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Basic Branding: How to Create a Brand Identity
First things first.... Who are you marketing to?
Before you can successfully create a brand identity for your business - even at a basic level - you'll need to sit down and figure out who your target demographic is. Otherwise you'll be creating a brand that is doomed to fail.
Sure, every one on earth could benefit from what you have to offer them, but the reality is that not everyone will be interested in what you are offering, even if they really need it.
Not to mention, just about every successful brand has become successful because they catered to a target demographic. Coke is the classic drink because it was the first official cola brand. Pepsi goes for the younger generations because it's different from the first generation. Walmart caters to those who have a low budget. Hubpages hits home with freelance writers. The list goes on.
And just because they cater their message and image towards their demographic, doesn't mean they loose out on potential clients from other demographical categories. It simply means they are maximizing on their strengths. There are still plenty of youngsters who prefer coke over pepsi and plenty of wealthy folks who like to shop at walmart.
So when you sit down to figure out your target demographic, think about who would be more likely to take advantage of your services or your products. Would they between 18 and 25? 45 and 65?
Is your product up fairly expensive or above the low budget folks? You'll need to know this, so that you can market your brand to those that can actually afford to buy what you are offering them. If you aren't sure what income your target demographic has, then you'll need to do some market research on the best prices or rates for your services or products. Get out there and see what people are paying for these services or products from others. Then chop that in half, and that is where you should start your prices. From there you'll know how much 'extra' people will need in their budgets in order to take advantage of what you are offering.
To finish zeroing in on your target demographic, get as much information about them as you can. Think about who would buy what you have.
What climate do they live in?
How old are they?
How much do they make a year?
Do they live more in apartments or houses?
Are they rural or urban dwellers?
Do they have kids or should they be single?
How do they like their coffee?
Go as far into detail as you can go. To give you an example, when I created my business Sorbile, I sat down and thought about who my target demographic is. I spend most of my time creating tee-shirts and accessories that are funny, cannabis related, spiritually involved or political. I know that I would be much better able to identify with my peers in taste and style, so that helped me get a basic idea of what demographics to target.
Avg Age: 18 to 35
Income: $30,000 to $60,000
Likes: Cannabis, Humor, Spirituality, Freedom, Social Marketing, Activism
Dislikes: War, Boredom, Rigidity, Taxes, Constraint, Conformity
Most are parents
Most live in single family homes or condos
Most are libertarian or liberal conservatives
Most prefer their coffee with lots of creamer, some whipped cream and maybe some sprinkles....
Whats in a name...
The name you pick for your venture or company, can make or break you. If you have a really long name, you'll want a catchy acronym, but even then, a short easy to say word always wins the blue ribbon.
I try to pick business names that are fewer then three words, that have open domain names and that roll off the tongue easily. Sorbile, Gnomical, Stubborn Husband, NBP, Auction Rage. These are all short, easy to remember and kind of fun to say. Which means they do well as brands.
Spend some time with one eye in a dictionary and one in a thesaurus. Try and come up with a business name that makes you feel good when you say it. It should be somewhat melodic when said, and should be memorable. It should also be a name that relates to your business. It doesn't have to directly relate to your venture, but it must be within reason. Sorbile works well for my cafepress store because it means something that is fit to be drunk, which means that it tastes good or makes a person feel good. My designs make people feel good, so sorbile fits very well.
Create Message or Mission
Your brand message is the image you send out to grab the attention of your demographic. Your message becomes your "image" which becomes your brand identity. So you want your message to have a theme that caters to your target demographic. In my business, I am focusing on Generation's X,Y and Z themes. So I want my message to capture the attention of the people in those generations.
Think about your target demographic and what sort of way you could make your message appear most attractive to them. What color would they like best? Would they prefer something easy on the eyes or something more complex? If you need your message to say "Look At Me!" it will need to be big, bold and fascinating. If you want your message to say, "we won't cheat you", you should stick with something simple, truthful and open.
Remember; creating your message will take a little bit of time, so remember that you can change it a few times along the way. The more important part is to pick something to start with for now, so that you have a place to go from later.
Now that you have a target demographic, a name and a message - it's time to get into the madness of logo designing.
You can always decide to higher a professional designer to put together your logo, but in most cases they will still want your vision. So take some time to sit down and suss out a logo for your business.
Your logo can be your business name with a tag line. It could be a symbol such as an animal, hybrid animal, mythological creature, a shape or something completely abstract. You want your logo to be visually appealing and as simple as you can make it, while still connecting with your audience.
Testing - testing - is this thing on?
Even when you are just starting out at a basic level, you'll need to test your brand before you can make it your official brand. Get out there and show off your logo, talk about your message and meet with those that you feel would be most interested in your services.
Figure out what has worked so far and what hasn't. Change around the things that have worked and keep what has been doing well so far. Play around with your image/message and your logo. Find out what ways you can play off of your name or your theme. Once you have done this a few times, you now have a basic brand.
Spend some time developing it, marketing it and fine tuning it along the way to help build your brand up even more. Most brands are forever a work in progress, so don't beat yourself up to badly if it takes a little while to get your brand identity completely figured out.
Whats the one thing that is more important than the brand itself?
What you do with that brand!
You can spend all your time working to brand your company or venture, but it won't do anyone any good unless you get out into the world and make sure they know about your brand. The promoting process should have already starting while you were creating your brand, but now that you have a basic brand, you need to get out there make it a household name,
Promote your brand, advertise for your brand, talk about it, write about it. Heck, write your third cousin twice removed and tell them about it. Tell everyone about your brand until people start telling you about your brand. Then you can take a break.