Beginners guide to building your brand

6 tips on how to start your branding the right way

Strong Brands on Low Budgets

We have worked with many small businesses from start-ups to an 80-year-old independent shop. The one thing they all had in common was needing a direction to how they can build a strong brand.

This got us thinking, should we pull together a list of the brand essentials for a low budget start-up?  Hell, why not… So here it is, our guide on how to build a strong brand with a low budget.

Start Here: Who is your target audience?

Before you even look at paying for a logo (Yes, pay for a logo we’ll explain why), you should be understanding your target marketing and who your competitors are. This is a vital stage of any brand development as your logo and overall look of your business is built to speak to your target audience.

By researching your competitors you’re not only seeing how you can fit into the market, but you’ll also discover how you should stand out from the crowd with a USP (unique selling point). Finding your niche will help you figure out why your dream customer should buy from you instead of going to your competitor. Once you know that, then you can set up camp in your industry market.

Next: Who is your brand?

Yes, that isn’t a typo… who is your brand? At Loonar, we ask our clients to visualise their company as if it were a real living person. We use this tactic as it’s a way to visualise the “feel” of your business… We ask questions like: Is your company the type of person to speak causal? Do they wear trainers with a suit? Do they like sustainable living? Would they drive a fancy car or cycle to work? What sort of friends would they have? Do they welcome everyone, or would they only speak to members like a fancy rooftop bar?

Now: The logo

Assuming you already have a name after working through steps 1 & 2, you now have to create a logo. Your logo is the face of your company, it’s pretty important, and that bad boy is going to bring value to your business. We recommend before you do anything else, is to think about investing a good amount of your budget to designing the perfect logo for your business.

Of course, there are cheap ways of getting a logo, you can even create one on Canva for free if you really wanted to, but why would you want a logo that someone else has probably already used and doesn’t have much meaning behind it (oh and FYI you can tell a mile off that you used a template).

By hiring a designer, you are investing in a unique brand that will not only bring a LOT of value to your services/products, but it will also become a symbol of your reputation and community that will serve you for years to come. A logo can be both the name of your business and a symbol. It needs to be flexible for however you plan to use it and instantly recognisable. Take Adidas for example, if you see three stripes on an item of clothing you instantly know it’s an Adidas product before even seeing the full logo. That’s a well-designed brand right there.

You also don’t want your logo to be fussy or trying too hard, for instance, if Apple had their company name, “Apple” under the icon it just wouldn’t be as sleek or as valuable. Assume the public have enough intelligence to know what your logo is, you don’t always have to spell it out.

In short, your designer can design a logo with you in mind, that will work as your company and community grow. Hiring a designer is 100% an investment that will payout and you should AVOID CHEAP/FREE LOGOS at all costs.

Then: Your Brand Identity

You’ll often hear about your logo and brand identity. You’ve probably wondered what the difference is between the two but fear not, we will explain!

A brand identity is the company’s vibe – it’s your colours, fonts, tone of voice, image choice and over all feel. When you work with a designer you should receive a brand guide at the end of your design development. This guide should show you how to use your fonts, how to use your colours and the logo as well as other aspects of your brand.

It’s soooo important that you keep a consistent brand identity. It’s unbelievable how just a different colour blue to the blue in your brand guide will ruin the whole aesthetic of your company. It would be like Coca-Cola using a different coloured red, you just wouldn’t recognise the brand in the same way, same goes for Cadbury’s purple. Even a font change can throw off the whole brand identity so be strict with your design and be consistent right from the get-go.

Also Consider: Images & artwork

You will probably be using visuals for a lot of your marketing. Consider your images and artwork as an extension of your brand. Stock images are fine now again, you can actually get some really lovely ones for free from websites like Unsplash and Pexel. However, creating original high-quality content will always be the better option. Firstly – no one else will be using the same image or style, secondly – you don’t need to worry about copyright, and lastly –  you will be building a stronger and more recognisable brand.

Think about investing in a good camera, always be using HD sharp imagery (pixelated content will be your enemy). If you’re selling a product, look at tutorials on YouTube for tips on how to create easy backdrops and layouts for your content.

If you’re wanting to have some typographical content and you don’t have the budget to hire a designer, Canva is an amazing tool. To make a post unique, try and use your own images and find your brand font in the Canva library. You may have to look at buying the Pro version if you can’t find your font but that being said Canva is free to use and a great way to create content.

Finally: Marketing

This is something that you can throw money at left right and centre and see no results. Our advice is to plan what you are going to market. Think about what you are offering your audience and what benefit are they receiving from engaging in your content.

For social media growth, consider posting consistently to build up your followers. It can also be beneficial to plan each post and set a purpose for one. Posting for the sake of it will be no use to your followers or the time spent on creating that content. Really think about the message behind every post, what’s the purpose – is it helpful for your audience, is it to advertise your services/products, are you wanting to try and grow your followers with a competition? Each post should have an agenda and make it an interesting one for you and your followers.

But wait, you don’t think you have the time?

We know that your time is probably taken up by actually running your business and finding an hour or so to post frequently and consistently for your online marketing will be at the bottom of the list. But there is a way! There are loads of social media schedulers that will save you time by bulk posting and getting your posts out automatically. Spending an hour every two weeks to plan posts in advance will be a lifesaver.

At Loonar, we use Buffer. Unlike most schedulers Buffer can be free for a certain number of scheduled posts until you have to pay a monthly subscription. They connect to almost all social media platforms and even have a very useful podcast.

Other schedulers such as Hootsuite give you live feed from your profiles but come with a monthly fee from the get-go. Another one that is great for Instagram is Planoly, they offer an option to see your grid before you post so you can visualise your profile vibes.

So there it is, voila you have a guide on how to start a great brand. Obviously, hiring a professional to do the work is always going to deliver better results but if you are starting on a small budget or just want to see how you get on, then following these steps will help you build up a good foundation to grow your business!

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