Creating a Brand in 11 Simple Steps
Are you wondering how to build a brand? It’s a smart question – if you’re going to stand out in today’s noisy market, you’ll need a clear message. A bad brand can cripple a business, while a good brand can see sales skyrocket.
Our guide will take you through the stages of creating your own brand identity, and set you up to stand out for all the right reasons.
Every brand, individual, and business is different, so your journey might be different from your neighbor’s – but the 11 stages below should still hold true, whether you’re an Instagram influencer or an old-school operation.
Before jumping feet first into building your brand, take a moment to look around at what you have already. Are you starting completely from scratch? Do you have a business that you want to expand, but no online presence? Perhaps you already have a brand that you want to revamp?
Now’s the time to sit down and hammer out the key values, goals, and principles you want your brand to reflect. What’s at the core of your business? How do you want your customers to see, think, and interact with you?
If you don’t have a business yet, that’s okay! It can actually be much better to start with your brand, and use that as a strong foundation to build your business upon. It means your brand is at the core of your business, rather than being lumped in as an after-thought.
If you already have a business or brand, you can make use of anonymous surveys to learn what your audience loves, and work out what to leave behind as you move forward.
Once you’ve pinned down exactly where you’re coming from and where you want to go, it’s time to figure out your route. Luckily, there are others who have already done the journey, who you can learn some valuable lessons from.
That’s right – we’re talking about good old-fashioned spying (also known as competitor research), and we highly recommend it. These are brands that have made it – they’ve been where you are, and got it right. And now they can (albeit unwittingly) help you get it right, too.
Don’t just head straight for the biggest brands you can think of – there’s no point channeling Coca-Cola if you’re running an independent beauty store. Keep it niche, and focus on brands you admire that are successful in your industry, or embody similar values to your own.
Alongside this thrilling undercover snooping, you also need to understand one of the most important parts of your brand – your target audience.
You can’t please everybody – it’s a fact of life. This means you need to narrow down your audience – who are you trying to reach? How will you engage them? Why would they choose your brand over your competitors’?
It’s all very well saying this, but how do you research your future audience? Here are some ways to get started:
- Talk to people – ask them about their buying habits: which brands are their favorites? Why? What’s missing for them in this category?
- Put yourself in their shoes – if you’re running an online store, get shopping. If you’re a service-based business, request quotes. If you’re creating a personal brand, follow blogs or relevant Instagram accounts. What can you offer users that these brands can’t?
- Get nosy – head to your competitors’ sites and do some digging. Check out any reviews or comments sections, and head to their social media accounts, too. What are their customers happy with or complaining about?
The main purpose of this step is to point out that you will probably need to spend some money to get your new brand off the ground. Yes, there are probably ways of creating a brand that are free – but the truth is, if you want a professional brand, be prepared to invest in it.
There are some basic things it’s always worth paying for, including:
- Your logo – nothing says shady like a weird, grainy, or downright ugly logo. It’s worth getting someone to design it properly! It doesn’t have to cost you a bomb either, if you use a site like Fiverr to design your logo.
- Your website – whether you pay a developer or build your own using a website builder, your website is worth investing in.
- Professional tools – upgrading to premium online tools can save you tons of time and stress down the line.
Remember, your brand is your business’s personality – it’s how people think about and interact with your business. Having a shoddy logo or website is like turning up to a business meeting in socks and sandals.
But my brand is going to be chill and cool! That’s fine – your brand doesn’t have to portray a suit and tie kind of vibe, but it should ooze trustworthiness. And that’s where putting some money in really helps – chill doesn’t have to mean cheap, after all.
- Investing in your brand doesn’t have to be expensive! Read our review of the Best Cheap Website Builders to find out how low your costs could be.
This is the really fun part, and also a crucial step for creating your brand. It’s time to decide on your fonts, colors, and logo!
Our top tip here is to keep it simple. It’s easy to get carried away with the whole spectrum of colors and hundreds of fonts at your fingertips.
The trick with choosing your colors is not to be bland, but also not to throw every shade of the rainbow in there. Try to choose a primary color, and a complimentary secondary color.
For example, Coca-Cola uses red as its primary color, with white as its secondary color. McDonald’s is famous for it golden arches, alongside its red and white signs.
When you’re picking your color scheme, it’s worth taking a dip into the weird and wonderful world of color psychology. Certain colors cause certain reactions in us – for example, blue is calming and evokes a sense of trust, while red is powerful and energetic, but can also make people feel agitated.
Fonts can also make or break your brand. You don’t have to stick with a single font for everything, but don’t go too overboard. Pick one for headings and one for body copy, and make sure they don’t clash. And whatever you do, don’t pick Comic Sans – you have been warned.
