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The Ins and Outs of Creating a Brand: Brand Guide Part One

January 6, 2019 / Branding

The Ins and Outs of Branding. A Beginnger's Guide.

Today I am introducing a new series to the Grace Built Blog, a brand guide: The Ins and Outs of Creating a Brand. Throughout this four-part branding series, we will be discussing all of the essential aspects of creating a memorable brand, that works for your audience and drives sales. The guide will walk through a brand evaluation, discuss finding your target audience, learn more about moodboards, color theory, plus typography, and touch on setting brand objectives.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! We have broken this up into four separate posts, so you have time to consume each post, and work on implementing what you have learned. By the end, you should have all the tools you need for creating a brand that stands the test of time.

Shall we get started?

Having trouble with your brand evaluation? Download our 8-question workbook to get started!

What Is Branding?

First and foremost, it is essential to understand what exactly a brand is. Often you will hear the term logo and the term brand used interchangeably, however, your business logo is just one aspect of your brand, not your whole brand.

Branding is the foundation of your business, and the collective efforts of design, language, and your customers experience. In other terms, your brand is how your customers perceive you and their emotional response to your product or service. It’s what they say about you, how they feel about you, and what makes them choose you. Your logo is part of your brand, just as much as how you or your employees answer the phone is a part of your brand.

To break it down into more substantial terms, branding is made up of: 

    1. Brand identity (how you want to be perceived)
    2. Brand image (the way your customers perceive you)
    3. Brand positioning (your position in the market)
    4. Brand personality
    5. Brand equity (commercial value)
    6. Brand experience
    7. Brand differentiation
    8. Brand communication
    9. Brand gap (the difference between what you promise and what you deliver).

At the end of the day, all of these things should be working to differentiate you, build relationships and promote loyalty. A good brand is:

    1. Recognizable
    2. Clear
    3. Consistent
    4. Adaptable
    5. Authentic

Now that we are on the same page about what branding is, let’s move on to the fun stuff! First up in creating a good brand, is a brand evaluation.

Brand Evaluation

Before starting work on creating a brand, or before you update your existing brand, it’s important to evaluate where you are in the market currently, and where you want to go. A brand evaluation will help you determine your place in the market compared to your competitors and will highlight your weaknesses.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. What is your mission?
    2. What is your current brand strategy
    3. How is your current brand strategy working?
    4. What is your brand messaging?
    5. What are the key benefits of your service or product?
    6. What is the key difference between your competitors and you?
    7. What aspects of your business is your branding currently applied to and what areas is it not?
    8. What do your customers currently think about your business?
    9. What qualities do you want your customers to associate with your business?
    10. Do you have a brand standards guide that you and your employees can reference?

As you answer these questions, be as honest and thorough as possible. Again, you want to be highlighting your weaknesses, so you can find the areas you can improve on and determine how to move forward. You can use social media analytics, google analytics, research, customer surveys, etc. to help gather the information needed to answer these questions fully. As a guide to help you, you can download the brand evaluation PDF.

Target Audience

One of the most crucial aspects of creating a successful brand, is determining who your target audience is and understanding them on a deep level. Finding your target audience allows you to create content that converts and ensures that your brand is not working against you.

You probably have an idea of who your target audience is, but honing in on the minor details will help you understand what drives them. When you know why your audience makes decisions, you can cater your content to them. With every choice you make for your brand, you should always be referring back to your ideal target audience to make sure that your choice is in line with their demographics and values.

I find that answering these questions is really helpful:

    1. What problem(s) does your service or product solve for your customers?
    2. What do your customers gain from choosing you over your competition?
    3. Who is your competition targeting?
    4. Are there enough people in your target audience to be successful?
    5. What drives your target audience to make a purchase?

A great exercise you can do with your team, is to create a persona. This is an outline of your ideal target audience that you can reference when you are stuck in a decision. Your persona should include:

    1. Age
    2. Gender
    3. Occupation
    4. Income
    5. Education
    6. Marital Status
    7. Ethnicity
    8. Interests
    9. Personality
    10. Lifestyle

Persona Example:

brand guide identifying your target audience

As your brand grows and evolves, be sure to keep returning to your target audience. As a guide to help you, you can download this target audience PDF. Of course, there are instances where you have two audiences. A Tale Of Two Audiences (blog post by Spruce Rd.) is a great resource for navigating branding for two audiences.

Having trouble with your brand evaluation? Download our 8-question workbook to get started!

Next Up in the Brand Guide

That’s it for today! Not too overwhelming, I hope?! If you have any questions about these first three steps to creating a brand, please leave a comment below or email me at courtney@gracebuiltco.com. In part two of this series, we will be discussing setting brand objectives and finding your brand tone. It’s going to be a good one, so I hope to see you there!