5 essential elements of a well-defined brand
Often when people think about branding, they think about concepts like choosing the perfect name or designing a gorgeous logo or website. But the truth is that visuals are only part of what makes a powerful and memorable brand. Your brand is something much more intangible than that – it has to do with the way that your audience thinks and feels about you. And while your visuals are an important part of that, they aren’t the starting point.
Branding is first and foremost about strategy. It’s about establishing a vision for the way you want your business to be perceived and taking deliberate steps to implement that vision in the way that your business looks, feels and interacts with your audience.
Before you develop the visuals for your brand, you need to lay a strong foundation that clearly defines who you are as a business, what you are trying to accomplish, and what makes you unique and valuable in the way that you serve your clients. Having this foundation in place will allow you to make choices about your design and brand visuals that reinforce your strategic objectives, rather than just picking something because you think it looks nice.
Let’s use an example.
Say you’re building a house. Before the shovel even goes into the ground, you’ll put some serious thought into the functionality of the house and the way that it will be used. Where are the bedrooms? Do you need space for a home office or room to entertain? Does it need to be kid-friendly?
You’ll have a vision, not just for your home, but for your life inside that home. And then you’ll take steps to make sure that everything – from the foundation to the construction to the paint colours – aligns with that overall vision.
If you’ve ever watched HGTV, you know what happens if the foundation work (literally!) is done poorly. It doesn’t matter how lovely that granite countertop is if the wiring or the plumbing are bad. You’ll be tearing it all up again before you know it.
The same thing is true for your brand.
You could have the most beautiful logo or website in the world, but if it doesn’t connect to a clearly defined vision to help you attract and delight the perfect audience, you’ll find yourself frustrated and wondering why it isn’t working. For your brand to truly succeed in building your business and serving your customers, there are five essential elements that you must be crystal clear on before you start the branding (or rebranding) process.
The 5 brand elements
This is all about how you are positioned in your market in relation to your audience and to your competitors. Who are you as a business? Who is your audience, and what kinds of products and services do you offer to help them? What kind of value do you offer them? What makes you unique or different?
What is the one thing that you promise to deliver to every customer, every time? This goes deeper than the various products in your shop, or the services and packages listed on your “Work With Me” page. This is the thing that your customers expect from you – the reason they buy from you instead of someone else.
If your brand were a person, how would your customers describe her? You want your brand to be instantly understood and recognizable to your customers, and while the visuals help (we’ll get to that in a second), they’re rooted in your brand’s personality. Brand personality refers to the traits (just like personality traits in a human!) that make your brand unique in the eyes of your audience.
Your brand story is all about how you got here, but it’s more than just a description of your background and how it led to the products and services that you offer today. A good brand story connects you to your audience by linking your story with theirs. It shows your customer that you understand them (empathy) and can help them (authority).
Finally, the visuals! Brand association refers to the actual tangible “assets” that people associate with your brand: the logo, fonts, colours and other elements that make up the way your brand is visually represented. For these to be successful, they need to support the other four elements, so that your visual brand consistently represents the your brand’s position, promise, personality and story.
Together, these five elements make up the foundation to a successful brand. Taking the time to get clear on how they apply to your business will give you a solid foundation not just for your logo and website, but for all of the ways in which you and your business are perceived and remembered by your customers.
Ready to get started? I've created a totally free, 10-page workbook that will help you to clarify some of the questions I've raised in this post so that you can start defining the essentials of your brand. Click the button below to download your copy!