A quick note on choosing your logo design – it doesn’t have to be extravagant or complicated! When you think of the most famous logos, they tend to be very simple and easy to remember.
If you’re including both a symbol and your business name in your logo, it’s worth also having one designed that just features the symbol, as this can be useful on social media or to cement your brand.
- Not sure which colors to pick for your brand or your website? Check out our handy guide on How to Choose a Good Color Scheme.
- Read our guide on How to Make a Logo for some inspiration on turning your design idea into reality.
- Fonts can be tricky – avoid the pitfalls with our guide on How to Pick the Perfect Font Style Design for Your Website.
The final step before actually launching your brand is to find your voice. This sets the tone for your brand, and will lie at the very heart of everything your brand produces – from on-site copy to emails, adverts and social media campaigns.
Your tone, voice, and values need to be consistent and transparent across your whole brand. It’s no use having a friendly, informal voice on your social media, but then a dry, serious voice on your website.
A great example of a brand with a strong tone of voice is Innocent, the smoothie company. Its consistency is impressive – everything from the lack of capital letters to the simple, informal language. The tone of its blogs, emails, and labels all work together to create a clear brand image.
Playful, friendly, sustainable. These are just a few things Innocent wants you to associate with its brand, and it succeeds through its consistent use of voice. What are the three words you want to reflect your brand?
Now you’ve laid the groundwork of building your brand, it’s time to build (or improve) your online presence – and what better way to start than by creating your own website?
97% of consumers go online to find and research local businesses – will you be there waiting for them, with open arms and a beautiful website? Yes, yes you will. There are two main ways you can build your website:
- Hire a web designer: If you have a generous budget and aren’t in a hurry, then hiring a web designer to build your website for you could be the right choice. You’ll need to create a design brief, and work alongside your designer to make sure you end up with a site you can easily manage, and which matches your brand vision.
- Use a website builder to build your site yourself: You can easily build a professional looking site, without needing any tech skills, if you decide to use a website builder. This is a quick, budget-friendly way of creating a site, but that doesn’t mean you sacrifice quality – just take a look at the example site below!
One thing to make sure of when setting up your website is that it’s mobile optimized – this is absolutely essential, as around 57% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Because of this, Google ranks mobile-optimized sites higher up than sites which aren’t mobile friendly.
Another important feature is social media integration. We’ll get to the fun side of social media soon, but for now, make sure your website can integrate with your various social media accounts. This will make it easy for your visitors to follow, connect, and interact with you later on!
Whichever method you choose, your website is the perfect chance to put your carefully chosen brand colors, fonts, and logos into practice. Make sure all the copy is in line with your lovingly crafted tone of voice, and that your site itself also reflects your brand.
Now is also a good time to set up accounts for your social media – but first, you need some content to share…
Now you have your beautiful website, you need some content!
Whether this is content to fill up your website, shiny new blog posts, white papers, videos, or interviews, it’s killer content that will draw your visitors in (and have Google eating out of your hand!)
Remember to keep all your content in-line with your tone of voice. That includes any videos you create, or graphics you design – don’t let them clash with the tone of your content. Do have fun showing the world what your brand is all about.
- If you’ll be using lots of videos on your site, read our guide on How to Use Video Backgrounds for some extra inspiration.
- Starting a blog? Choosing the right platform to build your site on can make all the difference – check out the resources below for more information:
Embracing social media is the next step in building your brand. You don’t want to give it the cold shoulder, but you should also avoid squeezing the life out of it – instead, aim for the middle-ground with a firm but loving hug.
Our top tip here would be don’t expect too much from yourself.
First, don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick a couple of social channels that will appeal to your target audience, and which are manageable for you. For example, you might choose Twitter and Instagram if you’re aiming for a younger demographic, or even Snapchat if your brand is feeling fun and adventurous.
Secondly, try to post regularly, but don’t exhaust yourself – or your resources. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to post something every three hours, or even every single day.
Keeping it relevant is key – you can have fun, as long as it relates back to your brand. Now is the time to integrate your social media with your website – share new content on your social channels, and put share, like, and follow buttons on your website.
Another hot tip is not to be too salesy on your social media accounts. Social media is where people go to relax, distract themselves during their commute, and connect with others – they don’t want sales shoved at them from every angle.
Interact with your followers, post engaging content, make use of relevant trends, and keep it fairly regular, and you should see positive results.
- Social media doesn’t just have to be fun – it can be business too. Find out How to Make Money on Instagram in our in-depth guide.
