A close-up of digital advertising.

Building a brand: understanding the building blocks

By Ben Walker on 04 July 2018

Building a brand is more than simply choosing a name for your business. It’s more than creating a logo too. Creating a brand takes insight, understanding, time and consistent effort. Let’s take a look at the various components required in building a strong brand your customers will get to know, and love.

We like to use the metaphor of building a house when talking about building a brand. When you build a house, you don’t start with the roof first and you don’t add that nice floral wallpaper before you’ve even built any walls. In brand terms, you wouldn’t start an Instagram account before you have a business name, or you wouldn’t send out an email campaign before you have a website where people can buy your products or services. Instead, there is a process which has been tried and tested to make sure the structure of your house (your brand) is solid and is built to stand the test of time.

The foundations

This is the understanding phase. Namely, you need to clearly understand three things: your market, your customers and your brand vision. Let’s break these down…

  • Your market: you need to understand if there is a demand for your product or service and who your competitors are. You also need to understand if your product is viable – are you going to make enough money selling this product or service to make a profit? Do some market research and find out what else is out there, how well it’s doing and where your unique offering might fit in.
  • Your customers: get to know the people who will be buying your product or using your service intimately. Find out where they hang out online (Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, forums etc.) and listen to their conversations. Understand your customers’ pain points, what they worry about and what problems you can solve for them. What makes them favour one product over another?
  • Your brand vision: why are you doing what you’re doing? What is the ultimate purpose of your product or service? Your brand vision is what everything else in your overall brand will be hinged on, so make sure you have it crystal clear in your mind from day one.

The structure

This leads us neatly on to brand values. Make a list of what is important to you as a brand. It might include transparency, honesty, integrity, respect, good humour, friendliness, professionalism, or a plethora of other attributes. Remember, pretty much every brand out there wants to be positive and nice, so what’s going to make your brand different? Think about how your ideal customer might describe you and stick to two to three brand values initially.

An advertising billboard on a street.

Write a mission statement for your company that clearly highlights your brand values and your mission. If you don’t have a brand name yet, then thinking about your brand values may have given you some excellent ideas.

A natural progression from your brand values is your brand identity or personality. This is all about how you interact and communicate with your customers. When you put your messages out there, how do you want your business to be perceived? And how can you make sure your brand values shine through in everything you do?

Create a refined set of tone of voice guidelines for your business. By using certain language, words, phrases and methods of communication, you can ensure consistency across your brand and incorporate your values into all your interactions with customers and partners.

The brickwork

Now you know exactly who you are as a brand, it’s time to turn to the more colourful work of design. A strong brand needs an impactful logo. Plus you’ll also need a professional designer to sit down with you and come up with a colour palette and set of fonts that accurately represents what your business is all about.

A desk showing people looking at colour palette swatches on a desk.

The plastering

The next important step is to think about all the aspects of your brand your customers will come into contact with.

Plan a marketing strategy that details what your brand messages are and how they will be delivered. Think about writing a blog for your website, setting up email marketing campaigns, and what social media channels you want to be active on.

Your customer service offering is another important touchpoint for your brand. If a customer gets in touch with an enquiry or a complaint, how is it dealt with? What is your company policy for dealing directly with customers and how does it align with your brand values?

And finally, an often overlooked aspect of branding is packaging. If your customers are buying a physical product from your business, beautiful packaging can give you the chance to make a lasting impression. Also think about the impact on the environment of your packaging – more consumers are becoming eco-conscious.

The finishing touches

Just like your home, you’ll want to give your brand a fresh lick of paint every now and then. Keep your brand up-to-date and relevant to your customer base. Remember to check in with your foundations regularly – are you still targeting the right customers, is your product competing well in the market and are you true to your brand vision? Stay true to your brand values too, and you’ll build a brand your customers will keep coming back to.

Need some advice about branding? Contact us, we’re always happy to chat.

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