There’s a lot that goes into building your brand. Strategy, research, design–all of it is important. So where do you begin? I believe the best place to start when branding (or re-branding) a business is with five fundamental questions. The answers to these questions form the backbone of your brand. They’ll support you through every decision you make as you move forward in the branding process, including how to design your logo and what kind of language to use in your messaging.
Think carefully as you answer these questions. Wishy-washy or half-hearted answers could lead to issues down the line as you continue to build out your brand. That’s not to say that your brand can’t evolve over time, as it likely will. But the more clarity you can instill in your brand upfront, the more smoothly the rest of the process will flow. Let’s dive in!
1. What’s my purpose?
Another way of asking this question is, “what’s my why“? We all have a “why” that led us to start our own business. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have done it! For some of us, it’s the desire for freedom–to be our own bosses and live life on our own terms. If you’re nodding your head right now, I’m right there with you, but I’d like to invite you to dig a little deeper. What’s the main driving force behind the brand that you’re building? Why does your brand have to exist?
Understanding your purpose feeds clarity and focus. Allow it to guide you as you make important decisions when building your brand, such as where and how to show up, and what to say.
2. What are my values?
We all have values that shape how we think, feel, and behave. Which of your values are embedded in your brand? And how can you create a brand identity that’s in alignment with them? The more aligned you are with your values, the greater your energy and output. By embodying your brand values when you are building your brand, you’ll attract peers and clients who share those same core beliefs. Hello, dream clients and collaborations! On the flip side, having clarity around your values also helps you avoid engaging with other brands and individuals that aren’t in alignment with your brand. You’ll thank yourself for this one down the road.
3. Who does my brand serve?
Now that you’re clear on your purpose and values, let’s get to know your ideal customer. The first step is to acknowledge that not everyone will resonate with your brand. And that’s okay! The more you focus on your ideal customer, the better your results. A helpful exercise for this step is to create an ideal client avatar. Below are some traits and demographics to consider defining:
- Marital/family status
- Pain points
Feel free to add any traits to this list that are useful in the context of your industry. Once you know your ideal customer inside and out, you can create visuals and messaging that truly resonate with her. Showing that you understand and relate to your customers builds trust, which is key to building your brand and making it sustainable.
4. What specific problem(s) does my brand solve?
Every brand is in the business of solving problems and that’s what you have to think about when you’re building your brand. Now that you know who your ideal customers are, you should also have an understanding of their pain points, or problems. These problems are the focal point of your offers. In other words, every offer you create should relieve one (or more) of your customer’s pain points. But it’s not enough to just solve problems–you need to show and tell your customers how you solve their problems. Highlight the transformation your customers experience when they engage with your brand. Use testimonials as social proof and actually lay out the steps involved in your process. Don’t assume potential customers will know that you can help them if you don’t explicitly tell them.
5. What makes my brand unique?
Let’s be real. There’s a lot of competition out there in the online business world. But you needn’t worry too much about your competition if you have a clear value proposition, AKA a unique selling proposition (USP). Every person on this planet is unique in some way. The same is true for brands (unless you literally copy and paste someone’s brand identity, which I don’t recommend!) It may not seem, however, like there are a lot of unique brands out there, and the reason is that not everyone knows how to capitalize on their USP. A clear and strong USP will place your brand head and shoulders above the sea of competition.
I hope you’re taking notes as you answer each of these questions. Writing down your answers will help to solidify them and create a clear path forward. Once you feel good about your answers, you can move on to the next step of assembling the building blocks of your brand identity, including visuals and messaging. Whether you choose to DIY your brand or hire an expert, always come back to these five fundamental questions. Is the brand you’re creating in alignment with your purpose and values? Will it resonate with your ideal customer? If the answers are “yes,” you’re on the right track to building your brand.