifts for all occasions.
To really go grassroots, why not have a go at spying on small brands for sale on the Exchange marketplace. These are small ecommerce enterprises that have built a solid business from the ground up, so they truly know their customers — and their messaging is likely to be fresh and ‘of the moment’. See what they do right — then do it ten times better yourself!
Brand aren’t static. Even a new brand needs to take stock on a regular basis on how it’s faring. Speak to customers, run surveys, spend time on social media, and have regular updates with teams, stakeholders, and consultants to ensure you’re still on the right track. Setting up a brand monitoring service is a must-have as it allows you to track brand conversations in real-time.
An effective brand isn’t all about looks — it’s about ideas and hard work. Spend time to create a solid brand that customers will lock into, and you’ll have a good foundation to launch your business.
About the Author
Patrick Foster is an ecommerce expert and editor of Ecommerce Tips, a regular blog sharing tips and advice on how to make it in the world of online business. If you’re after informed pieces on everything from industry news to ecommerce basics, head to Twitter@myecommercetips.