One of the most common misconceptions about branding is that it begins and ends with your logo. Many small business owners create a logo themselves when they’re first starting out and then find themselves wildly frustrated a few years down the line because they feel like their brand is really inconsistent and lacking cohesion.
Maybe you can relate?
This is a common problem for small businesses, especially those who are just starting out or have only been in business a few years. You’re moving 100mph trying to do #allthethings and I’m guessing during all of that you probably didn’t take the time to sit down and plan out your brand strategy. Right? You’re focused solely on making money to keep the lights on and will just figure out your brand’s personality on the fly while you do it.
You’re not alone.
Most small businesses start this way, but it’s the very reason many of them have mismatched branding and inconsistent messaging (which, in turn, leads to an unengaged audience and weak sales).
Your brand is so much more than “just a logo.”
Your brand is the cumulative experience your audience has with your business. It’s the message your business is sending out to your audience influencing them to buy from you or not. It’s the way your audience feels when interacting with your business and it’s the way they describe your business to their friends. The most important parts of a brand are the intangible parts, the parts that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s the result of how your business looks, acts, and sounds. Those are the things that come together to build your brand.
This is exactly why brand strategy is so important but it’s often the most overlooked thing by new business owners. By taking the time at the beginning of your business to outline your brand strategy, you’ll lay a solid framework that you can use as your North Star to keep you on track as you build your brand. Not to mention all the time, money, and headache it will save you in the long run because it will make all your future branding decisions a piece of cake.
People buy from brands they know, like, and trust.
How are you going to communicate your business to your audience in a way that makes them know, like, and trust you? THAT’S your brand strategy.
Establishing your brand strategy at the start of your business gives you a solid foundation to build the rest of your brand on, and lens through which you can make any tough decision you may encounter.
Here at Happyland we have a thorough strategy process with a in-depth discovery phase and deep dive into four different aspects of your business— your brand foundation, your audience, your positioning, and the visual direction for your brand. Knowing what you’re trying to communicate and who you’re trying to communicate it to is half the battle. Once that’s established you can begin to customize your message in a way that engages your audience through your brand voice and visuals. When you have engaging content that is true to your values, visually stunning design that aligns with your message, and everything is tailored to speak directly to your target audience—well, my friend, you have just created the perfect recipe for consistency that your audience will learn to recognize you by. THAT’S exactly how you build your know, like, and trust factor.
A little more complex than a logo, right? Sure, you can grab a cheap logo online somewhere, slap your business name on it, and hit the ground running. But when you try to build your brand on a nothing more than logo that you picked out for no other reason than just because you liked it (not to mention, that has been sold countless other times—possibly even to another business in your same space) and the color purple because it’s your favorite, you’ll only be able to get so far before you realize it’s not enough and you have nothing to build your brand on.
The best part is that it’s not too late. Even if you’ve been in business for a few years, you can still course correct. The sooner you can establish your brand strategy, that sooner you can start saving time and money and begin to build your brand in a constructive way that actually moves the needle and makes you feel proud.
You can carve out a couple of hours in your calendar, grab a notebook, a pencil (I like to write in pencil because I’m less likely to over-think something when I know it’s not set in stone), and answer the following questions:
- What’s your message? (What is the thing your business does that provides value and attracts people?)
- What are your values? (You may value a lot of things, but try to keep this list narrowed down to just five or fewer core values. These are the most important things that you will not waver under any circumstances.)
- Who is your target audience? (Who are they? What drives them? What is their annual income? What are their biggest stressors in life? Where do they shop? What are their values? What social media platforms do they use?)
OR, if you wish someone would just do it all for you, WEGOTCHU. Your brand is the vehicle that can take your business to new and bigger places, and we want to give you the keys. When you hop in with us, you get over a decade of branding expertise and experience at your service. Our strategy sauce mixes design and marketing principles with a little bit of psychology, and bakes up a custom brand for you that’s packed with purpose and oozing intention so you can become the irresistible solution your customers have been searching for.