When you think of branding your mind probably jumps right to identity. You know, the logo, the colours, all that jazz. Ten years ago that may have covered your branding basics.
But in the age of entrepreneurship, the basics of branding are far from basic.
It’s not enough to just have a brand identity. You must commit to the process of becoming a brand. All businesses, no matter the size, must learn to think like a brand.
Here's what we'll cover
WHAT BRANDING MEANS TODAY
Chances are you know at least 3 people who have a side-hustle or work for themselves. Technology has made starting a business so bloody easy and attainable that in the U.S. alone, 78.5% of all businesses are truly small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. That’s bananas!
When you consider that there are tens of millions of small businesses in the States alone PLUS most online businesses deal with customers and clients all over the world—there’s a glaring takeaway we, entrepreneurs, must be mindful of: there’s A LOT of competition.
What branding means today for us solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and side-hustlers is comparable to how big businesses has been approaching it for decades. In order to compete, connect, and stay relevant, we must put more focus on the entire brand experience surrounding our business.
IS BRANDING IMPORTANT—Even for a Side-Hustle?
Anyone who wants to generate regular sales will need to compete with the best of em. Side-hustlers, companies-of-one, small teams—most of us exist in the same shopping centre. It’s big and it’s called the Internet.
To effectively grow your business you need to know how to:
stand out in a sea of brands
captivate in a matter of seconds
be memorable enough to occupy space in their minds
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With so many other businesses for your ideal customers to choose from, if you haven’t resonated with them or effectively proved that you are the only one who can solve their problem—they’ll just as easily try the next business.
The thing is, all of this becomes so much easier to do when your business has a brand strategy to filter everything through. It’s like having a user manual that’s exclusive to your business.
The basics of branding aren’t complicated, they’ve just gotten a bit more comprehensive.
"The internet and technology in general have made it possible for nearly anyone with an idea to start and market a business."
- John Hall, Forbes, Here’s How Entrepreneurship Has Evolved in Recent Years
THE BRANDING BASICS NO SMALL BUSINESS OWNER CAN LIVE WITHOUT
Ditch that old branding checklist. Here’s what your small but mighty business needs to focus on to really thrive in the age of entrepreneurship:
1. Mission Statement
A succinct statement that guides your day-to-day operations to keep you grounded and aligned.
2. Vision Statement
A future-focused statement that acts as your north star as you grow and evolve your business.
3. Core Values
The guiding principles of your business that are likely shared with your ideal clients or customers.
4. Brand Positioning
How and where your brand exists in the mind of your target audience in relation to the competition.
5. Brand Voice
The tone and personality that is woven throughout your brand to attract your future clients or customers.
6. Problem vs Solution
Clarity on the functional, emotional, and self-expressive problems your audience has and the direct solutions you offer.
7. Brand Benefits
The various benefits your business has to offer your clients or customers.
8. Value Proposition
Your brand promise phrases in a captivating statement that speaks to the emotional benefit your audience will receive from buying from you.
It may seem like a lot but let me tell you, it’s just the right amount.
This age of entrepreneurship is a beautiful thing. The game may be a bit harder but that’s half the fun. We get to push ourselves in ways that surprise us and allow us to grow.
Working to truly establish these eight branding basics will force you to reflect on your business in new ways. And this leads to an all to often overlooked outcome of the branding process: clarity!
You know the quote, “it’s about the journey, not the destination”? Well, the same goes for branding.
The branding journey delivers more clarity and cohesion than a beautifully curated colour palette will. The process teaches you to think like a brand.
STRUCTURAL BRANDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS
The branding journey is a revelation but it requires three things:
No. 1 - TIME
Good things take time but so few of us prioritize time to tackle the things that don’t come naturally to us.
No. 2 - COMMITMENT
A small step for brand-kind is what your business deserves. You need to be ready to commit to the process. There’s work to be done and there are no shortcuts.
No. 3 - COLLABORATION
It’s hard to read the label from inside the jar. You can’t realize your brand from inside the business just like you can’t see the forest through the trees. It’s always best to have someone who sees what you cannot.
Before you even think about how your brand will look, you need to know who you are in the most concise and holistic way and this requires structural branding—aka your foundation.
This foundation is built from the eight branding basics above. It gives a voice to your story, a framework for decision-making, and shows you exactly who you are as a brand.
And here’s the best part: You don’t have to hire a brand strategist to start building your own foundation. The Brand Discovery Workshop™ was designed to help passionate souls and aspiring entrepreneurs an affordable avenue to think like a brand as they realize their own.
This self-led course uses the strategies of Brand Discovery to give you those critical building blocks needed for growth. All of the basics of branding that businesses need to thrive in the age of entrepreneurship are achieved through this intuitive course.
With over 170 strategically designed questions and 15 easy to digest video lessons, you’ll feel more connected to your brand because you helped write the script.
Stop delaying what you know your business deserves. The Brand Discovery Workshop™ is exactly what you need to feel more confident and connected to your brand direction.
When you have clarity on your purpose, your people, and your path—you become empowered in business!
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.