Branding 101

Building a brand with authority and flexibility


Building a brand takes years to develop and remains a constant breathing element of a company. A brand takes on many different stages as the business grows. It is the signature and standard of a company with what it stands for, looks, and feels like. It is the quintessential nomenclature of a product or business.

Building brands is not a one step process and varies between companies and sectors of businesses. When you start thinking about launching a company or building a brand, so many factors come into play. It is a multidimensional journey for the owners or founders of the brand. Establishing the core principles of what the business does, represents, and stands for is the first step toward building a recognizable brand.

A brand is the signature and standard of a company with what it stands for, looks, and feels like.

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Noteworthy brands are not known for any singular reason. Established brands are cohesive and whole. They have a product, a culture, a brand mission, a feel, and an identity. So often, we hear the terms “on brand” or “ brand identity.” This refers to the ability to recognize and consistently become familiar with a brand and face of a business or company easily and quickly.

Big brands spend millions of dollars a year purely for brand awareness. Coca-Cola has the most brand awareness of all, recognized by around 7.1 billion people across the globe. That’s a groundbreaking 94 percent of the world’s total population who recognize Coca-Cola as a brand! In turn, Coca-Cola spends around four billion dollars a year on advertising just to maintain their brand awareness.

To build a brand is an ongoing process which becomes a turnkey solution once established, as a vehicle to remind people of who the company is and what it does. Every company or business is essentially a brand.

There are many businesses that specialize in creating and designing brand identities. The look and feel of a brand is essential in communicating what the brand is. However, many small businesses do not have the budget for branding and are often on their own to come up with everything, including their brand identity and messaging.

The best thing the founder of a startup can do is identify the core principles of what the business does, then hire the best possible team for the initial design of the brand. The colors, texture, and style of the brand has to align with the product or business, and also has a subjective element.

Bringing together a few people who you can bounce ideas and images off of will help distinguish what you are designing or creating. At the end of the day, it is not about what you want it to look like, or what customers want it to look like. A brand must have appeal to become recognized consistently.

Start small. Ask a few key people you trust in your business or sphere of work to give their opinions. Hire a graphic designer who you can freely communicate with to help you with your initial logo and brand look based on what your business is. From there, the look and feel must remain consistent and evolve and grow as you grow in your business and establish yourself as a brand. Be open to other people’s suggestions without taking it personally and try to delineate what you like from what others prefer so you can meet on middle ground when you choose the initial feel of your brand. Ask yourself who your customer is, what the space is like, what the market offers, and who your competitors are. Building a brand is like writing a business plan. What you are bringing to market must be attractive and in demand.

Knowing what your product is and why it is needed in the world is an important step, especially something that will make life better or easier for others. From that place of knowing and conviction, you can take the next steps to begin your brand identity journey.

Brands are a living, breathing phenomena. When your business begins, it will look and feel categorically different than a few years down the line. Some of you have experienced this already, and many of you will eventually. Once your brand is established, your brand identity will mature and ripen, and you may even go through a complete rebranding after being established for many years.

The most important part of building a brand with flexibility and authority is to stay vigilant with how the market is changing, be open to your brand evolving, and maintain the core brand identity so people will recognize your brand as it grows and refines over time.

Trust your intuition, be open to change, and stay consistent. It sounds like a lot, but once you start the process, each step will lead you to the next if you take all these points into account.

Happy brand building and remember, all you need to do is make the world more beautiful than you found it!