Your 12 step brand framework to set you worlds apart from your competitors
Hi there! And congratulations for making it here. There’s always something new to learn and implement in your business to keep the wheels of success spinning… and with your ever growing to-do list as well as maintaining your personal life, there can also be so many blocks to actually making that happen. So well done on taking the time to be here.
My 12 step process to creating your new brand framework is outlined in the video up there but just in case you’re not a video person, all the most important bits my face said up there are also written down here for you to copy and paste into your own document. Just fill in each heading as I’ve instructed below and “POOF!”, just like Cinderella going to the ball and wacka-doodling the handsome prince’s socks off, you’ll be on the path to creating a brand that will set you worlds apart from your competitors.
But… don’t just fill it in and shove it in your inbox where all important documents go to die. Refer back to it regularly (I have mine pinned to my wall), review it at least every twelve months and make sure your marketing activities follow it consistently. It can also be a handy guide to give to new employees and contractors so they’re on board with all the juicy insides of your business, lickety-split!
NOW, ONWARD JAMES, TAKE US TO THIS BRAND FRAMEWORK!
So first of all, why is a brand framework important?
The most common questions I get asked when I’m working with new business owners is “What colours and fonts should I use for my brand?”. Or “Do you think this idea is a good idea for a logo?”. Those are most excellent questions, but I can absolutely tell you that if you create your brand framework before you get into the juicy details things like your logo, fonts and colours, then answering those questions becomes a whole bunch easier, in fact, creating your whole business becomes a whole lot easier, not to mention, clearer – to you, your team and your customers. Because your brand framework is the basis, the simplest form, that everything else will grow from.
The first thing to remember when building a brand is that your brand is so much more than your logo, fonts and colours.
IT IS YOU.
If you think of your business as its own world, a world that you are bringing to life; just like planet Earth, the core of that world is you – your values, your personality and your dreams. This is the basis of your brand framework, and it holds the rest of your world together. The rich fertile earth around the core is your visual identity, the luscious fruit, grass and trees that grow out of the earth are your products and services, the bees are your marketing message, spreading word of your brand all over the world and of course, like any good creator, you need tools to help you do what you do with ease and efficiency – these are your business systems.
SO, FIRST WE START WITH YOUR BRAND CORE…
1. Write down your brand pillars: Your brand pillars are the core type of products or services your business offers e.g. accounting, coaching, writing, ink pens, modern clothing etc. Include your current brand pillars and brainstorm any pillars you think you may want to expand into in the future. This will make sure you create a brand that’s narrow enough to market effectively but broad enough to allow you expansion in the future.
2. Get really clear on your values and your business’ values: This is really important. Your own personal values should drive your business and your business’ values should compliment your personal values or you can end up with all sort of internal conflict going on which will make you unconsciously create blocks and sabotages in your business without even knowing it. To start, find a list of life values and print it out. I use this one. Get two different coloured highlighters and highlight all the values that are important to you, then switch colours and highlight all the values that are important to your business.
Now, narrow those down to your top ten values for both you and your business. Then narrow again to your top three. Are there any value conflicts between you and your business? If so it’s a great idea to resolve them now. Don’t freak out too much, it could be be something simple like a change in name or tweak to your business model to set things straight. I know it can be a huge temptation to skip over this step because it may seem too hard or you may already have a fixed idea of what you want your business to be and you really don’t want to move away from that… But I’ve seen value conflicts bite business owners (myself included!) in the bum so many times, so if you do feel a little niggle that something’s not quite right here, I’d recommend irnoning it out from the get go. Once everything’s in alignment, move on to step 3.
3. Your Brand personality: If your brand was a person, who would it be? Write at least a paragraph (the more the better) about this personality, their gender, likes, dislikes, hobbies, goals, lifestyle, friends, relationships, strengths and weaknesses. To get really in-depth into brand personality, I like to use 16 personalities. It’s not made for business branding, but if you answer each question as if you were your business, it can give some great clarity and ‘Aha!’ moments.
4. Your Cinderella glass slipper: Just like Cinderella’s glass slipper set her apart from all the other girls in the kingdom, what is it about your business that means there’s no mistaking you for anyone else? Write down three ways you can leverage that in your business.
5. Positioning statement: Your positioning statement is a short statement (it can even be a couple of words as in Nike’s ‘Just Do It’) that sums up your brand pillars, values and personality in the simplest way possible. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t think of anything straight away. It can be the hardest part of a brand to identify, and you don’t have to have one the moment you open your doors for business. To start with write a few words or a short sentence that sums up everything about your business, let it simmer and go back to it as your business evolves until it feels just right, then roll it out through your marketing.
