You Can Build a Brand Identity. Even with Limited Time, Money, and Expertise
Building a brand can feel daunting, tedious, and outside of your skillset. Maybe the entire concept mystifies you. You might struggle with defining the term 'brand,' much less understanding why you need one in the first place.
But, maybe you've looked at your competitors and realized that they have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them appear appealing...perhaps trustworthy? Heart-warming? Professional? Edgy? All those attributes are likely intentional and strategic, and they are the subject of this blog post.
Today I will walk you through the first step of building a consistent brand; defining your brand attributes. (Subsequent blog posts will discuss how to develop a logo, select typefaces (fonts), and how to choose a color palette. I will link them here once they are available.)
A consistent brand builds recognition among your target audience. Recognition builds trust, which translates to loyalty, and, ultimately, to continued and repeated business.
What is a brand?
A brand is essentially a promise to your customer. It’s as if to say, “When you interact with my brand, you’ll feel/experience X, Y and Z."
Starbuck's brand promises “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Coca-Cola promises “To inspire moments of optimism and uplift.”
Whether you’re a company, a nonprofit, or an individual with a business plan, a consistent brand will serve you well. A consistent brand builds recognition among your target audience. Recognition builds trust, which translates to loyalty, and, ultimately, to continued and repeated business.
Without further ado, let's build your brand.
Step 1: Define Your Brand Attributes
Brand attributes are 3-5 words that describe your product or service. They reflect the most essential and outstanding aspects of your brand.
Speak to what sets you apart from your competitor (even if you fundamentally offer the same service).
Reflect how you want to be perceived.
Create an emotional connection with your target audience.
When choosing your brand attributes, start big. Write out as many suitable words as possible, and begin to eliminate until you’re left with the most fundamental qualities.
When defining your brand attributes, avoid:
Redundancy. (e.g. 'Passionate' and 'Committed' cover similar territory.)
Descriptions of your goods or services. (Your goods or services are probably not unique, but your approach, and personality are.)
You don't need to get too technical with this, but you do need to be precise.
Below is a scary image of what my brand attribute brainstorm looks like. I write all the words in pencil, and I pick my favorites by finalizing in pen.
It is very important to complete this step before you do anything else. Brand attributes determine the rest of your visual brand identity – i.e. logo, typefaces and color palettes, and your overall marketing strategy. Be thoughtful and intentional in this step, and focus on what makes your brand standout.
In the next blog post, I'll discuss how to use your brand attributes to develop a logo.
I'm Sara, a San Francisco-based Graphic Designer with experience designing for nonprofits, arts organizations, and real estate. Check out my portfolio. Reach out if you need branding or graphic design help.