Updated: Aug 19
After working with over 40 businesses to bring their brands to life, there are a few important lessons to know before embarking on developing your own brand. Consider this a quick crash course on branding your business with purpose.
1. DON’T have just one logo → DO have a range of logos
One single logo won’t do your business any favours. Consider all of the various places your logo will need to exist. Sometimes it’s a shallow but wide website header, other times it's a tiny app icon. Having a range of logos to support your brand identity gives your brand versatility.
With a series of logo designs at your disposal, you can display your brand prominently in every potential placement without losing legibility. It ensures your brand is always recognizable and never boring.
2. DON’T design a brand for you → DO design it with them in mind
One of the biggest mistakes first time business owners make is they design a brand that is led by their own personal preferences. But you’re not trying to earn your business. Your brand is intended to appeal and attract your ideal clients and customers. If you haven’t invested any time to understand what your customers are looking for from a business like you, your brand, as a result, will do your business more harm than good.
So be sure to spend time developing a nuanced understanding of your ideal customer (use this free template to help guide the process). From your brand colour choices to the imagery and overall tone of your brand, spend the time to strategize the best moves for your brand and business.
3. DON’T be trendy → DO be your own trendsetter
Be sure, as you develop your brand, that you aren’t putting all of your eggs in one trendy basket. Trends typically do more harm than good for a brand because they are focused on short-term gains.
Trends come and go, but what really works is a consistent brand. In order to build brand awareness and loyalty, it's important to focus on the things that will support your business. Find an approach that feels right to you and stick with it. You’ll be amazed by how acting consistently and authentically will boost your brand awareness and grow your following.
4. DON’T focus on the solution → DO focus on the result
Here’s a mindset shift for your brand: paint a crystal clear picture of how your customers will feel after they use your product or service. That’s what will really pique their interest. Your brand’s narrative needs to present your audience something they can easily imagine for themselves.
Nobody gets jazzed up about a specific product or service—they want to understand the feeling, the result that comes from said product. So make a list of the secondary problems your business solves: these are the emotional problems and the deeper subconscious problems.
It’s those intangible things that we are far more likely to hand over our hard earned money to receive.
5. DON’T take the easy route → DO be bold and claim your space
Push yourself to go beyond what feels safe. If you’re following in the footsteps of everyone else, you won’t make a splash! Instead, boldly claim what you want to achieve, where you want to go and why it matters. Strategize for the best possible outcome. Those are the brands that get noticed because they offer something new. Or, at the very least, they present the same in a new way.
Jasmine Bina said it well: "A good brand strategy will force you to make difficult decisions." It’s big risk, big reward. But when you’re willing to carve out your space in the market, in a strategic and intentional way, the right people will notice. And those people will help your brand to thrive!
6. DON’T over complicate things → DO keep things simple
I’m all for less is more! When it comes to your brand, simplicity is the name of the game. This doesn’t mean basic, this means focus your mission, your message, and your offer to one central theme. The same goes for your brand identity. Establish your brand colours, typography and image style and set out to create brand guidelines to maintain consistency.
Between your brand strategy and your brand guidelines, running your brand and business becomes far simpler. It also allows your brand to grow in a logical and intuitive way. Simplify your goals, simplify the process.
7. DON’T speak to everyone → DO speak to a select few
We all know the quote by now: when you sell to everyone, you’re really selling to no one. Don’t strive to appeal to the vast majority by proclaiming to be a Jack of all trades, you’ll just get washed away in a sea of other brands. Instead, niche down, claim your space and become the go-to specialist rather than a generalist.
People will pay more for someone who specializes over someone who seems to do it all. Have one person in mind as you write your copy, as you plan your offers, and create your content. This makes consumers feel like you’re speaking to them and it will support the growth of your business.
8. DON’T just plan for tomorrow → DO think long-term
If you want to avoid a future rebrand, it’s so important to think long-term. If you’re focusing too much on the present—your next campaign, your next offer—without a long-term vision, you’ll find you’re often back at the drawing board trying to make a new plan.
Brand strategy is all about the big picture planning. It allows you to factor in your goals and use the here and now to build towards those goals in a logical way. Not to mention that all businesses naturally evolve. And spending time planning for change in the beginning will help you to stay clear on an unnecessary and costly future rebrand.
9. DON’T rush the process → DO invest in the process
What business doesn’t want long-term success? I know it can seem like six to nine weeks is a long time to develop your brand, but TRUST ME, it’s so worth it!
Good things take time. If you want a truly authentic brand, one that empowers your business, you need to invest in the process. The branding journey is like a pseudo-therapy session for your brand. It teaches you how to be the best version of your business and provides tools and strategies to better serve your customers and clients.
If you rush the process, you’ll only end up with a brand that is underwhelming and ineffective. And frankly, you’ll be forced to repeat the process down the road, further confusing your audience and losing the momentum you could have had, had you invested the time to do it right the first time.
Let’s recap the DOs of branding your business:
Have a range of logos for brand versatility
Design with your customers in mind
Be your own trendsetter
Focus on the results your customers or clients will get
Be bold and claim your space in the market
Keep things simple
Speak to a select audience
Invest in the process
Jenny Henderson is a brand strategist and business mentor. She collaborates with service-based solopreneurs to design memorable brands that allow them to make a living doing what they love. Since 2020, her branding studio has become a place where small business owners learn to think like a brand.