brand identity

Before you complete the design forms. If you're stuck on the look, tone, and feel you want. Check out this helpful guide.

Building a brand from the ground up that stands out is no easy task. What should it look like? How should it make people feel? Will it resonate with my target audience?

These are questions that inevitably come up when you start thinking about how to connect the dots between what you’re selling and who you’re trying to reach.

A brand isn’t just a recognizable name and brand logo that distinguishes you in a crowded market.

The best way to build a brand starts with establishing what that consistency is going to look like and the feeling you want it to evoke.

Research your target audience and your competitors

Before you start making any decisions about how to create a business brand, you need to understand the current market, i.e., who your potential customers and current competitors are. There are many ways to do this step of how to make a brand:

  • Google your product or service category and analyze the direct and indirect competitors that come up.
  • Check subreddits that relate to your customers and eavesdrop on their conversations and product recommendations.
  • Talk to people who are part of your target market and ask them what brands they buy from in your space.
  • Look at the relevant social media accounts or pages your target audience follows and are receptive to.
  • Go shopping online or offline and get a feel for how your customers would browse and buy products.
As you go about your research, make a note of:
  • Who your “lowest hanging fruit” customers are—the ones you could most easily sell to.
  • Who your top-of-mind competitors are—the brands that are established and known in the market.
  • How your customers speak and what they talk about—the interests they have and the language they express them in.
It’s important to have a handle on this before moving forward, as it will inform what your brand should focus on and how it can position itself apart from competitors.

Choose your business name

What’s in a name? Depending on the kind of business you want to start, you can make the case that your name matters very little or it matters a lot. As we’ve said before, a brand is so much more than a name. The personality, actions, and reputation of your brand identity are really what give the name meaning in the market. But as a small business owner, your company’s name is probably one of the first big commitments you have to make. It’ll impact your brand logo, your domain, your marketing, and your trademark registration, if you decide to go that route (it’s harder to trademark generic brand names that literally describe what you sell).

Write a slogan

A catchy slogan is a nice-to-have asset—something brief and descriptive you can use as a tagline in your social media bios, website header, custom business cards, and anywhere else where you’ve got very few words to make a big impact. Keep in mind that you can always change your slogan as you find new angles for marketing—Pepsi has gone through over 30 slogans in the past few decades. A good slogan is short, catchy, and makes a strong impression to boost ​​brand awareness.

Choose the look of your brand (colors and font)

Once you’ve got a name down, you’ll need to think about your brand design—how you’ll visually represent your brand—namely your colors and typography. Choosing your colors Colors don’t just define the look of your brand, they also convey the feeling you want to communicate and help you make it consistent across everything you do. You'll want to choose colors that differentiate you from direct competitors to avoid confusing consumers. Color psychology isn’t an exact science, but it does help to inform the choices you make, especially when it comes to the color you pick for your brand logo. Choosing your fonts At this point, it’s also good to look at fonts you might want to use on your website. The ​​best way to build a brand when it comes to fonts is by keeping it simple. Pick two fonts at most to avoid confusing visitors: one for headings and one for body text (this doesn’t include the font you might use in your brand logo).

Apply your branding across your business

This is where we come in! Foundation First will design your logo, website, business cards, etc. Check out our process here.

Pick your focus and personality

You can’t ​​establish your brand to be everything to everyone, especially at the start. It’s important to find your focus and let that inform all the other parts of your brand as you build it. Here are some questions and branding exercises to get you thinking about the focus and tone of your brand.

  • What’s your positioning statement?
    • A positioning statement is one or two lines that stake your claim in the market. This isn’t necessarily something you put on your website or business card—it’s just to help you answer the right questions about your brand and aids in creating your brand’s tagline.
  • What words would you associate with your brand?
    • One way to look at how to build your brand is to imagine your brand as a person. What would he or she be like? What kind of personality would your customers be attracted to? This will help inform your voice on social media and the tone of all your creative, both visual and written.
  • What metaphors or concepts describe your brand?
    • Thinking about your brand identity as a metaphor, or personifying it, can help you identify the individual qualities you want it to have. This can be a vehicle, an animal, a celebrity, a sports team, anything—as long as it has a prominent reputation in your mind that summons the sort of vibe you want your brand to give off.