How To Build A Brand From Scratch
By Kenneth Kwok
June 8, 2020
Since the Internet and email came along, there are far more brands launching than ever before. All it takes is a domain name and a website.
Launching a brand without proper preparation and expecting results will have failure knocking on your door.
According to Investopedia, 50% of businesses fail after the first five years. If it only was that easy. Even enterprise businesses with a lot of resources don't get it right.
Have you heard of HipChat before? Chances are, you haven't, but you probably heard of Slack. HipChat is an Atlassian product that launched in 2009. Slack started in 2011, wanting to replace the need for email, and they bought the intellectual rights to HipChat in 2018.
So as a small business owner, how can you succeed? Preparation. Lots of it, to help you create a brand that people love and recognise.
What is a brand?
A quick Google search will show you how many ways there are to define what a brand is. The brand is such a hard idea to nail down—because it's more than just your logo and design.
To us, it's about how customers perceive the brand—from their first impression to their latest interaction with it. How does it make customers feel? Think about your brand's customer service, mission, product packaging, return policies, convenience, and more. This is all part of a brand. As you can tell, there's plenty to consider.
Plus, your brand is a combination of the things your business can control and can't control. Focus on things that you can control, and forget about the things you can't. For example, your shipping policies, customer service, packaging etc.
With so many things to consider, what should you focus on? We recommend that you start from the foundational pieces. Look closely at your mission, target audience, and what problem you intend to solve first before anything.
Creating your brand missions
What does your brand stand for? What is it's why? Simon Sinek's 2010 TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, is still relevant today. In his presentation, he suggests that people don't buy into what you do or how you do it. Instead, people buy why you do it. We highly recommend that you watch his 20-minute presentation.
Why you do things helps inform all your decisions for your brand. Here are some mission statement examples from some famous brands:
"To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions. To create value and make a difference."
Their logo and brand haven't changed for decades, but to this day, is one of the longest standing and successful brands in history.
"Let's make commerce better for everyone".
If you take a look at their platform—you can tell how easy it is for someone to start a business and for someone to purchase a product from a store built on Shopify.
"Our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online."
We don't need to say much more about their success.
These types of mission statements can make the brand outlast their founders—some people call it a 100-year company. None of these mission statements has a time limit, and it helps the brand strive to improve themselves and their products for years to come.
Creating your mission statement first also helps you position your brand. If done right, you can set yourself up for success, but as we mentioned before, it's not a guarantee even if you have plenty of resources at your disposal.
So what are you trying to accomplish for your brand? What are you trying to better for each individual or society as a whole? Think of the long-term impact you want to make. Mission statements change over time—just like your values change as you get older, so don't overthink it.
Defining your target audience
You have your mission statement. You have your reasons why. You plan to better the world with your product or service. But the question is, who do you plan to help and how will you solve their problems? Does it make their life easier?
Your brand should capture your customers' attention quickly. You might be interested in reading about how humans have an 8-second attention span (and since the study, we guess that it's even worse now).
Typically, there are three types of products or services you can offer: utility, expression, or a combination of both.
Utility products help customers do something specific to solve a problem, like a wrench or a screwdriver.
Expression products, as they sound, help customers express themselves and their values. The best example is wristbands with inspirational quotes printed on them. They don't offer much utility, but they are very expressive.
The combination, for example, can be something like a stylish raincoat. Expressive yet functional.
With these ideas in mind, you can create personas to help you create a compelling brand and marketing strategies and customer experiences.
Personas in marketing are semi-fictional people that you create based on your understanding and in-depth research and data of your ideal customers.
Think about their demographics, behaviours, buying patterns, desires, and goals. For example, one of your personas might be:
A mom of one or two kids in Vancouver
Between 35-50 years old
Into yoga and pilates
Has disposable income
Has a fitness routine every week
Shops at Lululemon in Vancouver every few months
Wants to tone her body for the summer
Uses Instagram to share stories of her kids
The more details you have, the better. It'll help you understand why, where, when, and how to market your brand to your ideal customers.
The benefits of personas include but are not limited to:
Getting an understanding of your target audience's needs and desires
Knowing where they hang out both online and offline/li>
Understanding their personality and demographics
Creating a better product or service
All of them are short and sweet, and they encompass a certain positive feeling, motivation, and desire. Good taglines differentiate your brand from others, and they're memorable and have an implied benefit.
Your brand values
Next, we recommend that you find 3-5 positive adjectives to describe your brand.
We created a list of adjectives you can download and use to get started.
Having these adjectives helps you provide direction for your logo, marketing, and web design and development.
Your brand colours
Based on the adjective exercise above, you can start to choose your brand's colours.
They play a key role in your logo and brand. Each colour gives your customers an innate feeling about your business. We won't dive into too much detail here, but this image below should speak for itself.
Your brand logo
Last but not least, we want to end this blog post talking about your logo.
A great logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, and easily recognisable. Combine your positive adjectives with your distinct colours to create your logo.
Like we mentioned earlier, your logo is not your brand. Although it should accurately depict what your business sells, your logo becomes more recognisable over time from repeat exposure. What's more important is how they experience your brand. Is it good or bad? This is what will be associated with your logo when they see it.
If you have trouble coming up with some ideas for logos, draw inspiration from the following websites:
Dribbble (our personal favourite)
Need help creating and launching your new brand? Come talk to us here at Actualize8, and our team of branding experts will help you get started on the right foot.