Branding for businesses can include quite a few different elements – from strategic brand planning, to visual designs, to content strategy, and more.
There are lots of elements that could be included in your brand, so it can be confusing for entrepreneurs to sift through what core branding elements are actually required.
While every business is different and has its own nuances, here is an overview of the elements that are necessary to include in every brand.
Contrary to common knowledge, it is crucial to get clarity on your brand purpose, mission, and vision before developing a visual brand identity for your business. In order for your visual branding to be effective and attract the right customers, it needs to be rooted in these core tenants of your business.
Questions to ask when considering your brand purpose include:
- Why did you start your business in the first place?
- What is your business’s mission?
- Where do you see your company in 10 years?
If you would like some assistance in creating these statements for your business, I show entrepreneurs how to create clear mission, purpose, and vision statements and develop full brand strategies for their businesses in the Brand Clarity online course.
You may know this component of brand strategy by many other names: finding your ideal client, identifying your target audience, or creating a user persona.
No matter what terminology you prefer, it’s important to get to know your ideal customers and understand what they want, how your offering can help them, and what types of messaging and visuals will resonate with them the most.
This exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or take several hours – it can be simple and fun. Start brainstorming: if you had a lot of sales and your business was thriving, who would your typical customer be? If you consolidated the common traits of your audience into one imaginary person, what would that person want to see when interacting with your brand?
It’s not enough for your business to provide an exceptional product or service – you also need to have an eye on the competition. Not for the purposes of copying them or becoming intimidated by them, but to familiarize yourself with their branding so you can find ways to purposely set your business apart.
Take some time to do a competitive analysis of similar-sized businesses in your industry and observe the colors, logos, websites, and brand voices they use. What could you do to express the core elements of your business while also standing out from businesses providing similar offerings?
If you would like professional guidance on how to position your brand, a brand strategist can conduct this analysis for you.
After focusing on your target customers and competitors, you can develop the traits you want potential customers to associate with your business.
Do you want your branding to feel fun and bright and positive? Or serious and sleek? Do you want customers to see your offerings as a luxury good or an affordable option? Are you a well-established stable business or a fresh and innovative startup?
The traits about your business that you choose to showcase through your branding are called brand attributes, and they will be expressed primarily through visual designs.
I created a simple exercise to help business owners identify their brand attributes and start incorporating them into your branding today. The exercise is part of this free branding mini-workbook which you can download here:
A memorable logo is an important part of every business’s branding. A recognizable logo will help new customers find your business as well as help existing customers remember your brand.
Your logo is the core symbol of your brand, and the most recognizable and effective logo designs in the world share one key trait: they are simple.
Think of the Nike swoosh, the Apple logo, or the golden arches of McDonald’s. None of these designs are cluttered or complicated, but when millions of people see these symbols we immediately know what brand they belong to.
In addition to being simple, it’s important that your logo design uses colors, typography, and lines that express the brand attributes of your business.
Colors, Fonts, and Images
Beyond your logo, your brand will need a visual identity that reflects your brand attributes and resonates with your target. Elements of your visual brand identity will include colors, fonts, and styled imagery.
It’s imperative to work with a designer or brand strategist in order to create visual designs that will stand out from your competitors while still making sense for your industry and your target. Here is an article that explains the basics of color, shape, and placement psychology when creating visual branding elements.
This is why we always complete the brand strategy steps above before even thinking about creating visual designs: how could you possibly know what would stand out from the competition or what your target would prefer if you hadn’t looked at the competition or considered your target?
We also made this fun quiz to help you test the rest of your branding knowledge! At the end of the quiz, you will receive personalized guidance on the next branding steps for your business:
Whether you sell products or services, and no matter what industry you are in — every business needs to have its own website. Even if you are selling on a 3rd party site like Etsy or if you are a service provider who has thrived on word-of-mouth referrals so far, the sooner you have a branded website of your own the more successful your business can be.
A website functions as the “home base” of your brand and remains in your control even as social media algorithms and rules change. By having your own website, you allow potential customers to become familiar with your colors, offering, mission, and brand voice, and you can also give them an opportunity to stay connected by signing up for your email list of making a purchase.
Once you have developed the above elements of your brand, plus any additional items depending on your unique situation, your job is to use and maintain your new brand in a consistent way at all times.
A brand board is a document that includes your logo, your brand colors with the precise hex codes, the specific fonts associated with your brand, and examples of the types of images to use in your website and social media.
We highly recommend that business owners maintain a brand board and share it with your staff and any contractors who are working on outward-facing materials to make sure your brand is communicated in a consistent way.
Where does your target audience prefer to consume content? Do they prefer podcasts, blog posts, videos, or another format?
Once you know the answer to that question, you can create a strategy around what kinds of content your business should create in order to reach your target. Even if your brand is primarily visual, there will still be a component of written content to consider – think of social media captions, product descriptions, emails, website copy, and so on.
In Chapter 8 of the book BrandFix: A Brand Strategy Guide for Busy Entrepreneurs I walk readers through a process to quickly create 9 pieces of content that express their brand and resonate with their target. Learn more about BrandFix and get your copy here.
In addition to the resources included above, I have written a number of free blog posts here where you can continue to learn about building a brand for your business.
Our Aventive Studio team develops brand strategies and visual designs that help our clients grow their businesses, and you can reach out to us here to discuss how we can help your company build a powerful brand that attracts more customers.