How to Build a Brand: 10 Simple Steps Your Competitors Probably Skipped
BY: RYAN DANIEL MORAN ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 01, 2019
Trying to figure out how to build a brand from scratch? Then you’ve already got an advantage over your product-centered competitors.
If you’re just now looking at building a business of your own in 2019, it might look like all the good ideas are gone and the competition too stiff… so why bother?
Come a little closer and we’ll let you in on a secret:
You can win this game if you play it smart and learn how to build a brand from the start.
See, your competitors never really considered this. It seemed like an unnecessary speed bump along the e-commerce path to cash.
They heard e-commerce was easy. So, they went on Alibaba and found something kinda cool to sell. They threw it up on Amazon, made some sales, and the revenue was sweet. They went back for seconds – maybe even thirds.
Someone else started selling that same product under a different label. For less. The steady stream of sales slowed to a trickle, then nothing more than a wistful memory. Your competitor’s dream of making great money from anywhere in the world comes to a screeching halt. Unless they can recreate that magical lightning strike of success, it’s going to be time to look for a job.
That’s them, though. Not you.
You’re here, learning how to start a business the right way – even if you’re starting from scratch. We’ve had the pleasure of watching hundreds and hundreds of folks go from zero to $1 million or more in annual revenue following exactly the same path you’re on right now.
“Brand building” is way more than a nice alliteration. It’s how you attract and serve long-term, loyal, stellar-review-leaving crowds of customers – and get handsomely rewarded in the process.
It’s not like we invented this whole distinction between selling stuff and building a brand.
In fact, there’s a strong link between successful companies and powerful branding, and that’s no coincidence. Whether you’re hoping to launch a small business or you own a sprawling enterprise, branding is an essential if you hope to enjoy sustained success moving forward. Building your brand can increase your sales, boost exposure, and promote trust among both current and potential customers.
A well-built brand is much more than just a logo or a catchy slogan – although those can and should be a part of the equation. Your branding should be connected to the very heart of your business, to the point where your customers get just a little happier every time they think of you.
Right now, you might be nothing but an upstart trailing in the distance in your competitors’ rearview mirror. They’re about to get a wake-up call as they watch you shoot past them and take the lead as you complete these ten steps. You ready?
Brand Building Step #1: Look in the mirror.
“Know thyself” is some great advice here. Building a business with a brand you love doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a level of self-awareness to carve what you want out of a shapeless piece of rock with the potential to become anything. That’s true whether you’re building a service-based business or launching a physical product business.
·What matters most to you in life?
·What kinds of problems seem to stump others while to you, they’re child’s play to solve?
·Where do your interests lie?
·How would you describe your values?
·What niche so resonates with you that you could wake up excited to work every day?
One of the best perks of building your own business is that you get to choose the people you serve, the problems you solve, and the products you sell instead of working within a boss’ preferences. Getting a super-clear picture of what you want makes it that much easier to create it.
Having that clarity about what matters most to you also makes the hundreds of decisions awaiting you simpler to tackle. Rather than standing, stuck, in the middle of the many crossroads ahead, your work in this step will give you a compass to use.
Even more importantly, by building a company brand that meshes beautifully with your personal brand you can grow a business that’s a source of pride and pleasure… not just an ATM you handcuff yourself to in exchange for periodic withdrawals.
Brand Building Step #2: Stalk your audience. (But not in a creepy way.)
Knowing yourself helps you create a brand YOU love. Getting to know your audience helps you create a brand THEY love, too.
If you’re picturing running an e-commerce empire while hiding behind a computer screen, stop. Even though you might not flip an “Open” sign on your door to let the morning’s customers in like in a brick and mortar shop, you’re still in the business of people. Might as well choose who you’ll serve – and who you’ll leave to your competitors.
This will take some research and interaction. You can learn a lot more, a lot more quickly, by having some quality conversations with real people in the world of the brand you’re creating. The better your interactions with them, the easier it gets to see where there are gaps that you can fill and challenges you can solve.
Social media makes this research process easier than it’s ever been. You can refine and narrow your audience as you get to know them better. You’ll want to do enough research to understand your audience’s demographics… but their psychographics are just as important.
·Join groups where they hang out to discuss what they have in common.
·Keep notes on what you learn about what they like and hate.
·Pay particular attention to what problems they wish “someone” would solve.
·How do they talk about this niche? Is it different from how “outsiders” would discuss it?
·What themes do you see popping up over and over?
·What kinds of discussions get them riled up? What makes them practically melt with happiness?
·Who do they celebrate or vilify?
·Do you notice any “stages” among your audience – beginner, advanced, expert? What differentiates them?
