What is a brand?
Simply put, your brand is defined by a customer‘s overall perception
of your business.
The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, says it even better: ―Your brand
is what other people say about you when you‘re not in the room.‖
Your brand is your reputation!
In today‘s market, a successful brand has to be consistent in
communication and experience, across many applications:
• Environment (storefront or office)
• Print collateral, signage, packaging
• Website & online advertising
• Content publishing
• Sales & customer service
Now, brand building being simple? The truth is: branding doesn‘t
happen overnight…or even in a few months.
Building a brand is definitely a process. However, the ongoing
effort will result in establishing long-term relationships with your
This can lead to a steady increase in sales, more projects, word-of-
mouth referrals, and advocacy for your products or services.
How to Build a Brand
1. Discover the purpose behind your brand. 2. Research competitor brands within your industry. 3. Determine your brand‘s target audience. 4. Establish a brand mission statement. 5. Outline the key qualities and benefits your brand offers. 6. Form your brand voice. 7. Let your brand personality shine. 8. Build a brand story and messaging. 9. Create a brand logo and tagline. 10. Integrate your brand into every aspect of your business. 11. Stay true to your brand building.
What is brand building?
The definition of brand building is to generate awareness about your
business using marketing strategies and campaigns with the goal of
creating a unique and lasting image in the marketplace.
Positive impression + standing out = brand success.
In 2020, the amplification of your brand image can be done
effectively through various digital marketing activities:
• User Experience (i.e. your website)
• SEO & Content Marketing
• Social Media Marketing
• Email Marketing
• Paid Advertising (PPC)
Together, these channels are fundamental to gaining brand awareness
and growth. We‘ll dive into each of these elements in detail, later!
I simplified the path for a brand building process below, to help
your business brand or personal brand gain a more loyal following.
Are you wondering where to start?
Use these steps as a guide for how to build a brand!
How to Build a Brand
1. Discover the purpose behind your brand.
Every successful brand has a powerful purpose behind it.
And so should you.
It‘s what you wake up every day loving to do for other people (and
the world) through your product or service.
There are four questions you should ask yourself when defining a
• Why do you exist?
• What differentiates you?
• What problem do you solve?
• Why should people care?
You‘ll use these ideas to inform the foundation of your branding,
through a tagline, slogans, voice, messaging, stories, visuals and
more. So dig deep and find those nuggets of truth which can
distinguish your brand from others. Leadership expert Simon Sinek,
developed an impactful model called The Golden Circle (he‘s also the
author of Start With Why—this book is excellent to read or listen to
The Golden Circle concept can help in identifying the purpose behind
anything in business or life, really
The 3 Parts to The Golden Circle:
• What – the products or services you offer to your customers
• How – the things that differentiate you from the competition
• Why – the reason you are passionate and why you exist
In fact, in the video you‘ll see below, Sinek explains how to truly
differentiate a brand when most of them fail.
I‘ve probably watched this presentation over a hundred times, and
still get chills when I do. It‘s one that I send to all clients
prior to our kick-off meeting for the brand discovery phase.
Some people in the marketing industry think it‘s overrated, but I
disagree. It‘s inspiring, certainly if you are new to branding a
business or idea. And, there‘s a reason why it‘s one of the most
popular TED talks of all time.
Sit back and take a look
―People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.
The goal is not to do business with everybody that needs what you
The goal is to do business with people who believe what you
– Simon Sinek
You too can use The Golden Circle as a starting point to identify
your unique brand purpose.
2. Research competitor brands within your industry.
You should never imitate exactly what the big brands are doing in
But, you should be aware of what they do well (or where they fail).
The goal is to differentiate from the competition. Convince a
customer to purchase from you over them!
We‘re always thinking about how to make a brand stand out from
what‘s out there already. Don‘t skip this step in the brand building
Research your main competitors or benchmark brands. For instance,
study how well they have gone about building a brand name.
For a brand name to be effective, it needs to be easy for consumers
to recognize and remember.
Creating a brand competitor research spreadsheet
Competitor research is a key element of your own brand development.