Isn’t this the same as step eight? Well, yes, but also, not quite. Social media is definitely one of the main methods of promoting your brand – it got its own section, after all! But it’s not the only way.
The power of marketing covers an endless range of tactics, tips and tricks to get your business seen by as many people as possible. But you can’t just run through the streets flinging flyers into the air – as we learned earlier, you need to engage your target audience with your marketing.
Here are just some of the main ways you can promote your brand:
- Email marketing: It’s a big one – 92% of adults in the US use email, which is a huge market to make the most of. Website builders like Wix and Squarespace come with email campaign features built-in, which is a great way of ensuring your campaigns stay on-brand in terms of design.
- Blogging: Blogging can do wonders for your brand. Not only does it give you something to regularly shout about on social media and in emails, it also shows people (and Google) that you really know what you’re talking about. Plus, it appeals to a wide range of demographics!
- Events: Are you a local business? See if you can sponsor a local event to grow a positive awareness of your brand, or even host an event yourself to connect with your audience on a community level.
- Endorsements and influencers: We all love hearing about what our favorite celebrities love. This might be out of reach for modest startups, but endorsements of any kind can have a big positive impact for people’s image of your brand. You can also try approaching influencers (if you feel your target audience would connect with them).
Find out more
Make sure your marketing methods are effective for your target audience! Learn How to Use Online Reviews to Market to Different Generations in our handy infographic.
Uh, what? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and this is what helps your website rank highly in Google’s search results. Without it, your beautifully thought out, crafted, and promoted brand will sit gathering virtual dust on page 10.
If you’ve used a quality website builder to create your website, you’re in luck – your site will already be optimized for the techy stuff, and the rest will be easy to get the hang of – even for a beginner!
If you’re using WordPress, we definitely recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin, as it’ll help you manage your SEO and make your life much easier.
Either way, your SEO won’t magically take care of itself – here are a few basic things you can do to help climb up those Google rankings…
Get SSL Security
This is major – you need SSL security for your website, no matter what. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and encrypts data passing through your site – including card details and secure logins.
If you don’t have SSL security, Google will warn your visitors, and ask them if they want to continue – you can bet most people will say a big ‘no thanks’ and go elsewhere.
Fortunately, most website builders include SSL for free, or you can get a one yourself from Let’s Encrypt at no extra cost.
Compress your images
Images, videos, and other media can seriously impact how fast your site loads. And it’s not just impatient visitors who don’t like slow loading sites – Google hates them too.
However, you can avoid dreaded slow site speeds by compressing your files first – use a free tool like Kraken.io to compress your images before uploading them.
Google loves structure, and so do your readers! Just like in a Google Doc, you can use different headings – H1 for your main title, H2 for your main headings, and H3 and H4 for little subheadings (like the one above!)
The list of SEO factors goes on and on (there are guides out there with over 200), so we’ll stop there – but you get the idea. Don’t neglect your SEO, or Google will neglect your website!
- Find out the importance of SSL security in our in-depth guide to Why Your Site Needs HTTPS
- Feeling stuck for images? Our guide on Where to Find Professional Images for Your Website will help you out.
- New to SEO? Check out our helpful tips and tricks on:
This is only the beginning of your brand. Just because you’ve completed all our steps, doesn’t mean your brand is now totally finished. The final step is to keep going – you should constantly be evolving, growing, and improving your brand.
Tools like Google Analytics are great for tracking your website’s metrics, such as how long people are spending on your site, where they’re visiting from, and which pages are most popular.
But only your audience can tell you how successful your brand is – remember, your brand is really how people think about your business. You can control your side of that, but it’s important to make sure it’s being received in the way you hoped!
Once you’ve launched your brand, gather feedback to see how people are responding. Don’t sit back and relax – think about what you can make better, what’s working well, and how you can spread that success across every aspect of your brand.
This article has taken you through the stages of building your brand. Whether you’re building a business, creating a personal brand, or revamping your existing brand, these steps will set you on the way to brand greatness.
Here’s a quick recap of our 11 simple steps on how to build a brand:
- Take stock of what you’ve got
- Do the research
- Invest in Your Brand
- Design your business
- Find your voice
- Get online
- Create your content
- Embrace social media
- Promote your brand
- Don’t neglect your SEO
- Don’t stop now!
You’ll no doubt find some extra steps creep in when you’re actually doing this for yourself, because every brand is different – that’s the joy of it. But these 11 steps will see you through creating your own brand identity, and hopefully give you the inspiration to get started today!
Have you successfully built a brand? Got some top tips to share? Let us know in the comments!