In today’s digital world, consumers are navigating up to ten thousand ads every day. Brands are how consumers decide where to pay attention – they help us make decisions about what products we buy, the restaurants we eat at and where we go on vacation. For this reason, developing a brand is essential for the health of your business. Building a brand won’t happen overnight, but by pursuing the following eight steps, you can create a brand that will help your business stand out and put you on the right path to sharing your story with the world.
1. Answer 3 Questions
Creating a brand should begin by asking yourself three questions about your business:
- Who are we?
- What do we do?
- What do we believe?
These questions provide clarity and help you to focus on what it is you want to talk about. Once you’ve determined your answers to these three questions, you’re ready to take the branding process a step further.
2. Personify Your Company
A fun way to create your brand is to personify your company. There are two approaches you can take. The first is to pick a celebrity. Are you hip and current? Maybe your brand is Bruno Mars. Or, if you’re in a rural part of the country, maybe your brand is Miranda Lambert. The second approach is to answer a series of questions about the type of person your business would be, such as: What’s your age? What car do you drive? What’s your house look like? In doing this, you’ll create a person who represents your business.
3. Ask for Input
Getting an outside perspective on how your employees or customers see your business is a great way to refine your brand identity. At this stage, asking for input also enables you to make sure that your notions of the business align with how others perceive you. You’ll know right away if any branding you’ve done thus far has resonated or if you have a lot of work to do in better communicating your message.
4. Consider Mission, Vision & Values
If you have mission, vision, and values, jot them down. Never been through this process? Start with a blank piece of paper. An example of a mission statement is: Our mission is to provide comfort to all through the products we sell and by serving people in our community. As for vision, this relates to where you see your company going. For example: In five years, we will be the number one seller of mattresses in our market. Lastly, values are what you stand for. Examples: Integrity. Honesty. Creativity. Service.
5. Define Culture
Evaluating your culture is critical to defining your brand. To identify your culture, talk to management, employees, and customers to understand how they view the business and the current state of your culture. Another option is to conduct surveys among your employees and customers. Gathering anonymous feedback online can make respondents feel safer, making it more likely they’ll be candid. An important thing to remember while collecting feedback is to listen. Fight any urge to become defensive or disagree. Hearing the views of others is essential to defining your culture in an authentic and honest way.
6. Identity Your Position
A strong brand position is the first step to differentiating your business. Begin by asking yourself, in what category can you be first or best? Answering this question will require that you evaluate the competitive landscape. You’ll need to consider where your strengths and shortcomings are compared to your competitors. What can you offer that others can’t? Is there an opportunity for you to create the first of something new or to be the best at something that already exists?
7. Create Brand Pillars
Once you’ve identified your position, you’re ready to create your brand pillars. Think of your brand pillars as the fundamentals of how you want to conduct your business or how you wish to make decisions. Defining your pillars allows you to align your team around ideals that tell you where to go and sometimes what to do. You won’t have to fight to figure out if a merchandising decision or advertising piece fits. Filter those ideas through your brand pillars and you’ll often get easy answers to questions causing you to stall out.
8. Bring It to Life
Once you’ve completed the previous steps, you’re ready for the final stage: bringing the brand forward. All the deep work you just did is designed to bring your brand to life in its messaging and visuals. This process will enable you to create cohesive brand messaging and imagery. Your store and your website will hold hands. Your marketing materials will look like they belong with your website, and your social channels will have a voice that fits your culture. Done properly, these things all work together to form an identity that deepens your connection to consumers.
This article was adapted from the book, “Come Back to bed,” written by Mark Quinn and Mark Kinsley.