Step 1: Decide who you are and what you stand for
At your core, your brand really needs to reflect who you are. Insert your own personality into the brand. Insert your own desires, and dreams, and wishes. A brand is just a reflection of you, really, so by focusing on what you want to accomplish and who you are as a person is a great way to build a brand that has a long-lasting impression, and really drives customers through your doors. Paying attention to what you stand for, and what you mean, and what you wish a brand could be, is extremely valuable and very important. So keep that in mind.
Step 2: Research your audience and your competition
You want to make sure that you’re reaching the right people, so you need to define who your audience is. Is your audience older? Are they younger? Are they men? Are they women? Are they college graduates? Whatever that happens to be, you want to make sure that your brand is reflective of what they’re looking for, something that really means something to them. Find out what specific question interests your audience the most (ie “How to make money on shopify?”).
Additionally, you want to see what your competition is doing. Identify what they’re doing right, and then also look at what they’re doing wrong. Is there opportunity for you to come in and shake up the industry a little bit? You can do this with colors, brand name, logo, how you identify yourself, how your brand identifies. You do want to make sure, though, that you’re not just making changes and trying to be different just for the sake of being different. Pay attention to what your consumers want, and pay attention to the people that have been in the industry longer than you have. Chances are they’ve already figured out a couple of reasons as to why they do one thing versus why they do something else. So by identifying and looking into their history, you can avoid some pitfalls that you might otherwise fall into. Really, though, at the end of the day, if you’re able to match what your customers are looking for, and that brand is a reflection of who you are and what you want your brand to speak for, that’s your goal, and that’s what you should aim for.
Step 3: Define your voice
How do you want to speak to your customers, and what should that voice look like? Are you looking at different channels, social channels, digital channels, print media, things like that? Where are your customers going to find you, and when they do, what are you saying to them? Are you a humorous brand? Are you very professional and serious? Do you occasionally make jokes? What do you want to say to them and how do you want that to come across? Once you’ve defined what that voice is, you can ensure that your logo, and your branding, and your color choice, and your website all reflect that. Your message and your voice have to be congruent, and they have to match each other. Additionally, when you’re thinking about where your voice is going to be heard, like we talked about, what channels, whether it’s social media, or it’s print media, or it’s radio, or TV, you want to make sure that your voice will cut through the noise, it’s not just static, not just things that people have heard all the time, and they’ve kinda become numb to it. By focusing in on where your customer is, because you’ve already defined who they are, using the voice that you’ve chosen, and defining your message on those correct channels, you have the best opportunity to make sure that you’re showing up to them when it’s relevant, and when they’re really looking to interact with your brand.
Step 4: Invest in your brand
Now, we’re not just talking financially, but that is a large part of it. If you’re a luxury brand, then you should have a luxury experience. You don’t need to cut corners on your logo designs, or your apparel, or your swag, or your website. Your brand and your brand assets need to match each other. Are you a brand that is really built on trust? Well, then in that case, you need to work very, very hard to earn the trust of your customers, and your brand assets should reflect that. Your website should be professional. Your logo should be professional and well-done. The colors that you choose as a part of this should convey trust. So by matching your brand foundation with your brand assets, you really are able to increase the amount of trust or value that your brand is able to bring to your consumers. This is a part that a lot of people will skip. They try to cut corners, or maybe save a little bit of money, or save some time, by utilizing resources that were created for them in the past, before their brand was even defined. Maybe this is something that you’re cutting corners on a little bit just because of time, or because you don’t have the finances to really create what you want. If that’s the case, you need to revisit what your brand really, truly means. Now, of course there’s opportunities to allow your brand message and your brand definition to kind of emerge over time, but really, if you can spend the time and energy, and invest in your brand in the beginning, you’re able to save a lot of that time, and a lot of money, over the next course of the multiple years that you’re in business. Really investing in your brand is extremely important, because it’s one of the first things that consumers will recognize you for. They’ll recognize your logo. They’ll recognize your brand message. They’ll see your truck. They’ll see employees wearing the shirts, anything like that, so make sure that you’re investing in high quality, and then make sure that, whatever you’re using for your brand, whatever that message is, is reflected in your assets. It’s extremely important to focus on that, because if you miss this step, you’re going to be paying for it down the road. Invest in your brand with your assets and spend time here. It’ll save you money down the road.
Step 5: Think big but act local.
You don’t just need to be a service-based company or a local business in order to do this. This can be e-commerce. This can be global agencies, global businesses, it doesn’t really matter. Think big, act local, for example visit your local thrift store for best dropshipping products inspiration. Get involved in local festivals. Get involved in supporting local non-profits. Sponsor a school sports team, anything like that. There’s obviously a balance between spending a lot of money and getting a tiny logo in the corner of some poster and actually investing in the local community. A dollar turns, on average, six times in a local community, so if you’re going to be there, you need to be involved. You need to be involved from a financial aspect. You need to be involved in the different events that are happening. You just need to be involved in the community, and the community will adopt you as one of your own. Now, it’s a little easier if you or your business have been in this area for a long time. People already may, maybe they know who you are, or they know you as a person, so they’re a little bit more willing to trust you. If you’re new into a community, and you’re just getting started, or you’ve moved your business from one area to another, this becomes a lot more important. If you’re going to be here, you need to be involved in the community. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a service account, a service business, a local business, an e-commerce, or a global industry. It doesn’t really matter. If you’re going to be in the local community, invest in it, and it will pay dividends.
Step 6: Be your brand
Your brand doesn’t stop with a website, or a logo, or the flyers, or newspaper ads, or digital media, or anything like that. Really, the core message of your brand should be you. You’re your biggest brand advocate. The brand better than anybody else, and you lead the charge defining what that brand is going to look like for your business, for your employees, for your customers. You have to live the brand. If you’re a brand built on trust, you need to be an upstanding, trustworthy individual. If you have a brand that’s built on providing great service, then that’s something that you have to live, yourself. This is especially important for local service businesses because your name gets around, and people know who the owner is, especially in smaller communities. It’s extremely important to make sure that that’s the case. But we could look into many, many different examples from large global businesses, where the CEO didn’t reflect the value that the brand was supposed to exude. Really pay attention here. If you cannot live the lifestyle of the brand that you are trying to focus, and grow, and mature, then you need to refocus what your brand really is. Ensuring that your brand is reflective of you, and that you reflect the brand, is a great way to ensure that your message gets across, and it’s lived from the top-down. If you don’t live the lifestyle that your brand is exuding, your employees won’t, and your customers won’t get it, either. And finally, I’ve got a bonus tip for you. Your brand, at its core, is really what customers say about you when you’re not in the room. What are people saying about your brand? Do they agree with your brand message, or do they disagree? That may not be a bad thing. It’s not a bad idea to allow your brand some room to grow, and some room to adapt, over time. If you begin to understand that your customers are expecting something different, or they’re looking for a different service, or a different core tenet of your brand over time, it’s not a bad thing to allow that to happen naturally. Pay attention to what your customers want. Pay attention to the culture that’s being cultivated by your employees. As your brand grows, it’s natural for it to adapt to new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new core tenets. It’s not a bad thing. Keep an eye on it, and it’s a great way to ensure that your brand will grow over time, and be in business for years.