How to Brand (Part 1)


Before we go into too much detail about branding or re-branding your business, let’s talk briefly about what we mean by “brand” in the first place.

In his article “What is a Brand Anyway?” published by Forbes, Jerry McLaughlin says, “Put simply, your ‘brand’ is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.” Every visual aspect of your business — logo, website, ads, billboards, signage, videos, packaging, employees, etc. — hinges upon how you want your customers to feel when they encounter your name.

Building a brand sounds fun, right? Deciding on logos, colors, designs and messaging is the exciting part of marketing. But what good is a new vehicle if we don’t know in which direction we’re going? Branding takes planning and lots of it.

Ideation & Investigation

To determine the direction of the company, we need goals and objectives. What is our desired culture based on our target audience? How do our experiences, reputation and relationships affect our culture? What effect would we like them to have on our brand? What are we good at? What do we need to work on? Where do we see ourselves in five years?

Obviously, the questions can be a bit overwhelming. So, a good place to start is with a SWOT analysis to determine your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal characteristics; opportunities and threats depend on external sources. From this grid, you can then establish preliminary goals, both short and long-term.

Another helpful exercise involves making four lists: adjectives to describe your company today, nouns to describe our company today, adjectives to describe your ideal company, nouns to describe your ideal company. Each list is composed of single words and once you’re done, choose the top five words in each list. Then combine today’s adjectives and nouns as well as tomorrow’s to get a clear picture of who you are and where you want to go.

The key to all of this is to write it down. Make lists, take notes, draw pictures, whatever you have to do to get your thoughts down on paper. Branding doesn’t happen in one day, so you don’t want to spin your wheels by constantly regenerating the same ideas. Always pick up where you left off to keep the ideas flowing.

Stay tuned for Step 2.