The time has come and now you’re wondering “How do I brand my business?”. Maybe you’re in the early stages of a startup or ready to take things to the next level. One thing is certain—your business needs a brand. Not just any old logo. You need a brand that sets you apart from the rest. A visual system that powerfully communicates your unique vision and value to your target audience.
My name is Jordan Ansley, Co-Founder here at Ansley Creative where branding is one of the things we specialize in. Thus, in this post we will discuss what I feel are the three steps to branding your business.
Three Steps to Branding A Business
If you want to take full advantage of this information, I have made all of the tools we’ve used through the years available on Google Drive. Just hit “Get Access” anywhere on this post and—once you enter your email—you’ll be taken over to my Branding Toolbox on Google Drive where you can access game-changing resources.
Get access to the Branding Toolbox.
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1. The Brand Essence
Your Brand Essence is a short sentence or two encapsulating the singular focus of all efforts your business makes. People often equate brands to logos. But hopefully this process will help to awaken you to the true scope and power of your business’ brand. Some people also refer to the Brand Essence as the Big Idea. In her book Designing Brand Identity, Alina Wheeler gives the example of a FedEx slogan, “The World On Time”, effectively encapsulating everything they were trying to be and do as a company.
P.S. I’ve included a PDF of an old version of that book in the Branding Toolbox on Google Drive in case you wanted to skim through before purchasing your own copy.
How do I find my Brand Essence or Big Idea?
In my experience, this isn’t something you discover as much as it is something you develop. When you start to look inwardly at your company values it becomes easier to differentiate yourself from the crowd of competition.
We use a workbook we’ve written titled “Narrowing the Focus” to help our clients develop their big idea. First of all, we ask questions like what is your mission or vision, what are your values. what products/services you offer, who is your competition, how does your pricing compare to the average, and more. After this, we start to clarify by picking things that stand out and offer an advantage to your business. Next, we talk explicitly about positioning and how to differentiate your business from all others. Finally, in the last section we attempt to tie all of this together with one unifying concept—the big idea.
Develop Your Big Idea
It's easy with the workbook included in our Branding Toolbox.
2. Look and Feel
Once you have a firm grasp of your company’s core identity, it’s time to start exploring the visual elements of the brand. In other words, it’s time to think about colours, fonts, and shapes. Because the work of defining the brand was done beforehand, it is easy to make decisions on everything else as you move forward.
Now, if you’re saying “But Jordan, I’m not a designer” I don’t care. Whether you are a designer or not, you should have a vision for the look and feel of your brand. Plus, we’re not even talking about the actual design process yet—that’s step three.
First of all, if you’re distracted by my Canadian spelling, I’m sorry. 🍁
Colour is one of the first things customers will notice about your brand. It also has the ability to communicate subconscious values to people the very moment they see your brand. What I mean is each colour symbolizes specific things to most people for reasons both cultural and natural. Here’s a list of examples from Canva:
- Red – For Danger, Passion, Excitement & Energy
- Orange – Fresh, Youthful, Creative & Adventurous
- Yellow – Optimistic, Cheerful, Playful & Happy
- Green – Natural, Vitality, Prestige & Wealth
- Blue – Communicative, Trustworthy, Calming & Depressed
- Purple – Royalty, Majesty, Spiritual & Mysterious
- Brown – Organic, Wholesome, Simple & Honest
- Pink – Feminine, Sentimental, Romantic & Exciting
- Black – Sophisticated, Formal, Luxurious & Sorrowful
- White – Purity, Simplicity, Innocence & Minimalism
I’m sure you’re starting to see the important role colour plays in defining your brand in the mind of your customers. When they see your social profile, they should be thinking about values that relate to what you’re really about as a business.
Much like colour, the fonts you choose help attract the right customer to your business by communicating values about your brand. This means that if you have a quirky, fun, or interesting brand maybe a more playful font would be a good choice. Whereas, if you have a more formal or professional brand then more traditional, serif fonts might be suitable options.
There is another side to the font-choosing coin and that is font pairing. It is almost always necessary to have more than one font for your brand. Typically you will use one for headings and another for body text. In the Branding Toolbox you’ll be able to find a collection of images that give examples of some nice font pairs.
At Ansley Creative, we like to make use of Google Fonts as often as possible. It is a great library of fonts that are available for download and commercial use. You can filter the list to see the fonts that are most suited to your brand. They even suggest font pairs which are usually okay for most brands!
We are talking about this aspect of the Look and Feel last, but it really is the first thing that distinguishes you from all other brands. It’s also something that remains constant despite the environment your brand is featured in.
Below we’ve summarized the main points of the Psychology of Logo Shapes by the folks over at Fabrik Brands. Their article is great if you want to deep dive on the topic. Otherwise, we’ve go all you need right here:
The human brain is hard-wired to memorize and assign meaning to shapes. That is what makes them so crucial to the branding process . A distinctive shape will stick with you for a long time. Imagine clicking that iconic YouTube Play Button or taking a bite out of Apple.
- Positive emotional messages
- Unity and commitment
- Strength and steadiness
- Proportion, balance, and professionalism
- Safe and secure
- A sense of power and strength
- Continuous motion or speed
- Sense of hierarchy
- Innovation and improvement
Organic or Literal Shapes
- Clear meaning and associations
- Depiction of real or natural items
Some brands do not make use of shape explicitly in their primary logo. Instead, they opt to display only a wordmark or lettermark. Still, the presentation of that logo can be influenced by shape.
Define the Look and Feel of Your Brand
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3. Brand Design
By now, the lines are starting to get blurry. It almost seems like the content we covered in “Look and Feel” relates more to “Design”. Let me give you a little author’s note on the way I’ve broken it down.
Steps 1 and 2 are meant to be more theoretical. They are the parts in the process where you establish a framework for the pen-to-paper part of the process which we are entering into now. Design is the third and final step of branding your business.
In this step we will discuss both Do-It-Yourself and Done-For-You options.
If you’re feeling up to the challenge of crafting your own unique brand here is a list of Tools I would recommend you try.
- Adobe Illustrator (Significant learning curve but total design freedom)
- Canva (Easy to use, more restrictive)
Obviously, when you go the route of actually designing your own logo, there is a lot more that could be said to help you through that process. Hopefully in the previous section on Look and Feel you got enough of a framework to be able to tackle this project with some confidence regardless of your level of skill or experience.
If you know that designing your own logo is not an option, just keep reading!
Whenever I meet with a business owner or entrepreneur I tell them “You’re the expert in your industry, I’m the expert in design and marketing. So, you focus on what you do best and let others focus on what they do best.”
It’s almost always worth it to pay someone else to do the things you either suck at, don’t have the time for, or simply don’t want to do. Especially if it’s something as important as designing your brand. For that reason, we’ve created a helpful list of options to consider when hiring out brand design.
- Tailor Brands
- Final results are not very unique
- Freelancers for hire
- Finding a good designer can be a very involved process
- Contest-based platform
- Multiple designers will compete to give you the best logo
- Managing the contest can be cumbersome
- Ansley Creative
- Experienced professionals with a proven process to deliver the perfect brand for your business.
- We walk with you from beginning to end.
- Ansley Creative will deliver not just a logo, but a comprehensive Brand Identity and Strategy
Why not Book A Call?
This entire post is designed to provide you with the tools and resources needed to brand your business. Our goal is to give you real value, up front.
If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, we’d love to connect with you
further to answer any questions you might have as you work through these three steps!