The Creative Toolkit for Marketers

How To Build or Revamp a Brand For Your Business

Apr 15, 2020 6:45:00 AM / by Chelsea Sassara

 


Swoosh. Golden Arches. The Happiest Place on Earth. “It’s in the game.” “Easy, breezy, beautiful.” “Think different.” Did you just make a mental image of those brands based on either their logo description or slogan?

 

If you did, it’s proof of the power of branding. You’re probably wondering, how do I get my business to that level of recognition? Is that even possible? Is it worth it?

 

The short answer is yes. In fact, 59% of consumers prefer to buy from familiar brands. In this article, we’re going to lay out 8 simple tips on how to build or revamp your brand.

 

What is a Business Brand?

Now, you may be asking how to define a brand. A simple definition of a brand is it’s your company’s identity. Who are you? How do you differentiate yourself from other companies, specifically competitors? There are several elements that make-up a brand such as logos, colors, or slogans. However, it also goes beyond visual assets and includes your voice, values, and target audience.

 

How to Build a Brand for Your Business

Starting to build your brand is daunting especially when you think of recognizable brands such as Nike or McDonald’s. How do I elevate my brand to that level? Is that even possible? What should be my goal?

 

It’s important to remember that your brand can and should evolve. If you don’t think of the perfect slogan right away, that’s okay. If you end up changing your brand colors 5 years down the road, no problem. Just like your business practices are likely to change over time, so will your brand. So, whether you’re just starting to define your brand or want to revamp it, here are 8 steps to get you going.

 

    1. What are your brand’s mission and values?

    2. Who are you trying to target?

    3. How can you differentiate your brand from your competitors?

    4. What is your brand’s voice?

    5. Create a visual identity: colors, fonts, logo

    6. Come up with a slogan or tagline

    7. Be consistent

    8. Build trust

 

Let’s break down each step to get a better understanding of how to fulfill each one.

 

1. What Are Your Brand’s Mission and Values?

Start with the basics of your business. What’s your business’ mission? Your mission statement and brand messaging need to align. Your mission can also be defined as your values or ethics. Maybe you value transparency and honesty when it comes to pricing. Maybe you value sourcing sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials for your products. How do you want your potential customers to feel about you?

 

You can find inspiration for your brand’s values and ethics in other companies. What practices do brands you like implement into their business? Why do you trust a certain brand more than the other? Once you find that inspiration, build on it, make it your own, and make it better.

 

2. Who Are You Trying to Target?

Who’s your target audience? Who are you trying to sell your brand to? Once you define your buyer personas, do research on them. What are they searching for? What products are they buying? What social media accounts do they follow and engage with? Get into the head of your buyers and then customize your brand towards them.

 

3. How Can You Differentiate Your Brand From Your Competitors?

Separate yourself from the competition: what makes your brand different? What benefits do you offer that your competitors don’t? Just like your target audience, research your competitors. What colors do they use? What’s their brand voice (more on that shortly)? Do they use social media?

 

By researching your competitors, you can find your niche that will separate your business from others and help build brand recognition.

 

4. What is Your Brand’s Voice? 

This comes down to defining the tone of your messaging. How do you want your customers to feel when watching a marketing video, reading a blog post, or scrolling through your website? Do you want to be inspirational? Humorous? Transparent? Personal?

 

Here’s a pro tip: write down 5 words that describe your business. Then, tailor your voice to reflect those 5 words. Defining your voice creates brand consistency in your messaging across all channels. It can also help personalize your messaging so that your target audience feels as though a person is talking to them, not a company.

 

5. Create a Visual Identity: Colors, Fonts, Logo

When people think of the word “brand,” they likely first think of a brand’s logo. Some of the world’s most recognizable logos include Apple, Google, Starbucks, Disney, Target. You probably were able to picture all those logos in your head, right?

 

However, there’s more than just a logo when it comes to design. Brand colors are just as important. In fact, a study found that color improves brand recognition by up to 80%. Brand fonts or design elements (swirls, flowers, stars – you get the picture) are also important, especially when it comes to your website.

 

Click the image below to read: Brand Color Psychology: Men vs. Women

Brand color psychology

 

6. Come Up With a Slogan or Tagline 

This one can be a bit confusing because not every big brand has a singular slogan. Starbucks, for example, has used several over the years. However, Starbucks also doesn’t do a lot of traditional marketing or advertising. Can you think of a notable Starbucks commercial? Probably not. With this in mind, having a slogan isn’t imperative to Starbucks’ brand.

