Branding: 9 expert tips to build your brand from scratch

7 minute read
Branding: 9 expert tips to build your brand from scratch

Depending on your experience, creating a new brand from scratch can either be really fun or really stressful. 

Or both.

But branding can be done step-by-step in a thoughtful way that results in something that connects with the customers you’re seeking.

A brand consists of:

  • Visuals, such as colors, logo, images, font, etc.
  • Tone of voice
  • Content
  • Online presence, such as website, social accounts, etc.
  • Influencer and other types of partnerships

The consistency and connection an effective brand can offer builds trust among consumers. About 81 percent of consumers say they need to be able to trust a brand before buying from it.

And first impressions matter. It only takes about 0.05 seconds for potential customers to form an opinion about your website.

The following are nine expert tips to help you build your brand from scratch. Or, if you’re considering leveling up your personal brand, check out our 10 tips.

Identify your target audience

This step is key for so many digital marketing tactics in general. But it’s especially crucial to consider whom you’re trying to reach when developing the core of your brand.

Having these ideal customers in mind (as well as their demographics, interests, challenges and so on) can help you make the biggest decisions in the smartest way possible.

See our seven tips to help you determine your target audience. Just remember that you want to get as specific as possible.

Conduct a competitive analysis

In other words, research your competition. The reasons may be obvious, but regardless, understanding your biggest competition shows you what’s already out there and what opportunities you could seize with your own brand.

It’s about being unique and relevant to potential customers.

Dive deeper into what a competitive analysis is and how you can start yours. In addition, check out these 16 tools that can help you with your research.

Of course, in this competitive analysis, you’ll want to focus on your competitors’ branding.

Determine your brand’s focus

It’s easy to get lost in your branding when you’re just starting out. Focus on what you know you do best and use that to create a mission statement, which can include:

  • Your brand’s products or services
  • Your target audience
  • What makes your brand unique
  • What problems your brand solves

Once you have a clear mission statement, you’ll want to share it everywhere, such as your website and social media accounts.

Define your brand’s personality

That’s right, personality. The most successful brands have a personality that’s appealing and relatable to their target audiences.

Of course, we don’t recommend choosing a personality out of thin air (and that can be pretty daunting anyway).

Think about the emotions your target audience is feeling when they’re looking for the solutions your brand can offer. Then, from there, you can identify the voice, language and content that can meet them where they are consistently.

Another trick is to consider the demographics of your target audience. You would address women in their 40s differently than you would teenage boys.

In addition, Shopify offers a brainstorming graphic to help you get started.

Dive deeper with our eight tips on finding your brand’s voice.

Once you land on a personality for your brand, consider it written in stone for consistency’s sake. Consistency is the currency of your branding. (Just know that’s it is fine for brands to evolve slowly over time.)

Name your brand

Some may start with a brand’s name. While it’s not wrong to do so, just make sure that if you already have a name in mind, it reflects your target audience, focus and personality of your developing brand.

If you’re starting from scratch, take a breath first. Your brand’s name is undoubtedly a big deal. It’s the first thing consumers will notice across multiple marketing channels and through interactions with your business. It also holds a critical impact on your logo and other branding assets. But don’t let all of that scare you.

The goal is to brainstorm what name would be clear, memorable and reflective of everything your brand encompasses. Naming considerations include:

  • Uniqueness
  • Memorability
  • Specific enough to be identifiable but broad enough to allow your business to expand into new products or services as it makes sense to do so
  • Domain name availability, which you can best address with our tips
  • Social media handle availability across platforms

When determining a name from scratch, the sky’s the limit truly. Brainstorm until you have at least 10 to 15 options that you like and then share with colleagues. What resonates most with them? If you notice a common thread with the most-liked options, you might want to conduct a second brainstorming session to really explore that thread further until you hit gold for your brand.

Decide on your brand’s colors and fonts

Color has a huge impact on your brand. It affects your website, logo and all other branded materials.

Using a signature color can increase brand recognition by about 80 percent.

Of course, before you simply pick your favorite color that you’ve loved since you were a kid, consider our breakdown of the influence colors have on digital marketing.

You also can check out this color emotion chart from The Logo Company.

Ideally, your colors help you stand out from your competition. That’s the goal.

When it comes to fonts, you can definitely go down a wormhole on all the available options. Just remember that you’re not picking a single font. You’ll want to identify several fonts to use in your:

  • Logo
  • Graphics
  • Headings
  • Body text

Again, consistency is key.

Create your brand’s slogan

While determining a name might be tough, nailing down your slogan can be just as difficult (if not more so).

Think Nike’s “Just Do It” or Walmart’s “Save Money. Live Better.” 

A slogan can help you spark interest in potential customers, while it also can help consumers remember your brand.

All that being said, a slogan is definitely optional but also highly recommended. Go through the same process you went through for your brand’s name and see what rises to the top. 

Keep in mind that a slogan can evolve over time (just like your brand’s personality). You just want it to be catchy enough to stick in consumers’ minds.

Check out this list of 100 brand slogans for inspiration.

Design your brand’s logo

Your logo is your brand’s most important visual asset and possibly even your most important piece of successful branding. It will appear everywhere.

Again, you want to be unique and memorable. It also should be scalable and have at least a couple of variations that make it flexible to use everywhere and on everything.

For example, if your main logo is text-only or text-based (which typically makes it more of a horizontal shape), consider creating an alternative square version. 

Different types of logos include:

  • Lettermark, which involves turning the initials of your business name into the logo
  • Wordmark, which only consists of your brand name (such as the Coca-Cola logo)
  • Icon, which only consists of a graphic and makes the most sense for previously established, well-known brands (such as the Twitter bird logo)
  • Abstract, which are made up of different shapes and colors
  • Emblem, which are typically a circular shape with both text and an emblem (such as the BMW logo)
  • Mascot, which includes an illustration of your brand’s mascot if you have one (such as the Wendy’s logo)
  • Combination, which incorporates various styles of logos into one logo (such as the McDonald’s logo)

If you’re not a graphic designer, you can definitely hire one, or consider trying one of these 11 free graphic design tools for the non-designer.

Develop your branded content

Branded content comes in so many different forms and types. Whether it’s a video series on YouTube, a weekly blog post on your website, or something else, the content you create should serve a purpose: to connect with your target audience.

Check out our seven tips to level up your content marketing. Also, consider incorporating premium content into your strategy for lead generation and more.

In conclusion

Once you’ve determined all the critical elements that comprise your brand, we recommend documenting everything in a brand style guide. Not only will it help you stay consistent over time, but it makes it easy to communicate your branding elements to others on your team so that they can properly reflect your brand as well.

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