Start by creating a brand competitor spreadsheet for comparison. You
can use Google Sheets, Excel, or even just a notebook.
Then, answer these fundamental questions.
• Is the competitor consistent with messaging and visual
identity across channels?
• What is the quality of the competitor‘s products or services?
• Does the competitor have customer reviews or social
mentions you can read about them?
• In what ways does the competitor market their business, both
online and offline?
Choose a few competitors, two to four (2-4) is a good number for
your comparison chart. You might want to take a look at other local
businesses, or even aim to benchmark against name brand
3. Determine your brand‘s target audience.
The foundation for building your brand is to determine the target
audience that you‘ll be focusing on.
When brand building, keep in mind who exactly you are trying to
reach. You‘ll tailor your mission and message to meet their exact
The key is to get specific. Figure out detailed behaviors and
lifestyle of your consumers.
I‘ll explain with a few brief examples.
• Instead of ―all Moms‖, you could narrow down the niche to hone in on ―single Moms who work full-time from home‖.
• ―Techy people‖ is too broad. But ―tech-savvy early adopters who manage a large team‖ can narrow the focus in.
• If you are targeting ―college kids‖, there is definitely room to get more specific. An example could be: ―college students studying abroad in Europe during the summer‖.
• ―Anyone who needs a job‖ is certainly not a niche target market. However, ―retirees looking to return to the workforce in an executive position‖ can be!
As you can see, targeting a niche requires committing to something
very focused to start.
You‘ll come to realize that the competitive advantage when branding
your business is to narrow your target audience focus. This can
help ensure that your brand message comes across crystal clear to
the intended recipient.
Solidify a picture of your consumers, then learn how to create a
brand identity that they can understand and relate to.
Your Brand Buyer Persona
Brand creation relies on truly understanding the buyer persona. Here
are a few of the things to document when describing your ideal
• Education Level
To get even more definition for your brand‘s buyer persona, dive
into these details:
• Pain points
• Brand affinities
Identifying the target audience for your services or products is an exercise that will affect and benefit all areas of your brand building process, particularly marketing efforts. You want the right person consuming your content, clicking on your ads, opting in to your email list, etc.
As a result, determining the ideal audience for your business will
support your overall digital brand building strategies. It‘s
definitely an important first step!
4. Establish a brand mission statement.
Have you thought about your brand mission? In essence, you‘ll have
to craft a clear expression of what your company is most passionate
This is your why; the reason you get up every day.
Before you can build a brand that your target audience trusts, you
need to know what value your business provides.
The mission statement basically defines a purpose for existing. It
will inform every other aspect of your brand building strategies.
Everything from your logo to your tagline, voice, message, and
personality should reflect that mission.
When people ask you what you do: answer them with your brand mission
You can use the information gathered from The Golden Circle exercise
(see Step 1) to create a clear
Brand Building Examples: Nike
We all know the Nike tagline: Just Do It. But do you know their
Nike‘s mission is: ―To bring inspiration and innovation to every
athlete in the world―.
You can see the Nike mission everywhere. They focus on all types of
athletes using Nike products to be their best selves.
Nike goes even further with its brand mission, by adding a footnote
to the statement: ―If you have a body, you are an athlete―. Think
about how wide their target audience becomes with a disclaimer like
The company has built up such a reputation and brand following, that
it‘s able to increase the target to accommodate every ―body‖.
When branding your business, start small and remember to focus on
your target niche audience first.
With time, your brand loyalty may grow enough to expand your reach.
Let‘s take a step back for a minute. Before crafting your brand
mission statement, gut check on whether you really committed to Step
3 of determining who your exact consumer is. It‘s one of the most
important branding process steps of them all
5. Outline the key qualities & benefits your brand offers.
There will always be brands with bigger budgets and more resources
to command their industry.
Your products, services, and benefits belong solely to you.
Starting a brand that is memorable means you dig deep to figure out
what you offer, and no one else is offering.
