Branding for Beginners: How to Get Started
Often times branding is considered a color palette and logo– and it is, but it’s also so much more.
Branding is the heart, soul and spirit of a business in visual form. It invites viewers into a story and allows them to feel something they can connect with.
While branding can be complicated, I would love to break down the basics so you can get started with a brand for your business, because it’s just that important!
Branding isn’t just deliverables, it’s an experience. Think of Southwest or Starbucks or Coca Cola. While these brands are selling a product/service, these brands invite viewers into an experience and the viewers feel something when they interact. These brands have served customers with a consistent experience for years and decades which has built trust over time thus resulting in a die-hard fan base.
So how does one go a brand experience to building a dedicated fan base?
It all begins with setting a firm foundation. So let’s begin there, at the roots, so-to-speak.
Identify your values
With every branding project, I begin by giving my clients an in-depth questionnaire. Because the first thing you need to do, is find out what your deepest values and goals are for your business.
The questionnaire I provide for my clients is chalk full of deep-dive questions to find out the values of the business, the goals, the target market, style preferences, etc.
Identifying the core values are so important because your values will guide all your other decisions, such as how you show up, how you market, how you network, etc. The sooner you get clear on what is most important to you the sooner you move forward with everything else.
For example, honesty is a key value for me. So, with that value in mind, I keep communication open with my clients to maintain that we are on the same page. We begin each project over a face-to-face discovery call (most of the time this is through Zoom or Google Hangouts), and throughout the rest of the project I keep honest communication as a priority I encourage my clients to be honest in their feedback and with their ideas.
Doing this keeps our collaboration productive and enjoyable. My clients often say they feel heard and understood which is such a win for me because that’s exactly what I want them to feel!
If you’re starting out and want to begin your business with a solid brand, ask yourself these key questions about your target market, your service, and your values.
Who do I serve best? Who do I want to serve?
What do I do best? How can I use this information to market myself differently, and stand out?
Which values are most important to me?
Choose simple visuals & professional imagery
One of the best aspects of branding is that your business will look cohesive. Meaning across all platforms and social media, your online presence will look uniform and professional thus building trust.
Here are the most important visual elements of branding:
A logo identifies your business quickly and professionally. While it’s great to have a logo it’s also one of those things you can change down the line as your business grows or if you change your business name.
I think of it like this: a logo is a movie trailer and the brand is the movie. While the logo is apart of the brand, it isn’t everything. It’s just a taste.
So while it’s important to have a logo, it’s ok if you decide to change it later on.
Don’t get too stuck on the logo. If you’re creating your own, go for versatility and simplicity. When in doubt, simple is best.
Finding colors is one of the most fun and difficult things to do. Especially when you want your colors to appeal to a lot of people and you want your colors to not be overwhelming. Think about focusing on 2 or 3 colors and using others to compliment them. Take a look at this post to find out if the colors you’re using will attract your ideal client.
If you find yourself going back and forth between colors, choose something neutral and go from there. Use one or two accent colors that are distinctive, but keep it simple and clean. You can always change your color palette later on.
The photos you use to represent your business are just as important as having a logo and color palette.
The photos you share can be one of the quickest ways to either set you up to be professional, or make you look inexperienced. Photos play such a crucial role in your branding that it’s one of the services I offer. If you’re interested, take a look to find out more.
I recommend EVERYONE hire a professional photographer for at least your headshots starting out. Headshots are typically a little more inexpensive and they set a really great first impression to potential clients and customers.
And for all other photos for your website or social media I recommend using quality, professional photos. If you’re into taking your own photos, This post explains the key ingredients you can implement that will give you excellent DIY photos but basically it comes down to using natural light, and editing your photos with a photo-editing app, such as Snapseed or PicTapGo.
Where to start with your website
Your website is one of the most important aspects of your business because it’s your online hub for where people can find out about you, your business, learn about your services, and hire you.
When you’re starting out, having a website is very important to direct people to your home base, showcase your product, and have a place to collect information from potential clients, such as email addresses.
If you’re building your own site, I recommend Squarespace, hands down. It’s intuitive, professional and you can easily make changes. In this post I go in depth about the many benefits of using this platform.
Also if you’re building your own site, make sure you’re not making these 3 mistakes.
Website templates are also a great option if you’re looking more into the DIY route. But if you’re serious about gaining traction and not wasting time figuring out SEO and website strategy, I recommend hiring a web designer.
Allow time to build your brand
Finally, know that building a brand takes time. This is vital to your success. When you start a business, even if you have everything lined up, it will take time for your audience to get to know you and trust you and become loyal fans.
So be patient and don’t worry if you’re feeling behind or like everyone is moving on faster than you. Take one step forward every single day and you’ll get to where you want to go!
Tell me, which part of the branding process seems difficult or out of reach?
Is there any part of branding that’s still unclear or needs explaining?