The Only Branding Checklist Entrepreneurs Will Ever Need
Starting your own business is exciting, and the idea is just adrenaline-inducing. These strong feelings are indeed great foundations to give you the needed push to launch your profitable business, but then you realize... you don’t really know where to start.
We totally get it. We understand that the beginning of anything can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here, we have compiled a helpful checklist to help you lose the overwhelm and know where to begin in a more streamlined, purposeful way. Ready? Let’s go!
1. Have a Clear Vision and Set Your Goals
It’s normal to be all hyped-up and excited to launch your business right away, but it is important that you have a solid vision and have your goals set before putting your brand out there.
Spend time with a pen and paper or just simply sit in front of a computer. Lay out your vision and goals, and be ridiculously honest with yourself. Why are you starting this business? Is the reason aligned with your passion? What is your driving force? And try not to edit your thoughts as you’re going. Write the exact words that come to your mind, this will only add to the authenticity of your brand.
Giving straight-to-the-point answers to these questions will give you the clarity to visualize the direction of your business.
2. Find your Niche
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This phrase allowed me so much peace when I was streamlining the services I offer and I encourage you to use it when you’re trying to find your focus. When someone claims to be #allthings to #allpeople it can be perceived as too good to be true. When “too good to be true” registers, most people go elsewhere.
Trust me, take the time to be really honest with yourself and sort your expert skills from your soft skills. When you have that list of expertise, CLAIM that space! You will find that the clarity you gain from that list will give you the confidence to propel bolder and faster in the direction of growth. As an added bonus, your ideal client will have an easier time finding you because you have claimed specific authority - and they will be looking for an expert.
3. Develop your Visual Identity
With your full understanding of your brand’s purpose, your expert service offerings, and your ideal clients, it’s time to start attracting them visually. This is the fun part where you finally get to see everything coming together in a visual way.
While branding is much more than just a logo, the logo is at the core of your brand identity. In order for it to be effective, it needs to be simple, concise and uniquely you. Your logo will set the stage for attracting your ideal clients and intrinsically afford you the confidence to pursue them, so it is best to do it right from the get-go and launch with pride!
4. Decide on Your Color Palette and Fonts
One thing you will hear me talk about over and over again is the importance of visual consistency. Along with your logo, having a brand color palette and a small suite of fonts across every piece of marketing material that speaks your brand, is vital to creating recognition and brand power.
Whether it’s a blog post graphic, a magazine banner ad, a shopping bag that goes home with your customer, a Facebook cover or even the header of your e-newsletter, it is crucial that they are uniformed and adhere to your branding guidelines.
Ensuring that your branding design guidelines are consistently implemented demonstrates commitment and professionalism in your field. If you’re not a startup and you’re about to start over, read this post about seamlessly transitioning from your brand’s heritage logo here.
5. Consistency in Social Media
Now that you have your visual identity set, the next step is expanding those visuals across your social media accounts. I’m sure you know that feeling when you start to search and have to dig through a few posts to make sure it's who you were looking for - your commitment to consistency will pay off and eliminate the frustration for the people trying to find you!
Preferably, your social media handles are the same for each platform so you can easily be found. But don’t stress if your chosen handle is no longer available! Just be creative and tweak it. Tip - that doesn’t mean tweak the spelling of your brand, but rather abbreviate or try adding a symbol.
The importance of having the same visual representation (ex: similar profile picture, banner or avatar) across each platform will be relevant in this case, because if your target clients look for your handle and they can’t find it, they can easily recognize your photo.
6. Build your Website
The leading mistake entrepreneurs make is skipping steps 1-5 and jumping straight into website design, even before establishing their brand identity. This can contribute to the mix messaging of a brand, a less than stellar launch, and even contribute to failure. Among those reasons, I personally can attest to this approach causing confusion in yourself as an entrepreneur and lead you down a road of start, stop and start again, only to end up stressed and ultimately, burnt out.
Essentially, your website is your main marketing tool, and it puts you on the map. It also validates your business and establishes you as a professional. I know that when I am searching for a salon in my area, a new dentist or any other business, I always start my search online. If I come across a website that hardly functions, is outdated, or poorly designed, I subconsciously judge their commitment to their business and their rule them out as professionals in their field. Ask yourself, do you do the same? Needless to say, a website is the digital front door to your business and driving a significant (and ever-growing) amount of customers your way or in the way of your competitor. Simply put, your website is a wise investment for businesses that want to continue to thrive.
When you have followed through with the previous steps, you are officially ready to get someone to build your website for you. Again, it’s best to get your web designing and developing needs from an actual professional.
A neatly designed and developed website that aligns with your brand identity can result in high traffic, and thus high quality leads! Remember: A great website is a great investment.
There are many other elements to building your brand, as well as maintaining it as your business grows, however, these six items give you a great place to start!
Are you interested in working together to craft a creative brand identity for your business? Start by scheduling a one-on-one call here.
We have created a FREE checklist workbook for you to organize your thoughts!