8 Simple Questions Every Business Should Answer When Building Their Brand
Whether you’re starting a brand new business or you’re ready to revamp an existing one, getting clear on your brand from the get-go will help you make better strategic decisions, hire engaged employees, communicate with your audience, and differentiate yourself from your competition. In general, taking the time to thoughtfully build your brand in the beginning allows you to gain clarity around what you want your business to be and why.
Building a brand is an extensive process that doesn’t happen over night, and should involve a thorough, self-reflective deep-dive with an objective third-party. To get you started, we’ve curated a list of eight key questions to ask yourself (or have someone ask you) to kick-off your brand building process:
1. What is your purpose?
Today, people are looking to support companies with a bigger purpose than just selling products or services. Consider what your company’s bigger purpose is and make sure that it’s placed front and centre for your brand, employees, and communication.
Purpose is not what you do as a business, it’s WHY you do what you do, and sorry to say, making money isn’t a “why” that your audience is likely to connect with. Think about why you started the business in the first place, what makes you passionate about it, and what motivates you to get out of bed every morning to pursue it.
2. What are your values?
Make a list of your company’s values and see how you can leverage these values to differentiate your business.
If you have employees, you should involve them in this process too. Ask them why they value working for your company and what motivated them to pursue a career there in the first place.
Consider what’s most important to your business and the culture and atmosphere you want to have, and how that can and should filter through every part of your business.
3. What DON’T you want to be?
When figuring out what you want your brand to be or become, it sometimes helps to figure out what you DON’T want your brand to be first.
It’s just as impactful to create a list of adjectives to describe how you would prefer your brand NOT be perceived alongside ones that you ideally DO want your brand to be perceived as.
Another useful exercise might be to think of other brands or personalities that you’re not drawn to and why. Caution: this isn’t a brand-bashing exercise so much as it is a way to critically evaluate what others are doing and why or why not it aligns with you.
4. Who is your target audience?
Your brand messaging will change depending on the target audience you are trying to reach. Understanding whom your target audience is and shaping your brand messaging accordingly is the best way to effectively communicate your brand. Caution: “everyone” is not a target audience — you’ve got to narrow it down!
Consider who they are, what they do for a living, where they hang out, what they value, etc. Creating a persona or muse for your target audience will help you understand whom you’re talking to every time you need to craft communication.
Don’t be afraid of choosing a target. You will still inevitably reach people who don’t perfectly fit into the persona you’ve built.
5. Who are you competing with?
Too often lately we hear “I have no competition.” We hate to break it to you, but you will always have competition, whether it’s indirect or direct it’s there. Do your research and find out who your competitors are. Observe the things they are doing well, and the things they could improve on — sometimes you can learn from their mistakes.
The thing about competition is not to focus on them too much, but to be aware they exist and pay a small amount of attention to what they are doing. Moreover, sometimes growing competition can be a good thing — it might mean the market demand is increasing for the products or services you offer, which is a good thing, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on it!
6. What makes you different?
Branding is all about differentiation. It’s what sets you apart and what helps communicate to your audience why you are worth engaging over other similar companies.
Think about the things that your company can offer that none of your competitors can — and we aren’t talking product or service. What is polarizing about your brand? What do you stand for and what do you refuse to compromise on?
Need a little guidance? Check out the last three paragraphs in this article by Fabrik on Brand Differentiation.
7. What is your story?
Consumers connect with stories. It’s as simple as that. Think about the most memorable parts of your favourite brands — we bet there is a story in there somewhere.
It’s hard to ignore that fact that people have an innate desire to feel connected and the best way to establish connection is through storytelling and emotion. Consider the story behind the formation of your business. Were there any significant turning points that got you to where you are today? How did you take your business idea to action? Who were the important people who helped you along the way? Creating content around your brand’s story isn’t just fodder for an “About Us” page, it offers a connection point for your employees, customers, and any stakeholders you’ll pick up along the way.
8. What do you want your brand to look like?
While we preach that brand is far more than a logo and colours, it’s hard to ignore the visual component of any business. The visual identity of a brand is usually the first point of contact for a customer, so it’s important to take time in developing the visual aspects of your brand.
When brainstorming your brand’s visual identity, make sure it aligns cohesively with the other elements of your brand, such as your values, goals, personality, and overarching purpose.
Working through these eight questions will give you a solid understanding of your brand and the direction you want it to go. It will help you focus your communications and ensure that you’re targeting and connecting with the right people. More than that, having a thorough grasp on your brand will make business decisions easier because you will know exactly who you are and where you’re trying to go as a company.
If you’re ready to deep-dive into the brand discovery and building process drop us a line at hello@henrykbrandingcom.