It’s the thrill of a new venture. The excitement of finally taking that bold step. That new book smell – if you will.
Starting your own business is in fact a very exciting and thrilling task. So much so that it’s easy to lose focus on what steps we need to take or what foundations we need to lie down before launching.
I want to cover a few things (branding related) that you need to do before tackling the visual side of your business.
First off I’d like to reiterate that branding is not just your logo and color scheme. There is a depth behind your brand that encompasses marketing goals, knowing your client, defining your mission statement and more.
[ Brand Foundations vs. Brand Design ]
So when I say “what you must do before branding your business,” I mean “all the brand things you need to figure out before you start thinking about your visual branding.”
If you don’t have a clear understanding of your business and it’s foundation, you’ll waste a lot of time and money skipping forward to the brand design.
I’ve seen it over and over, jumping into getting your visual identity made with a vague understanding of your foundations leads to a brand you love – momentarily. Only for it to be discarded later (along with all the money you invested).
So what is this foundation you need to tackle? First up, knowing your mission statement.
A mission statement declares your company’s purpose. It can define why you exist, who you are trying to serve, what you are offering, and what makes your business different from others in your industry.
If you don’t know this then you aren’t a business, you just have a hobby.
Here are some examples of mission statements:
Sweetgreen: to inspire healthier communities by connecting people to real food.
Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
So what will yours be?
One of the most important steps in developing your brand foundation is discovering and defining who your dream client is.
Who do you want to work with the most? What is their occupation, likes & dislikes, beliefs and core values? Knowing these things will help you better align your services to attract and retain potential clients.
If your dream client is someone who promotes eco friendly habits, sending them their prints in loads and loads of (unrecycled) plastic and paper will rub them the wrong way. You never want to leave a bad impression since referrals are a big part of business.
Obviously, this is a very specific example and doesn’t apply to everyone. But it should give you an idea about what I mean when gearing things to your clients so they walk away super pumped, satisfied, and ready to praise your name to everyone they know.
Now here is the scary part, getting SUPER specific about your dream client. For example, I’ve niched down to photographers with limited budgets but not limited dreams.
So what about all the other potential clients I’m ignoring? Just because you are not serving everyone, doesn’t mean you aren’t attracting them (or ignoring them). People who love your mission and style will still want to work with you, even if your marketing doesn’t talk directly to them.
On the flip side, all the people who you are targeting specifically will be far more likely to reach out. Increasing your inquiry rates. Ever come across a product or service online that makes you go, “Oh this is perfect for me!’? That’s niche marketing.
It’s not uncommon to develop a first impression upon discovering a business. Especially a photography or other visually stimulating company. Saying things like, “their photography is so pretty and warm.” or “it’s so sophisticated and beautiful!”. These first impressions are a great starting point for defining your brand keywords.
What impression do you want your business to give? Do you want to be seen as having a fun and friendly atmosphere? Or maybe posh and chic, for the women who love glam. The list goes on.
So write it down. Some examples of brand terms to get your wheels turning are: approachable, bright, artistic, cosy, earthy, extravagant, luxurious, whimsical, romantic, etc.
Above is the bare minimum of what you should know and define before starting your visual branding. Knowing all of this will help you step forward with confidence and make everything that follows easier.
Once you have all this figured out, you can then start thinking about visuals including color, typography and imagery.
There are also several different ways to go forward with your visual identity. The first would be to make it yourself. The second to purchase a logo template and customize it. The third to purchase a brand template and have it customized (shop mine here). The fourth is to hire a brand designer to make something completely custom (hire me).
Explore your options and choose whatever fits your budget and makes sense for you right now in your business.
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