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How to Create a Brand From Start to Finish (Part 1: All Things Designing Brand Identity)

how to create a brand from start to finish part 1

Calling all the small business owners who are starting their brand from the ground up, I've got a special surprise for you!

Heading into 2024 has me so pumped to begin helping small business owners with creating stunning, scroll-stopping, cohesive and unique brand experiences - everything from brand identity, website design, to graphic design templates.

I'm starting a new mini series that will help all small business owners create their brand from scratch and do it in the right way - for free. Yes, you read that right.

I've already seen so much posting in Facebook groups and on social media. Posts consisting of new entrepreneurs saying they've created their logo, but they just can't get their vision to align with what they are creating and they need help to finish their concept and bring it to life.

Ladies.... it's time to put Canva away. Don't get me wrong, I love Canva for a ton of different reasons, but choosing a color palette and a pre-made logo is not the way. Close out of that pre-made logo template you found and stop the revolving door of paying someone on Fiverr or Upwork. Because, let's face it. You most definitely get what you pay for.

If you're ready to tackle your business branding from scratch, then please continue reading.

Everything you need to know about designing branding identity for small business

Trust me, understanding this from the very beginning is just as important as creating the logo.

Can you name a brand that you love? Just write down the first one that comes to mind. Maybe your fave brand is a clothing store, cosmetics line, a local coffee shop, or perhaps a grocery store. Now think of the reasons you keep coming back to that business.

Consumers continue repeat purchases with a business when its values and mission align to you or the products or services resonate with you in a more deeper sense.

Take Coca-Cola for example. Coca-Cola has created a memorable brand experience for consumers as they associate the drink with the good ol' days, tying in past memories to create an emotional connection.

As consumers, we don't always plainly see how we are tied to a brand and the psychology behind why we love it. We just buy the product or service, because the brand is knowledgeable, credible, maybe popular, and we love what it stands for. We don't know what it takes to make a business' brand versatile, unique, and strong.

Branding: the foundation of awareness of your business

Business startup graphical image

This brings us to the art and skill of branding a business. Which is the visual and psychological components of what makes a brand physically unique and fills it with personality. This is what ultimately drives awareness and reputation around the business, and it's products or services.

There are so many moving parts into creating a brand and it takes years to create a successful and sustainable brand. However, I'm sure you're wondering how branding works and what about brand identity - aren't they the same thing. No... they're not.

Your brand identity is all the components of your brand - all the elements that come together to express your brand to the world. The more refined, specific, and clear these elements are, the higher the chance your brand identity will be easily recognizable and admired among your audience.

To recap, let's look at that again.

A brand is how the world perceives and resonates with a business.

Branding is the process of hiring a brand identity designer to create the mold, voice, and style of how the world perceives and resonates with the business.

A brand identity is a collection of all the visual elements, assets, fonts, colors, messaging, voice, mission, etc. that a business uses to portray itself to consumers.

You should think of your business as a person. Consumers crave an emotional connection, and there is no better way than to think of your business as a human. You can even give it a fun name, for a more humanized/avatar approach.

Majority, if not all people, want to be viewed in a certain way and be known for something they've achieved or worked hard on, this in turn follows their habits, actions, and morals in their lives.

As an example, maybe in high school you were passionate about art, creativity, and music. Maybe you always carried a sketchbook or a camera, listened to music and loved yearbook class. Or you could have been athletic, wore the latest Jordan's or Nikes, and joined all of your sports teams because you loved competing and striving for more. These finer personality traits and accessories are the exact elements of how a business creates a brand identity.

A brand identity is the most actionable, and crucial part of what makes a business into a brand. You will need to strategize the right elements to execute a clear message, mission, vision, and values. Brand identity elements do vary among different businesses, but some of the most common are:

Business Name: Your business name will hopefully exist for the duration of the time you're conducting business. It's important to ask key questions when creating your business name. Does it need to mean something? Is it versatile and memorable? Is it hard to understand? Does it make sense to use this name in my industry or niche? Has it been overused? You can even try out some business name generators to help get some additional ideas flowing. Always research your business name and tagline on the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to ensure it's not already trademarked and to ensure no one has pending trademark registration.

Tagline: Sometimes a business name may not be enough to express the business. A well developed tagline can help can expand on the meaning of the business. Like Nike, "Just Do It", or Disney "The Happiest Place on Earth". What actionable statement should your business have if it should need one?

Logo: This is the primary image of your business and the most important. You see a swoosh on a shoe, or the golden arches from the interstate and you instantly have brand recognition. Creating a mood board is great during this phase, because it can help you understand the direction of your vision and find inspiration from successful brands in your industry.

Typography: A consistent group of fonts is imperative for cohesive branding across all touchpoints aka your marketing channels. It's definitely key to choose fonts that will refine the message and personality of your brand. Think of how Coca-Cola uses their logo and fonts across all their packaging. Or search any reputable, successful brand, and check out their branding on their social media, products/services, and on their website.

Colors: Choosing colors are highly important and cannot be overlooked. Understand the basics of color theory and color meaning are highly recommended. Will your business be conducting service or selling products all over the world? Different colors have different meanings in certain cultures and countries. Plus, colors themselves symbolize feelings and beliefs. Blue is known for loyalty, honesty, and reliability. Purple is royalty and luxury. Red, often is perceived of danger, power or romance.

Personality: Defining your brand voice and personality are also crucial to the overall look and feel of your brand. It's also key in defining the tone and style of your messaging across touchpoints. What kind of personality traits will your business have? How will you address your audience? Is the tone serious and formal, or is it quirky, bold, and friendly? I recommend using a tone that will match your target audience.

Throughout this mini brand series, I'll help you as a small business owner understand all the elements we just covered above and teach you how to apply them to your own business' brand identity. I'll also guide you in what you already know about your business (target audience, mission, vision, values, and personality ) and turn that into a honed in strategy that will result in creating your visual brand identity (the logo, brand elements and brand style guide).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, Building Your Brand Strategy.

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