Focus on the qualities and benefits that make your company branding
Assuming you know exactly who your target audience is (see Step 3),
give them a reason to choose your brand over another.
It‘s important to note that this is not just a laundry list of the
features your product or services offer to the customer or client.
Think about how you provide value that improves consumers‘ lives
(outcomes or results that are experienced).
Here are a few examples:
• More authentic and transparent customer service
• A better way to support productivity
• Reducing costs with a more affordable option
• Saving time on daily tasks
Brand Building Example: Apple
Apple is obviously not just another computer company. One of their
key qualities is a clean design, and a key benefit is ease of use.
From unique packaging to their announcement events, Apple always
reminds customers that its products can be used right out of the
Do you remember Apple‘s slogan back in 1997-2002? It was ―Think
Different―. This notion continues to exist, today
6. Form your unique brand voice.
Your voice is dependent on your company‘s mission, audience, and
It‘s how you communicate with your customers, and how they respond
A brand voice could be:
There are endless adjectives and possibilities that can build a
brand voice behind your messaging.
Ultimately, you want to choose a brand voice that makes sense and
resonates with your target customers. (Again, going back to Step 3!)
You‘ll see that if you find and use the correct brand voice, you
have the strongest chance of connecting with consumers.
This is particularly important when publishing blog articles or
social media posts. Maintaining a consistent voice will help your
brand image become recognized on multiple channels in the same way.
A community of followers, readers or subscribers will come to expect
a certain brand voice and brand personality when they consume your
content (see the next step).
Brand Building Examples: Virgin America
Virgin America is known for its friendly and reliable customer
service, and its voice constantly builds that brand.
7. Let your brand personality shine.
Customers aren‘t looking for another cookie-cutter company that
offers the same thing as everyone else.
They are looking for an experience tailored to their needs, backed
by genuine personal interaction.
Wondering how to brand your business in a unique way? Make your
personality stand out in every aspect of your brand building
Be consistent with this brand personality across all points of
It can be as simple as:
• A conversational voice in communication (using ―I‖, and ―you‖)
• Sharing behind-the-scenes content
• Telling stories about real experiences
• Describing your products/services in a quirky manner
8. Build a brand story and messaging.
When building a brand, tell customers succinctly who you are.
Use the business voice you have chosen for your brand.
Your messaging should be intricately associated with your brand and
This part of the brand development process goes beyond your logo and
tagline to define the key aspects of:
• Who you are
• What you offer
• Why people should care
A brand story is an opportunity to communicate on a human level,
making a direct emotional connection with your consumers.
What this means, is that the language you use should be understood
immediately while striking an emotional chord.
Make it simple and clear.
Most importantly: when creating a brand story, address not what your
product can do…but why it is important to your customer.
Brand Building Example: TOMS Shoes
TOMS Shoes has built a huge social following and overwhelming
positive brand perception.
They clearly define their message front and center on their
website: ―Improving lives. With every product you purchase, TOMS
will help a person in need. One for One.‖
This story is carried out through every touchpoint a consumer has
with the brand.
9. Create a brand logo & tagline.
When you think about how to build a brand, visuals probably come to
mind first. We haven‘t even talked about these until this deep into
the branding process!
This step may be the one where you need help with creative
The most exciting (and arguably the most important piece) of the
brand building process, is to create a brand logo and tagline for
This logo will appear on everything that relates to your business.
It will become your identity, calling card, and the visual
recognition of your promise.
So be willing to invest the time and money by creating something
exceptional to reinforce the visual identity for your business.
Need help branding your business? Hire a professional designer
or branding agency with logo and identity design experience, to help
make your brand stand out.
Their expertise will ensure that you get a unique and timeless mark
for your business.
A designer can also develop brand guidelines, to ensure consistency
for any future application of the logo and associated brand color
palette or fonts.
A strong brand style guide will include the following things:
• Logo size and placement
• Color palette
• Typography and fonts
• Photography/image style
• Web elements
10. Integrate your brand into every aspect of your business.
The brand building process never stops.
Your brand should be visible and reflected in everything that your
customer can see, read, and hear.