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7 easy exercises to help you build a powerful brand

Branding isn’t just about a logo or colour scheme. If you look at some of the most successful brands in the world today, they all have something in common. And that’s authentic core values.

Values influence every customer touchpoint. They are ingrained in a brand’s identity, story and voice. They determine a brand’s mission.

When a powerful brand makes waves in an industry, it’s because its values set it apart.

Before you can make any waves, think about what your brand is actually offering. For consistency and clarity, consider how your employees and colleagues view you, how your customer views you and how you fit into the competitive market.

 Start simple by determining what exactly it is you offer or plan to offer. Then use these 8 super-simple exercises to build a brand that stands out from the crowd.

They aren’t designed to give you all the answers, but they are designed to get you thinking. Have fun!

Finding your brand personality

Gather your friends or colleagues and ask: If your business were [insert one of the below words here] then what would it be and why?

Words

  • A person
  • An object
  • An animal
  • A car
  • A bumper sticker

The point of the task isn’t about what people come up with; it’s why.

So if someone compares your business to a famous artist, maybe they think your brand is creative. If someone suggests the business is like a Land Rover, maybe they think your brand is adventurous.

Ideally, you’ll come up with a whole bunch of different words to describe your brand personality. You can write these in a list or plaster your walls in sticky notes to get your ideas in order. If you want more visuals, find images that represent the different words and stick those up too. Try and group similar words or images together.

As you look around the room, you will probably feel drawn to certain words or images. Try and narrow it down to pick three personality keywords that you feel really represent your brand. These will help you build a brand voice later down the line.

Knowing your customer

You need to create copy that connects with your customer. And that means knowing your customer.

We’ve already written a whole load about discovering your ideal customer and how to create customer avatars in our recent blog post here. You basically need to challenge your assumptions and delve deep into your existing or potential customers’ mindsets to find out what makes them tick. Nip on over to read all about it!

Picking a brand name

Already got a brand name? Great! Struggling to pick one? We feel ya.

Picking a name is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do in the branding process. You want your brand name to reflect your personality, appeal to your customer and say exactly what you do, all at the same time. And you want to love it yourself, obviously!

There are a million ways you can go about choosing a name. The most obvious place to start is with a thesaurus. Think of a bunch of words that relate to your business and flick through to find synonyms that resonate. Write down a huge list of options.

A super creative approach can help: drawing pictures, cutting out images from magazines, playing music, rearranging Scrabble tiles, trawling through foreign-language dictionaries.

Or perhaps a systematic approach is right for you. You might list all your competitors, for example, and analyse each of their names. Does it factually describe the product or service? Does it convey an experience or emotion? Some businesses choose to invent a brand-new word, like Google and Skype.

Don’t eliminate any options in the first stages. Doodle out a couple of logos that you like. Say each word out loud to see if it rolls off the tongue. Ask around for the opinion of friends and colleagues.

And finally: Don’t get excited about a name until you’ve done ALL of your background checks into trademark and domain availability!

Analysing the competition

 Have a think about who your main competitors are. If you’re not sure, you’re going to have to do a bit of research. Just searching on Google should give you some idea of the most popular and established brands in your industry.

The easiest way to compare your brand to the competition is through a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for:

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

For each of your competitors, write down what you think their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats are. You can chart it all in one big table or whack each business logo in the middle of a blank piece of paper to create mindmaps. It’s really up to you.

Here are a couple examples of each to help you get started.

build a brand

Once you’ve determined where your competitors do well and where they fall down, it’s your turn! Work out how your brand fills the gaps left in the market and why customers might use you instead. Create your own SWOT analysis.

When you’re done, jot down how you plan to monitor your Strengths, improve your Weaknesses, capitalise on your Opportunities and eliminate your Threats to help your brand stand out from the crowd.

Choosing core values

First thing’s first, you need to ask yourself:

  • Why am I setting up this business in the first place?
  • What am I hoping to achieve?
  • How do I want to go about it?

If you’re finding it difficult to pin down, have a think about some of your favourite brands. Why do they stand out in your mind? What values do they represent? Why do they appeal to you?

