There are many things to consider when starting out and building your brand. You want to stand out and above all become trusted by a loyal customer base.
The basics for creating your brand…
This has to be the first question to ask. Not what you do but why you do it. Only when you start to really understand your ‘why’ can you build true passion for your brand. You might sell clothing made with cashmere wool, which equates to ‘We sell the finest cashmere wool clothing’ but dig further and consider ‘why’. You might say “Our cashmere wool is the softest in the world, we want everyone to feel that incredible luxury right next to their skin”. This could be shortened to “luxury for your skin”. So you can see that the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what’ for defining your brand.
Now you need absolute clarity in terms of what you do. If someone asks you what you do, you need to be able to answer in exactly the same way every time. Take your clothing, what colours do you stock, what styles. Is there a certain style trend or era? Really think about what your product is.
How do you fulfil your ‘why’? You want everyone to feel the luxury next to their skin but how do you do that? How do you make sure that they are getting the best? Maybe you grow the goats yourself or you scour the UK for cashmere goat farmers (there are some!). Then how is the wool spun and turned into garments? The answers to this might well give you some more ‘whys’.
Who – you need to do a lot of research?
Know your market. Only once you know your customer can you truly create branding that they will come to love. You need to know who they are, what they do, what age group they are. Not only that but you need to understand their interests and hobbies, where do they go for holidays, what do they read? Where do they shop now? It is only by building a complete profile of your customer that you will come to fully understand them and know what they will appreciate in terms of your product and your branding. Again, this information will be fundamental in creating your ‘why’.
Take a look at the others
Have you ever heard someone say “well we don’t really have any competitors, we are a niche company and nobody else does what we do”? I am afraid this is complete rubbish and very naive, everyone has competitors. To be fair I hear this most often in the consultancy sector, where there will always be another way to do things and another person doing it.
Every luxury item of clothing purchased is money that could have been spent on one of your creations. You might be the only people selling 1970s style cashmere jumpers in Allegro mustard but there are 100’s of companies out there selling yellow jumpers!
Find out where your competitors are positioning themselves, what is their unique offering and who are they talking to? How do they communicate with their customers, what is their price point and what kind of service do they provide? Become a customer for yourself to experience their quality, value and service. It is only then that you will really see what problems they encounter, will it be the same for you? Maybe you can’t buy from them, so draw up a list of their strengths and weaknesses. Do this for several of your competitors and you might find some common areas of weakness upon which you can capitalise and grow your brand.
What makes you different?
What are you famous for? What do you bring to the table that your competitor does not? When you clearly understand why you do what you do, you will be naturally different. You need to discover this and use it to your advantage.
How are you useful? How do you really help your customers or others? What does your company do to go the extra mile?
It is all about your Unique Selling Point or USP, it can be hard to define and it absolutely must be true.
Again, it is all about research and finding what your competitor lacks. Did you have a background in farming before you launched this company? Your business experience and that of your colleagues will undoubtedly bring a great deal to the table and this is what needs to be identified. The act of showing a side of you that competitors would not normally show will make you stand out.
Your USP needs to be something that your customers understand. So ideally it will be something that they want or need, then it has a value. If your niche is in luxury clothing then your sideline in underwater basket weaving will not bring much value to the table, whereas your background in fashion design should be shouted from the rooftops!
Have your story and keep it consistent. You will have a story of where your company came from and why you created it. There will always be individuals behind a great company, do not be afraid to be human. The idea is that your customers will come to associate with your brand and in time become proud to do so.
Brand Aesthetics and Feel
Tone of Voice
Always keep your ideal customer in mind and your tone will flow naturally. Look at how other brands set their tone.
Once you have decided how you will sound you will be able to develop how you will look. A lighthearted company might be looking for a light and young font. A luxury upmarket product will need a classic font for their branding.
Pick a colour style that will not easily date. Something that is in vogue today will probably not be next year. Go for classic colours that will take your branding through the next few years.
Some of the most successful logos in the world are very simple type written in the right font. You might not necessarily need any fancy graphics in your logo. Your logo is not your brand, it is only a small part of it. After this you will need to consider the photography that you use and how that will form part of the brand. Some brands have used photography so consistently in their branding that they are recognisable from a single image without people even needing to see their logo.
In summary it’s all about finding the right messages and to do that you need to ask yourself and your customers a lot of questions. You need to completely understand your brand identity before you can start creating logos, designing websites and producing other marketing material. Branding has to come first.