As a designer I help small businesses all the time work to define and refine their brands… but you know what, it’s a difficult process to do for myself. And it’s not something you set in stone, walk away from and never pay attention to again. Over time, as your business grows, as your life changes, you may find that your brand needs some refining.
That’s why I wanted to share there 3 steps to defining your brand with you. Keep in mind, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Defining a brand is a long and sometime difficult process. You can jump down rabbit trails on single topics, trust me I’ve been there.
I remember once sitting in weekly meetings about defining the brand of the company I was working for. Sometimes those meetings would end with less clarity than when they started. But over time, with lots of effort we were able to define
Step #1: You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but the reality is you can’t be everything to everyone. The sooner you come to terms with this, the sooner you can begin to define who your target market is. The saying “the riches are in the niches” is true for a reason. Your business (your brand) needs to know who your ideal customer is and you need to refine your brand to speak to that customer.
Step #2: BE YOU Instead of Trying to Be Your Competition.
I think we’ve all experienced how awesome it is to be inspired by what someone else in our field is doing. Inspiration can lead to motivation… and that’s great. But be careful you don’t step over the line from inspiration to flat out copying your competition. If you have successfully completed step #1 and accepted that you can’t be everything to everyone and you’ve worked to identify your ideal customer – then be authentically you for your ideal customer.
Step #3: Your Brand is About More Than Logos & Color Palettes.
It’s easy to think your brand is just about your logo and chosen color palette. IT IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE. Which is why this step doesn’t show up on the list until step #3. Your brand encompasses a variety of things including how it makes people feel, how you interact with customers, the impressions people take with them after they interact with you, how people talk about you when you’re not in the room. I could go on and on. It can be hard to define what a “brand” really is because it’s not just one singular thing. It’s not just the aesthetics of your business. It’s so much more than that. You logo and your color palette are aesthetic elements of your brand. Yes, they matter. Yes, they can say A LOT about your business, so it’s important that they are telling the right story.
So before you spend a great deal of time on having a graphic designer rework your logo or create a “branding suite” for you. Start by defining your ideal customer. Stop mimicking your competition. Then come back to your logo and color palette and you’ll find it’s much easier now to imagine what your ideal customer will connect with. And at the end of the day, what they really want to connect with is you. You are your brand.