 

On the flip side, think of Nike. Did you just say, “Just Do It?” Or what about Subway? You probably uttered “Eat Fresh.” Slogans have the power to make a statement for your brand as long as you use them consistently, which brings us to the next tip…

 

7. Consistency is Key

Once you have all the aforementioned items in place, it’s time to implement it all by promoting your brand across all channels. That includes your website, social media, marketing videos, email signatures, product packaging, the list goes on and on.

 

Consistency is essential in brand recognizability. A survey found it takes 5 – 7 impressions before someone will remember your brand. Not only that, but consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23%.

 

Creating brand guidelines helps with visual consistency. Guidelines ensure you’re using the correct colors, fonts, and design elements for visual assets and helps streamline the process for your employees. This helps everyone stay on the same page (and on-brand!).

 

8. Build Trust

How do you build trust, you may ask? Practice what you preach. If your mission is to reduce your carbon footprint, then be sure to use sustainable materials. If you claim you're the most affordable brand compared to your competitors, then match prices. Stay true to your values. Building trust builds loyalty, and loyalty helps bring money in the door.

 

Just like defining your values and ethics, try to think about why you trust the brands that you do on a personal level. What makes you trust them? What can a brand do to lose your trust? Follow your own moral guidelines when figuring out how to build trust within your brand.

 

Building a Brand Case Study: VMG Studios

Hopefully those 8 tips will help you hit the ground running when it comes to building or redesigning your brand. However, if you’re anything like me (a very Type A personality), you’d like to see examples for each tip. With that in mind, I’m going to use the company I work for, VMG Studios, as our example.

 

VMG Studios is a certified women-owned creative marketing agency and video production studio based in the Seattle, Washington area. It was founded in 2004 with just 4 employees working out of a garage. Since then, VMG has moved into a 7,100 square foot building with our own studio and audio booth and added 19 employees. With this in mind, VMG is still a smaller company. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t have a brand identity. And it’s that brand that has helped us land enterprise-level clients such as Microsoft, T-Mobile, Amazon, and Starbucks.

 

I sat down with VMG Studios CEO and founder, Kelly Sparks, to talk about how she created VMG’s brand and how it’s evolved over the years.

 

Naming Your Business: Where VMG Studios Came From

Creating the name of your business isn’t on the list of tips for creating a brand, mostly because if you don’t have a name, you don’t have a business, and if you don’t have a business, you can’t build a brand. However, the name of your business is, of course, important and can influence your brand.

 

VMG Studios, for example, has gone through several iterations of its name. It started as Visual Media Group – hence, what VMG stands for. It then went to VMG Studio 520 – which is based on the company’s current location (we’re off Highway 520 in the 520 plaza). Now, we’re simply VMG Studios. Each name change has influenced our brand from logo, to colors, to design (which we’ll get to shortly).

 

VMG Studios Mission/Values

Ironically, VMG Studios is actually working on revamping our mission and values right now. However, our core mission and values remain; we are in the business of captivating minds to ensure your message is seen, heard, and understood through creative content. We work in partnership with companies and organizations to challenge creative minds.

 

We value transparency, authenticity, collaboration, accountability, and innovation.

 

VMG Studios Target Audience

Just like a lot of the brand elements, our target audience has evolved. In the beginning, when VMG had just 4 employees, we targeted small to mid-size companies. However, especially when the recession hit, that wasn’t sustainable. That’s when VMG Studios started working with enterprise-level corporations; companies that were still investing in marketing, video, design, etc.

 

How is VMG Studios Unique?

VMG Studios is a women-owned company with a diverse staff. Our diversity includes our skillsets, meaning we bring innovative and unique ideas to our clients from multiple perspectives. We also offer budget-focused solutions that helps increase our client’s return on investment. And we can do this all in-house! Since we have our own studio and audio booth, we don’t need to outsource when it comes to studio space. VMG Studios also offers end-to-end services from concept ideation and strategy to development and deployment.

 

What is VMG Studios’ Voice?

We want our voice to match our culture, the people working in our office, so you feel as if you truly know us even without meeting us. With that in mind, our voice is a combination of fun, creative, educational, inspiring, engaging and trendy (can’t you tell with this article?!).

