One of the most challenging parts of starting a new business is building a brand. With so many hurdles and a to-do list a mile long, business owners need ways to save their valuable time and money. In this article, we discuss exactly what new brands need and what they don’t, how to stand out in a crowded marketplace, and how to begin building brand awareness.
What your new brand needs
When starting a new business, you may be familiar with the term “brand” or at least know that you need one. A brand can be defined as how your business is perceived in the minds of your customers. In other words, it’s how your business is represented both visually and conceptually in the world. So, what does your new brand truly need?
Your brand needs a logo.
A logo is more than just an interesting symbol or beautiful typography—it’s your business’ unique visual identifier. Without a logo, there is nothing to quickly and easily differentiate your business from another. An effective logo is unique, memorable and makes the right impression with your audience.
You need brand identity elements.
Beyond your business logo, you also need the foundational brand elements including brand colors, typography, imagery and graphic style. Whether on your website, collateral, social media or other platforms, these elements are key to establishing visual consistency in how you present your business to the public.
You need brand guidelines.
Lastly, your brand needs a set of guidelines. Brand guidelines include a breakdown of how to use and not use your logo and brand identity elements. These guidelines serve as a useful reference document for you, your team and even other vendors to ensure your brand is displayed consistently at all times.
What your brand doesn’t need
As a new business, you’re just starting to discover who you are as a brand and beginning to establish your voice and values. These elements help to define your company’s unique perspective. While these elements are undoubtedly important, they are factors that will become apparent the longer you’re in business and will continue to evolve. Once you have already established your business and brand foundation, continue to advance your brand by further developing your voice, values and more in-depth strategy.
You don’t need endless brand collateral items.
Instead, focus on the essentials. These include basic brand collateral such as business cards, an evergreen one-sheet or overview of your business, an email signature, and social media profile and cover graphics. These key brand collateral pieces ensure your brand is consistently represented across print and digital spaces and provide you with the tools needed to get out there and start promoting your business.
How to stand out in a crowded marketplace
Virtually every business has multiple competitors all vying for the same audience’s attention. So, how can your brand stand out from the crowd and cut above the noise?
Look at what your competitors are doing.
Take a close look at your top competitors and you might be surprised. It’s very common for brands within the same industry to often look and sound very similar to one another. With so many commonalities, it’s important for your business brand to maintain a visually distinct, ownable identity. For example, if the majority of the businesses within your field use blue as their primary brand color, focus on other colors to stand out.
Know your differentiators.
What makes your business different from your competitors? Why should a potential customer choose your business over another? Knowing your target audience’s pain points and being able to solve their problems in ways that are different from the competition are key factors to building a strong brand identity.
Use your business differentiators in your brand strategy. Highlight them on your website and in your brand’s collateral. Your differentiators should be easy to spot and visible throughout all your brand platforms including your website, collateral, social media and more.
Building brand awareness and recognition
Once you have created your brand identity and analyzed the competition to find the right opportunities to stand out, it’s time to start building brand awareness and brand recognition. By doing so, you’ll increase your number of potential customers and start building your brand’s reputation.
Show up where your audience is.
As a business, it’s important to be visible to your audience. You could have the best products or provide the best service in the world, but if your potential customers don’t know about you, they won’t be able to buy from you.
Jump-start your brand awareness by representing your brand in both online and offline avenues including social media groups, direct mail advertising, industry-specific networking events and more. At the start, showing up in more places is a great way to discover where your audience is, what works and what doesn’t.
Consistency is king.
Without brand consistency how will your audience recognize you? If you use one set of colors and fonts on your website, and different ones within your social media, it sends a confusing message and says that you don’t know who you are as a business. Use your brand guidelines to ensure that your messaging and visual identity are consistent to start creating brand recognition in your audience.
Putting it all together
While creating a brand may seem overwhelming at first, focus on the essentials and find the right creative partner to help you do so. Follow the outline above to ensure your new business will be able to launch its brand quickly and effectively, without wasting unnecessary time or money.
Originally published Jan. 31, 2022.