Your brand is so much more than your logo.
I find myself having to say this often. When it comes to branding, so many business owners think all they need is a logo—and now that there are so many logo generators out there, a pretty logo design is more accessible than ever. But I would argue that if you just go out and get a logo as soon as you’re ready to get your new business out into the world, you’re selling yourself short. In order to make meaningful, long-lasting connections with the customers you want to reach, you need a brand.
A brand is a living, breathing entity that encompasses all of the ways you show up in the world. Put simply, it is who you are.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to run out immediately and spend tens of thousands of dollars on branding. All business owners have their own budgets and constraints to deal with. And even if, for you, that means you’re doing everything yourself for the time being, what I’m about to share will be super useful.
Here is an overview of what I believe to be the three most important aspects of your brand, including some questions to ask yourself to get you started on each one. Focus on establishing or maintaining clarity and consistency in these areas and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Brand Clarity
What is it?
Brand clarity is an overarching sense of clarity and consistency across all of your brand’s points of interaction. That includes in-person, online, print, digital, social media, packaging, etc.—literally anywhere a potential customer could come into contact with your brand. Brand clarity should be your absolute essential starting point—build a strong foundation in this area and all of your other decisions will fall into place so much more easily.
Establishing brand clarity involves a process of introspection—digging deep to uncover the core of who you are. Ask yourself: What are your values? Your purpose? Who are the people you really want to reach? What story do you want to tell?
Why is it important?
- Consistency and clarity will give people more confidence in your brand. If they connect with you, and can trust that you are who you say you are, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. So when people interact with your brand, you want them to instantly know where they are. No matter the platform or place, it should feel like it all collectively belongs to the same person or business.
- It provides the overall foundation for your brand visuals and messaging. The direction these should take will be so much more apparent when you’re starting from a place of clarity.
- It makes all brand-related decision making easier. Rather than flailing around with messaging or visuals every time you need to do a promotion, you’ll have a framework in place to guide those decisions.
2. Brand Identity
What is it?
Your brand identity is the visual and written representation of your brand—what people will see and experience when they interact with you. Ask yourself: How does your brand clarity translate into a system of logos, colors, typography and other graphics that will convey your message to potential customers? What about your tagline, promotional language, and voice? All of these are important considerations when developing your brand.
Why is it important?
Your visuals and messaging will, without a doubt, make an impression. And whether that impression is one that leads to customer loyalty, is tied to how accurately and authentically your brand is represented.
3. Online Presence
What is it?
Online presence encompasses everywhere you show up online. This can include your website, social media profiles, advertisements, articles you write, just to name a few examples. Ask yourself: How are you communicating who your brand is online?
When it comes to your site, online presence refers to so much more than how it looks. Ask yourself: How—and how well—is your message communicated? How easy is it to navigate? What is the load time like? What kind of experience are you providing to your audience?
Why is it important?
We all know that it’s now expected for every business to be accessible, as much as possible, online. No matter what field you are in, people will want to connect with you in that way. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need a website if you’re just starting out. It is perfectly valid to build a following on social media or some other channel first. But no matter where you’re showing up, the most important thing is to ensure you’re doing it with authenticity and integrity, fully aligned with the values and vision you want to represent.
I know all of this can be overwhelming. It’s tough to know exactly where to start when you have so much on your plate. So if you’re not sure where to go next, I have two things to offer you.
Free Guide: Make Your Brand Work for You
I’ve recently put together a few guidelines that I think all businesses should take into consideration as they’re working on brand development. So if you’re interested in diving deeper, check out the guide for more information, plus related action steps to get you started.
In September, I’ll be launching a new collaborative brand development program, called Brand Together. In the program, I’ll lead you through exercises that will cover all of the things I’ve mentioned in this article and more. You’ll develop your brand alongside other entrepreneurs who are in the same boat, so you’ll have the benefit of feedback and interaction from both me and your peers. If you’re intrigued, you can get more into and take advantage of early bird pricing at brandtogether.co. I’m keeping this group intentionally very small, so if you’re interested in signing up, don’t wait.
One Last Thing
Brand first. There is so much information bombarding us right now, as business owners—there’s a never-ending supply of articles and courses about how to grow your list, funnels, marketing, etc. I fully recognize their importance—hey, I have to use them too. But I fully believe that a focus on that type of thing is a futile effort if you don’t have a solid brand in place. Sure, you may be able to get more people to your site. But will they stick around? That’s where your brand comes in. Start there, and the rest will follow.