6. Competitor analysis: Write down your top competitors, list their brand pillars, values and personality (as you see them) as well as their logos to see where you fit into the industry and how you stand out.
7. Customer profile: Write down your ideal customer including demographics (age, gender, education, hobbies, career) as well as their lifestyle. Now… match them to your brand personality… would your ideal customer and your brand personality relate to each other/be friends? If not, there’s a mismatch that needs to be resolved.
YOUR VISUAL IDENTITY (NOW WE GET TO ALL THE LOGOS AND FONTS AND COLOURS AND STUFF!)
8. Your logo and logo story: Place a copy of your logo in the space below this step and write a paragraph about the story behind your logo. Does it match your brand core and personality? If you haven’t created your logo but want to give it a crack yourself, you can download Adobe Illustrator for a free trial (check out my article on creating a logo here) or if it all gets too much, you can hire me to create your logo for you.
9. Colour palette: What are your brand colours? (1-3 colours are a good start). Make sure they match your brand values and personality. If you’d like help creating a palette, www.coolors.co is a great tool to get all jiggy with some colour combos… or to give yourself some extra insight into colour meanings,try Googling ‘colour psychology’ to get more in-depth.
10. Fonts: It’s good to have a font (or maybe two) for your logo, a font to use in body copy and one for headings. Each font has a style or personality, as always, match it to your core values and brand personality. If you’d like somewhere to start there are a few basic families of font styles:
– Display fonts are big, bold, and fun, they can relate to particular genres, eras or artistic periods. They should be used sparingly to highlight your brand personality. If over-used they can make your brand look kitsch and tacky.
– Script fonts are feminine and gentle, if you’re using a script font it’s important to make sure it’s readable. And usually only use it in special displays or headings rather than long bodies of text.
– Hand written fonts give a feeling of casual friendship or warmth.
– Slab fonts are bold, masculine and strong, a good option for headings.
– Serif fonts are formal and traditional and are often the text of choice for long bodies of text.
– Sans serif fonts are more modern and also great for long bodies of text, especially on websites.
11. Images/symbols/patterns: Choose a style for any patterns, symbols or images you’ll be using. For images, either book a professional photographer to ensure consistency in the style of photos you use, or if using stock photography, make sure you pick the same style each time e.g. if you go for muted retro tones in one photo, don’t pick a harsh industrial style photo the next time. Symbols and patterns can add a little something extra to surprise and delight your customers. Include any symbols and patterns and how they are to be used here.
12. Storytelling: Your storytelling can be a really powerful tool to set you apart from your competitors in your industry and connect emotionally with your customers (Because most purchase decisions are made at an emotional level). You want to be akin to a good story. Use your storytelling to draw your customers into your world. There are four parts to your storytelling:
a) Your storytelling style: Are your relaxed? Formal? Technical? Do you sound serious or like you’re talking to your best friend? Do you use long whimsical sentences or are you short, sweet and straight to the point?
b) Your customer pathway: Write down every entry point to your business e.g. Your website, Facebook, advertising and then create a flow chart for each including how customers move through your business. At each stage are they feeling supported? Are you providing information so they can get to know, like and trust you? Are you giving them enough, but not too much information, in every interaction with you?
c) Words used on your website for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): These are called keywords and should be selected based on what people are likely to be entering into search engines when they’re looking for the product or service your provide. If part of your marketing strategy is getting customers from your website, then you’ll need a whole kick-ass SEO strategy. For learning of the SEO stuff in-depth I follow Kate Toon, copy writing goddess and general funny chick at her I LOVE SEO Facebook page.
d) Words to consistently use in your storytelling to build your brand: This is more of a guide to make sure there’s a pattern to everything you say in your business. You don’t need to use these words in every paragraph of your communication, but they should be floating around in there on a regular basis. As always, link them back to your core values and brand personality, and stay away from using trendy words or industry jargon.
That there’ll do it! Now you have one brand framework ready to roll out consistently through your marketing efforts… Because if there’s one thing that will make customers like, trust and purchase from you it’s feeling certain that they know who you are and feeling safe that you’ll show up the same way time and time again.
If you’d like more information, or a real-life brandy-writing-designery type person to help you on your brand building expedition, you can find more goodies on my blog or you can hire me to do all this for you by calling 0409 433 977 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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