The research task never really ends, but you can get the start of a vivid picture rather quickly. Use what you learn to create and refine a vision of your ideal customer. Look for ways you can fall in love with them. This process will shed further light on how you can establish a brand that adds value – even joy – to their lives.
The more lucid your vision of your audience, the easier it will be to build a brand that embodies the values you have in common. As you flesh that vision out, you’ll find your brand starts to take shape as a full-fledged entity of its own.
Doing this research will allow you to better connect with your target audience and differentiate yourself from the competition. Emotional connections between a brand and a buyer can translate to bigger sales and improved long-term loyalty.
Brand Building Step #3: Synthesize it all into a statement.
Finding your focus and working from there will allow it to impact the other aspects of your brand. This gives you the ability to build with consistency, where a strong starting point can be ironing out a positioning statement. This is essentially one or two sentences that serve to identify your place in the market and “stake your claim.”
This isn’t a slogan – something you’d put on your business cards. Your positioning statement is a resource for your own use. It helps you identify the questions you should be answering about your brand, as well as the right answers to those questions.
Your positioning statement can serve as a guide post for you moving forward, but only if you construct it with the proper pieces in place. It should clarify what kinds of solutions you’re offering, who you’re serving, and why they’re far better off doing business with you than anyone else on the planet.
This statement will form the core of your unique selling proposition (USP), which will evolve from here. In a competitive marketplace, the best companies are those that understand what their customers need and want, and how they want to get it.
Brand Building Step #4: Take a brand selfie.
People connect with people, and customers seldom forge emotional bonds with faceless corporations. Even though your brand isn’t literally a human being, you’ll find it helpful to think of it that way.
·What kind of person would it be?
·What personality would it have?
·What type of person would your customers resonate with?
Start listing adjectives that could describe your brand as you see it. They should apply, not only to the products and services you’re providing, but also to your company as a whole.
As you carve your brand’s personality out of what you’ve learned and what you value, you’ll also create a set of branding guidelines at the same time. When you sit down to create content or marketing messages, now you’ll have a head start rather than pulling words out of the void.
The work you do to personify your brand will show up on your company’s website and social media presence. It’ll come through in the words you use and the images you choose. Having a consistent sense of “self” for your business gives you a handy reference tool you can use in your marketing, fulfillment, and customer care.
Brand Building Step #5: Drop a pin in the marketplace.
Although you’ve likely already done some cursory research on your competition, the more you know about the current market, the better. This means developing an accurate picture of your competitors and prospective customer-base. These insights will help you make more informed decisions regarding your brand, but you’ll need to be willing to do additional research to make it happen.
Conduct Google (or Bing, if you’re a rebel) searches to see which competitors show up. In this instance that could mean companies that are directly in your space, as well as others that might be more of an indirect competitor. When you’re studying up on customers, pay attention to what they buy and why – and what they liked or didn’t like about what they bought.
Again, the more you can understand about your audience’s buying decisions, the better. If this means perusing message boards and “listening in” on conversations between customers in your space, so be it. Don’t feel weird about forum lurking – the important thing is to build up profiles for ideal customer targets. Identify the easiest sells in your space, and make sure you know who your chief competition is.
Brand Building Step #6: Name your baby.
Your brand is much more than just its name. If anything, your company’s name will produce responses in people based on other factors, like your marketing outreach and reputation. At the same time, your name affects too many aspects of your operation to be taken lightly. It can impact your website, social media pages, logos, trademarks, newsletters, labels, packaging, and more. So how do you ensure that you choose the best possible name?
First, you’ll want to start with names that would be difficult to imitate. They would also need to be unique enough that potential customers wouldn’t get them confused with a competitor. Beyond that, your name should also take all your future plans into account. If you intend to expand your product offerings later on, a broader name that doesn’t apply to one specific line of services is a good idea. Names that don’t offer much flexibility will be more difficult to change later on.
If you’re at a loss for a name, the following methods could help you come up with something:
·Make up a new word entirely
·Repurpose an unrelated term
·Use a metaphor based on something related to the business
·Use a literal description
·Abbreviate a longer name
·Combine multiple related words
·Alter a word or phrase by removing or adding characters
You should also look around online at domain names to make sure your brand name is still available for your website. Having a domain that is identical to your chosen name is a valuable asset when it comes to establishing your authority and trustworthiness.
Brand Building Step #7: Choose your brand colors.
Colors and fonts might not have been at the top of your priority list when you set out to start your business, but these elements can carry heavy implications for your brand. Although colors do help define your brand’s overall appearance, they also serve to help you convey the emotions and feelings you wish to get across to consumers.