 

VMG Studios’ Visual Identity Through the Years

Now, this is the fun part, seeing how our design has changed since 2004. Our logo, fonts, and colors have gone on quite a journey from masculine and edgy to feminine and inviting.

 

VMG Studios logo designs through the years 

We tried something a little different when we most recently redesigned our logo. We asked the people what they thought! Yep, we hosted a Google survey on the redesign. We were able to do so by targeting our audience, marketing managers at enterprise-level corporations, and showed them our logo at the time. We then asked for feedback on the design, how it made them feel, what they liked or didn’t like. The primary feedback was people felt our logo was outdated, it wasn’t trendy. With that information in hand, we redesigned our logo into what it is today.

 

As mentioned earlier, getting into the mind of your target audience helps shape your brand, so instead of trying to get into their mindset, we just asked for their feedback. And it’s safe to say that we are happy with the end result. We’ve also had and have specific design elements as part of our brand. We used to have a tree as part of our logo. While the tree is gone, we still use leaf elements in some of our designs, which you can see in the background of the video clip below.

 

VMG-Studios-explainer-video-gif

 

VMG Studios’ Slogan/Tagline

Just like our logo and colors, we’ve had different slogans over the years. For a long time, the slogan was “Whadda Lookin’ At.” Now, our slogan is “Imagine That.”

 

We’ve also created a new brand for our content marketing efforts, which includes articles (like the one you’re reading right now), videos, and other downloadable educational material on our industry. You can find this content on our website and YouTube channel “The Creative Toolkit for Marketers.” The branding is similar to VMG Studios, but with its own twist. It even has its own slogan “Keep Creating.”

 

How Does VMG Studios Stay Consistent?

Just like the tips we’ve laid out, we are consistent with our brand across our website, social media channels, emails, and presentations. We have branded PowerPoint or Keynote presentations for pitch meetings so potential clients know, and most importantly, remember who we are. We bring our voice and our culture to those meetings as well.

 

Even our content marketing materials are branded. I’m sure you’ve noticed the brand colors that are sprinkled into this article. Remember that statistic: color improves brand recognition by up to 80%.

 

How Does VMG Studios Build Trust?

We build trust with clients through our responsiveness and by understanding and adapting to their needs. We also deliver. We deliver that engaging, inspiring, and unique content we offered to get clients to sign with us.

 

We’ve also been building trust through content marketing: providing educational, transparent, and free materials about our practices, services, and the industry as a whole. Consumers today like to research any and everything before they buy something, so we’re working to answer all those questions a customer may have up front so there is no confusion as to what we offer as a company. It also helps establish our expertise in the market which ensures we’ll get your project done right.

 

Another way of building trust is to be true to who you are as a company. You’ve likely heard the phrase “that’s on-brand” or even “that’s off-brand.” Kelly Sparks summed that up by saying “If we don’t identify with it, if it doesn’t feel like us, that would be off-brand.”

 

Building a Brand for Your Business

Is building a brand hard work? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The good thing about a brand is that it’s not permanent. It can evolve over time. You may think something is great one moment, and then realize it’s not so great the next.

 

Finding growth within your brand is finding growth within your business. So, if you’re trying to build a brand from the ground up, or simply revamp your current brand, remember to consider these 8 tips.

      1. What are your brand’s mission and values?

      2. Who are you trying to target?

      3. How can you differentiate your brand from your competitors?

      4. What is your brand’s voice?

      5. Create a visual identity: colors, fonts, logo

      6. Come up with a slogan or tagline

      7. Be consistent

      8. Build trust

Be sure your brand aligns with your business practices, culture, and target audience. Separate yourself from the competition. Strive to be memorable. And remember, no one knows you (or your brand) better than you do.

 

Get started on building (or redesigning) your brand with a free downloadable worksheet

8 Steps to Building a Brand Worksheet

 

Tags: Marketing, Graphic design, Logo, branding agency, Branding, Design, Brand

Chelsea Sassara

Written by Chelsea Sassara

Chelsea Sassara is a Content Manager at VMG Studios. Chelsea is an Emmy award-winning journalist with a background in local TV news. She loves to write, her dog & cat, the Pacific Northwest, and the Oregon Ducks.

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