What is a brand?
The meaning of a brand has evolved. Eons ago, it was literally a name or mark given to a product to identify it. Think of cattle and how it is ‘branded’ with the name or mark of the owner. A brand is far more encompassing now and has come to mean so much more. An identifying name or mark is part of it, yes, but a brand is really a whole lot more than that now.
Your brand is whatever represents you (your service, business, to product) to the outside world. In essence your brand is what people think of you and how they feel about you.
So whether you are aware of it or not, whether you have created it consciously or not, whether it is well thought out and consistent or a mish mash of different messages and visuals – if you have a business, you have a brand – your brand is how your audience sees you and feels about you.
When you choose to deliberately design your brand, you get to guide that by providing them with visual and emotional catalysts.
This can be done with use of name, logo, written communication, colours, symbols, and imagery, but it’s way more than that – it’s also about how you show up.
Your brand will be used across all forms of communication, from marketing materials to your social media and website. It’s a form of communication. But even though your brand takes those visual and written forms, what you are really doing is conveying an essence – the essence of your business, service, or product.
Your brand is how you communicate with people, with your audience and customers, and this is why it is so important to get it right from the beginning, to make sure you are conveying the right message, to make sure you are creating the right image in your audiences mind, evoking the right emotions, and to make sure you are representing the true essence of what you are offering in a way that will speak on every level to your customers and potential customer.
Branding is so much more than just picking pretty colour and fonts, it’s about digging really deep into the core of you and your offering and embodying and communicating that core energy effectively.
So the very first thing to do, before you start getting creative or hiring a designer, is to dig deep and get to the core of your business or offering so you really understand what you wish to communicate.
Before you even begin branding you need to know who your audience is. If branding is a means of communication, who are you communicating with?
The clearer you can get on that, they more your brand can be designed in alignment with their values and ideals. You can choose colours, fonts, imagery, and words that resonate with your audience.
So how do you know? How do you define who you are branding for? Well that’s where your avatar comes into play.
Your avatar is your ideal customer – you literally create a person who is completely representative of your audience. Your avatar becomes a person that you know so well, you know their likes, their dislikes, their hopes and dreams, their fears and challenges. You know their pain points and you have the solution to help them. Your avatar cannot wait for you to share your products and services with them as it’s just what they’ve been waiting for to help solve their problems!
Defining Your Avatar
Start by writing it down on paper. Give your avatar a name, give them an age. What do they do? Do they work, do they study? Do they have kids? What do they eat? What are their hobbies? What TV shows do they watch and what music do they listen to? What are their passions and dreams?
Get as clear as you can, write as many details as you can until you feel like you know them! Even cut out a picture if it helps so you have something visual to identify with.
Write your mission statement right at the outset and then let it guide everything you do. I’m not talking about some corporate spiel to go on your office wall (I mean, it can go on your office wall if it inspires you, but this isn’t for show, this is for YOU). Ask yourself – at the core of all your services and products, what are you really doing? How are you of service? How are you helping people?
What’s the underlying mission that drives your work or business?
Now you know your mission and you know your avatar, it’s easier to really start to feel into the essence of your business or project.
What words come to mind?
Words are so powerful as they carry energy with them that can spark something.
It’s not that you will use these words necessarily in your branding (though they may seep into your message and communications) but you will use them to generate a feeling that will permeate all the visual and written branding you create. Get a journal or notebook and start to play. Start with one word and let it lead to another. Write a whole page full of words that hold the vibration of you and your business.
If you find it hard to think of more words, try using a thesaurus – I use Thesaurus.com a LOT! Type in a word and it will give you synonyms – words with the same or similar meaning. Write down any that resonate. Once you have a page full of words it could be cool to create a word cloud using a tool like https://www.wordclouds.com/
Then you can print it out and put it on your wall for inspiration! Like with every stage of the process, it’s all about connecting to the essence of you and your business and letting that infuse everything you do, everything you create.
Now you’re well and truly immersed in the essence of your business, you are ready to begin creating your visual brand. Let it flow from there… whether you are a creative and putting together your own visuals, or whether you are consulting with a designer to do it for you, let the essence of your business seamlessly flow into the visuals you create to show up to your audience, let it guide your words, and permeate your website, let it translate into your logo and colour your graphics.
And most importantly of all – as a coach – make sure you put YOU in your brand!