Choosing colors that stand out from your direct competition will keep buyers from getting confused. And although it isn’t an exact science, there have been studies that show a connection between colors and certain emotional responses. The exact pairings will depend on your source, but they include red being connected to passion or excitement, and yellow linked to optimism or cheerfulness.
You can consider these responses and pinpoint the ideal combination for your brand, but there’s also the need to think about overall presentation. The colors will need to work well together, without clashing, while remaining legible on the backgrounds you have in mind. The last thing you want is to have visitors to your website experiencing migraines and nausea from trying to read your text!
Brand Building Step #8: Get a great logo.
Whoa, your logo’s all the way down in step #8? Yes.
For most new business owners, getting a logo’s the first task they tackle. Makes sense, because it’s one of the most fun steps – and it’s one that has a visible result. Who hasn’t spent hours gazing fondly at their brand new logo? Totally normal.
Your logo is the face of your company, a visible representation of the brand everywhere it shows up. Make sure that it’s unique and easily identifiable, while still remaining adaptable for different formats and sizes.
Make a list of all the platforms where your brand logo will be viewed. This includes your company website, social media, product labels, and marketing materials. You’ll want your logo to be easily viewed, no matter where it is, which could mean creating unique versions of the image to use in different places.
Types of logo designs you may consider include:
You can also combine more than one type to use in different scenarios. For instance, an emblem and letter mark might work for your website, but on a Twitter post the text would be too small to be legible. In that case, sticking to the emblem alone makes sense.
Unless you’re a graphic design pro, it’s best to hire this task out. Share your vision, your ideas, and your style preferences with your designer. You can even mock up a basic version of the logo you’re picturing and have them make it pretty. You can spend as little as $5 or so on Fiverr.com all the way up to hundreds for a great logo. Buy the best you can afford now and upgrade later if that makes sense.
Brand Building Step #9: Create a strong slogan.
Now that you’ve got yourself a fancy new logo concept, you’ll need a slogan to go along with it. The ideal slogan for your brand will be catchy and concise, something that can grab someone’s attention while still conveying your company’s purpose. A brief – but still descriptive – line can be a valuable asset, as you could use it on websites, Twitter accounts, business cards, and anywhere else that offers the chance to feature your brand. If done the right way, your slogan offers a self-sustained way to make a good first impression on new prospects.
Some viable approaches to slogan crafting you might consider include:
·Metaphors (like Skittles, “taste the rainbow”)
·Claim staking (“The best on the market”
·Literal descriptions (“A natural alternative solution for this problem”)
·Resonate with customer personality (like Franks Red Hot, “I put that $&@% on everything”)
Regardless of the specific type of slogan you choose to go with, remember, it’s not carved in stone. You can update your slogan in the future based on your marketing efforts, so don’t be afraid to make a choice and move forward without agonizing overlong on it. You can always adjust later if the need arises.
Brand Building Step #10: Communicate with customers the right way.
With every interaction, your goal is to foster long-term customer relationships… not taking the money and running. Broken promises are a great way to end up with one-and-done sales, but more than that, they defeat the purpose of good branding. You want to stay true to the values that went into your brand.
Here's one more opportunity to really stand out in the marketplace. Whether you handle the messages you put out there – to everyone or just to one customer at a time – or you bring on a team member to do it for you, make sure every word lines up with your brand. The tone, the word choice, the reading level, and especially the personality that comes through in your messages should be consistent.
But Wait… You’re Not Done!
As your business grows, and more customers flock to it, you’ll continue to learn more about them and what drives their behavior. That understanding will help you determine what products to add to your brand later. The more loyal you stay to your customers, and the more you engage them in ways that show you’ve got their best interests at heart, the more loyalty you’ll see in return.
So, don’t stop the conversation with your audience once the sales start coming in. You can always learn more from them about what they want and need. Don’t be afraid to ask for their input. After all, long-term relationships thrive best when there’s two-way communication.
That’s what’s going to separate you from the crowd and keep you from participating in the race to the bottom that keeps many business owners competing on price. Your brand-building efforts will not just help you create a business that you truly enjoy running… that’s also your ticket to long-lasting revenue.
Starting a business can feel like a lonely path, strewn with pitfalls that could leave you clinging for dear life to your job. Or, you can follow a proven path and get support, training, and encouragement every step of the way. That second way? Way more fun and lucrative.
Check out all the resources we’ve created for you here at Capitalism.com – we’re here to help!
Meta: Wondering how to build a brand from scratch in 2019? Here’s the step-by-step guide that’ll put you miles ahead of your competitors, right from the start.