Branding. It’s an odd word really. Somehow the application of a searing hot iron to a cow’s backside has become synonymous with the creation of a company’s identity.
Thinking about it though, it’s actually the perfect word for something that’s designed to be instantly recognizable, authentic, and individual.
But, while it’s easy to think that branding applies to big companies only — Nike, Apple, Ikea, Coca Colas etc – in fact smaller businesses and solopreneurs have even more reason to forge their own visual and verbal identity.
What is branding?
Branding is essentially the process of ‘positioning’ — establishing a place in your potential customers’ daily lives so that when they consider whatever it is your business offers, they’ll immediately think of you.
Easier said than done.
Want a burger? A pair of sneakers? A coffee? We have numerous options, right? The choice you make in each instance may well be different to your friends’ and colleagues’ preferences. We’re all different after all — and that’s great.
But, from a company perspective, the more saturated the market you’re operating in, the more distinct you need to make your brand identity.
Conversely, if you’re a new player in a relatively unfamiliar market — the harder your product or service is to understand, the simpler you need to make it from a positioning perspective.
Take blockchain technology, for example — or more specifically, NFTs (aka non-fungible tokens which seem to be getting a lot of media attention of late).
The concept of an NFT as a non-fungible asset does little to stimulate the old grey matter. But positioned as ‘one-of-a-kind digital collectibles’ (as Vancouver startup, Dapper Labs, has) the idea is a lot easier to comprehend.
Why is branding important for solopreneurs?
If you operate a small or solo business, you’re no doubt wearing lots of hats and spinning lots of plates. You might have a killer idea for a new business, and once it’s firmly set in motion and you’re ready to launch it to market, it needs to hit the ground running.
Well, that hinges on a few things — having a customer base, having a profitable business model, and having a standout brand that’s going to reflect your business’ values in a way that sets you apart from the competition.
Here at Khula, we look at building a brand as two distinct disciplines — crafting both a visual identity and a verbal identity. Or, in other words, getting the words and pictures right for your company — and then using them across all of your marketing materials: both on and offline.
Wondering how to kickstart the process? It all begins with asking yourself some questions — to truly understand what your business is, what it offers, and (most importantly) who it serves: who your customers are.
Questions to help you better understand your brand identity
- How would you describe your company’s overall mission? (eg 'We exist to do x for y')
- How does the business fulfill that mission? What’s the ultimate aim? (In order to do x for y we focus on z')
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What problems do your customers have?
- What solutions does your business offer?
- At what point in your customers’ lives/timeline would they come to you? When can you add the most value? How do you work with them?
- How do customers (typically) find out about you?
- Who are your biggest competitors? What do you offer over and above them?
- What relationship would you like to have with your customers — e.g. trusted professional, knowledgeable friend, tech savvy? — How do you want them to perceive your business?
- What three words would you say best describe your ideal brand personality?
- Which other brands (can be unrelated to your industry) do you like? Why?
- Where do you want your business to be in the next five years?
Ultimately, if you understand your customers and how your company can help them prosper, you have an advantage. If you can harness that insight and build an identity around it, the more likely your business is to thrive long-term.
Need some advice on creating a brand identity that stands out – for all the right reasons(!)? Contact the Khula team today! Or why not sign up to our newsletter for more insightful pieces like this — delivered direct to your inbox?