Now get a piece of paper and write down some recent experiences you had with businesses you didn’t like. Maybe you ordered a pair of shoes and they were delivered in non-recyclable packaging, or you went to a restaurant and the service was slow. Perhaps you signed up for a new service and the process felt cold and impersonal.

Once you’ve got a list of negative business experiences lined up with reasons why you didn’t like them, play the opposite game. Go through the thesaurus and look up the antonyms for all those negative words that so easily came to mind. Slow becomes active, rapid or smart. Cold becomes responsive, enthusiastic or friendly.

Once you’ve brainstormed your words, think about whether they apply to your business. Do you want to make sure your service is rapid, responsive and reliable? Do you want to make sure you are committed to environmentally friendly practices?

It’s best to bring in your customer avatar at this stage (see point 2), so you can think about what your customer expects from you too. Hopefully, the values you believe they deem important will align with yours.

This list is just a starting point for you. Your values will remain at the heart of everything you do, so take your time and choose wisely!

Determining a brand voice

It’s time to determine the tone of voice you’ll use to address your customers!

Start by reminding yourself of your personality keywords. Then take those keywords and ask yourself: How would a/an [insert keyword here] individual communicate to [insert customer avatar]?

Say one of your personality keywords is creative. Your ideal communication style might be enthusiastic, informal or expressive.

Perhaps one of your keywords is reliable. Then your preferred communication style might be direct, concise or trustworthy.

Next, create a list of dos and don’ts. You basically need a ‘how-to’ guide to make sure your employees understand how to position your brand in both internal and external communication.

Put all your communication styles into a table. You can have as many or as few as you like at this stage. Add a list of dos and don’ts for each one.

It might appear a bit like this:

StyleDoDon’t
ExpressiveMake bold statementsBe too rigid in structure
EnthusiasticUse positive languageBe OTT
InformalBe down-to-earth and playfulUse jargon

Once you’ve got your list together, rank your dos and don’ts in order. You can use these as a basis when you build a brand guide later on.

Telling your brand story

Your brand story is the narrative behind your brand. It’s about where you came from and where you’re going next. The most important thing to bear in mind is that it has to resonate with your audience – if it fails to do that, it’s not bringing any value to your business.

First, take a piece of paper and divide it into three sections.

  1. In the first section, write about your past. Who started the business? What sparked the idea? Who do you want to help and why?
  2. In the second section, focus on the present. Where are you now? What stage are you at in your plan? What are you most proud of?
  3. Finally, think about the future. Where do you want to be? What do you want to achieve? And what do you need to do to get there?

Next, draft a short mission statement that ties in to your overall goals. Your purpose should shine through here. If you want your customer to believe in you, the statement needs to be honest and from the heart.

Finally, use your customer avatars, notes and your statement to craft a story that is tailored to engage your ideal customer. Tell your story and no one else’s. Remember to keep your brand voice consistent and mention your core values if you can. The finished product can then be shared on your website and in your brand guidelines.

If you’re not a natural writer, ask a friend, colleague or professional to look over the brand story for you, or to help you in the writing process.

Brainstorming colours, themes, looks and feels

It’s time to create your moodboard! Think of the words that you’ve decided fit your brand personality, your core values and your brand voice. What images do you feel represent those words?

Cut pictures from old magazines, trawl through stock image websites or dive into Instagram to find the images you feel represent you.

You can create a physical moodboard or use a site like Pinterest to gather all of your thoughts and ideas into one board.

If you want to take your competitors into account, compare their colour schemes to your finished moodboard. You’ll probably find a pattern – energy businesses love green, the food industry uses a lot of yellow and red, and so on. Do you want to fit in or stand out? The choice is up to you.

When you’re done, you’ll probably find you’ve naturally deviated towards certain themes, colours and designs. You can then use this moodboard to begin preparing your primary and secondary colour palette, font choice and logo/icon design.


Hopefully, these exercises are a good jumping off point for you as you build a brand you love.

We know how daunting it can be to get started, so if you need more help with the planning or implementation of your new brand, we’re always here to help.

Good luck!

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