If you are ready to start working on your brand, then this is for you. The following article talks about the four phases of creating your brand. These phases are for audience-based brands. If you want to learn more about what those types of brands are, take a look at my article on The different types of brands. While these phases can also be used to create the other types of brands, they would be in a slightly different order, so make sure you are familiar with your type of brand before proceeding further.
One other thing to keep in mind here. At the end of the day, your brand creation consists of two main parts... your strategy and your visuals. These are also known as your brand foundation and your brand identity (or visual identity). The visual identity is influenced and based on your strategy, so it makes sense for your strategy to come first. In the case of these four phases, the first three are all about strategy and the last is all about your identity. They are...
Position your brand
Build your core
Define your essence
Create your identity
POSITION YOUR BRAND
Brand positioning means defining your brand externally and finding out where your brand is in the marketplace. The position of your brand is not a physical location; it is a place inside your audience’s mind. The goal when creating your brand positioning is to ensure that this space belongs only to you and your audience knows who you are.
As such, this phase includes doing research into your audience, competitors, and awareness goals in order to understand them better and how to leverage them to your benefit.
Discover your target audience. A target audience is a particular group of people that your brand is aimed at. You want to know who your audience is in order to resonate with them and, more importantly, who your ideal client is. It’s hard to sell when you don’t know who you’re selling to.
Complete a market analysis. Focus on your competitors with the purpose of discovering who else is in your market. You can use this analysis to figure out what options your ideal client currently has and what is missing so that you can position yourself as the more attractive option to them.
Prepare your awareness goals. By creating awareness goals early on, you will be able to figure out where your target audience is hanging out and when so that you can ensure your message reaches them. This is the step that will help you turn your target audience into ideal clients.
Keep in mind that all of the information gathered during this stage is important in many other aspects of your brand including your content strategy, visual identity, website creation, and even going into marketing campaigns.
In addition, brand positioning is never done. As you work on other sections of your brand, you may find yourself coming back to this section, and as your brand evolves and grows over time, so will all of this.
BUILD YOUR CORE
Brand core means finding out what your brand is on the deepest levels. This is your foundation and the strongest part of your brand that is least likely to change over time. This does not, however, mean that it can’t change or evolve. As every person evolves, so does their brand. The brand core is the reasoning behind what you’re doing, and you use this when you begin to grow and expand.
Now that you know why you want to do it, here’s the how…
Define your brand purpose. Your brand’s purpose is the reason behind why your brand exists. What this means is defining your personal reasons behind creating your brand and relating them to a cause that your audience can connect with, so you can talk to your specific audience and attract only people with the same interests as you.
Outline your values. Your brand’s values are the specific elements that make your brand stand out against the competition and help your audience remember who you are. At this point, you are making your brand into a separate entity that your audience can connect and communicate with as they want to.
Reveal your vision and mission. Your brand’s vision is the big goal, the big idea, and what you want your brand to accomplish at its highest possible point. Your brand’s mission is the steps you will take to get to that final goal. What this means is, when combined, you will be creating the steps to take in order to achieve your dreams.
The purpose of creating a brand is to create an authentic experience for your clients. Having these in your brand core makes your audience more confident about your brand is and what it stands for. In order to make your brand more authentic, you want to break it down in a clear manner and communicate these to your audience. This does not mean you should outright go out and say, “this is my brand core!”, although there is nothing wrong with that per se.
The brand core process is usually the shortest of the three phases when creating a brand strategy. The reason for this is because the core consists of putting your ideas and thoughts into words. The basis for this work would have already been at least halfway completed while you contemplated the reason behind starting your entrepreneurial journey in the first place. On the other hand, some of the questions you have to ask yourself when creating your brand core can put you on a different path altogether and create a different foundation than what you had in mind.
DEFINE YOUR ESSENCE
Brand essence means finding out what your brand is on the surface. This is how your brand connects to your audience and speaks to the world. This is when you make your brand more human and turn it into a separate entity for your audience to interact with.
Now that you know why you want to do it, here's how…
Express your personality. Using your brand personality will help you learn what makes your brand human so it is easier for your audience to connect with and talk to it. This will also help you in discovering more about your audience’s personality and the actionable steps you can take to connect with them.
Find your voice and tone. Your brand’s voice is one and your tones are many. By finding them all, you will learn how to speak to your audience, so you can connect with them and they listen to you. In addition, you will get comfortable talking to your audience during any event, even a global pandemic.
Keep track of your language. What you say is as important as how you say it. By keeping track of your language, you will be able to create a communication style that is unique to you and turn it into a language style guide. In addition, you will be able to find the words that will get your entire brand message across to your audience.
When you create your brand, you want to be authentic and true to yourself, so you can build trust. Turning your brand into a separate entity for your audience to interact with, makes that easier. In addition, a lot of the information you get from your brand essence will heavily influence your marketing strategy, content strategy, and visual identity.
When you think about your essence, I want you to connect it back to all other parts of your brand. For example, blog articles are written language. You want your personality to show through in the way you write your article (are you excited when you write it?). You want your voice to remain the same for all articles you’re writing, but to throw in some different tones depending on the topics you’re covering. You also want to use the same language throughout the entire article and for all of your articles.
CREATE YOUR IDENTITY
Visual identity means the appearance of your brand. If your positioning, core, and essence are your brand strategy and the inside of your brand, then your visual identity is the outside and the first thing people see. This is how your audience recognizes you and how your brand connects with their subconscious and conscious decisions.
Now that you know why you want to do it, here's how…
Create your visual identity. Creating the main visuals for your brand will help you focus on the most common visual aspects including your logo, colours, and fonts. In addition, you will be able to use all of your visuals to not only represent your strategy but also connect each of your decisions to your audience, so you can draw them in.
Add on your elements. A visual identity consists of all visuals in your brand, not only your logo, colours, and fonts. As such, you want to choose additional visual elements that represent your brand and make you stand out, while also deciding how all of your information will be shown, including data, and other visual rules and cues.
Organize your assets. As you’re working on your brand and showing people who you are, it’s a good idea to know what you want to show when and where. Create your business collaterals and templates, so your audience can start memorizing who you are and combine your entire brand into a set of guidelines that you can refer to.
When you create your brand, you want to be authentic and true to yourself, so you can build trust. However, showing that can be hard without any visuals. Most people only look at the surface and if that grabs their attention, only then do they dig deeper into the meaning and story behind it. Your visuals will draw your audience in, and when they are based on your strategy, they will keep your audience and help convert some of them into paying clients. Your entire visual identity is based on your strategy, every single part of it. There is no design without thought behind it.
When you think about your visual identity, I want you to connect it back to every single part of your brand strategy. For example, your ideal client’s goals and desires can have an impact on what shapes and patterns you use in your brand. And since so much of your strategy is based on your audience, every single piece that you use from other parts of your brand strategy will connect back to your audience.
A COMPLETE BRAND!
Once you’re done with these phases, you’re done with your brand! Well, as you probably already know, your brand is never finished. But you have the foundation and everything to work on. From now on, work on your brand the same way you would on any other part of your business… update it, research it, and help it grow with you.
If you are looking for help on creating your audience-based brand following these phases, make sure to check out my course The Brand Framework. In it, you will go over each of the four phases and each of their three parts with multiple exercises, videos, examples, and support.