Startup Branding Cheat Sheet: Create a Brand Image That Resonates with Your Audience

by / ⠀Startup Advice / August 17, 2020
Startup Branding Cheat Sheet: Create a Brand Image That Resonates with Your Audience

Whether you’re a new business owner or have been in the game for awhile, you’ve probably learned by now that it’s important to have a strong brand image. 

And while that’s true, a lot of people don’t really know what that means. 

Most business owners trying to create their brand often spend a ton of time focused on designing the perfect logo, to the point where they get stuck. Don’t get me wrong; creating a great logo is extremely important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of branding.

The most important part of creating a strong brand? Understanding what you offer, and who you’re offering it to

Without a clear vision of what your business is about, it’s impossible to build a brand that sticks. Here’s a one-hour cheat sheet that will teach you how to understand the vision of your business and create a brand image that resonates with your audience. 

Use This Branding Cheat Sheet to Create a Strong Brand Image

This cheat sheet will not only help you come up with a brand image in under an hour, but it will also help you learn how to get your audience to trust — and keep coming back to — your brand. 

Step 1: State your purpose. 

Time: 20 minutes

Have you ever heard the quote, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it?” (Thanks, Simon Sinek!) 

Take it from us: It’s true. At the core of any good brand is your purpose, or knowing why you do what you do. Everyone knows what they do, but only a handful of people and organizations know the reason their business exists in the first place. 

This “why” is what separates brands that fail from brands that flourish. So, to figure out your “why,” first jot down: 

  • What you do – This refers to the products or services your business offers. For example, “I sell makeup and hair care products.”
  • How you do it – Focus on the aspect of your business that makes you unique or distinguishes you from competitors, e.g. “I only use ethically-sourced and ‘green’ ingredients.”
  • Why you do it – What is your purpose? Example: “I believe every person deserves to feel beautiful, without needing to compromise on their values.” 

Step 2. Come up with a brand promise.  

Time: 10 minutes

Your “brand promise” refers to the overall experience you want to deliver to your audience. What makes a brand image strong isn’t the specific things you sell or what you offer — it’s how you make your audience feel when they interact with you.

To understand your brand promise, first you have to narrow down:

  • What are the values behind your brand? Knowing your brand values will help you understand the verbal and visual elements to use that will later help you create your brand image. Don’t be afraid to be abstract here; your values should describe what your business stands for and how you want people to feel when they interact with your brand. For example, Nike’s core values are performance, authenticity, innovation, and sustainability.
  • How should people feel when they interact with your brand? Write down the emotional traits. Try to think of a specific experience you want your audience to have when they think of your brand. 

Know what your brand promise is yet? It should look something like this: 

“My brand promise is that when customers come in contact with me, there will be transparency and comfort in every single interaction. When they walk into my store, I want them to feel like they’ve come home.” 

Step 3. Know your audience. 

Time: 20 minutes

If you don’t have this part nailed down, the other two steps are a waste of time. The whole reason you created a business is to have customers, right? But without knowing who those potential customers are, it will be impossible to create a brand image that they can connect with. 

So, here’s what you need to answer: 

  • Who is your target audience? Get as specific as you can here! Try to imagine the ideal customer for your brand. Give them a name, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Be as detailed as you can be in order to understand who your business serves best. “Women who are looking for makeup” will give you less information than “Middle-aged women who are passionate about clean living and want younger-looking skin, but don’t want to invest time and energy into trying a lot of products.”
  • What do they want to achieve? Of course, limit this answer to what’s relevant to your brand. In keeping with the skincare example, this could look something like “My audience wants to feel beautiful, young, and pampered without compromising on their time or budget.” 

To help you understand your audience, create a customer persona. This is a composite of your ideal customer. With your persona, you add details like age, pain points, motivation, and likes and dislikes. When complete, you can use your persona to make sure you are always on target with your audience messaging and marketing. 

Step 4. Get designing. 

Time: Your choice

This is the part where your logo comes in! Now that you know who your target audience is, why they’re interested in your brand, and what your brand will promise them, it’s time to come up with visuals that will reflect that.

  • Logo – Create a logo that either expresses your brand values or highlights your best-selling product. Your logo can either be just an icon, just your brand name, or a combination of the two. Regardless of how you design your logo, be it with a logo maker or professional designer, make sure that it’s clear, easily readable, and can be resized without compromising the integrity of the design.
  • Color palette – These colors should complement the colors of your logo, and they will be the main colors to appear wherever your brand shows up (your website, social media, a storefront, signage, etc.). Make sure that the colors accurately portray your brand message; i.e. don’t use black if you’re marketing to kids, just like you wouldn’t use a rainbow palette for a funeral home.
  • Typeface –  Choose two or three fonts to use across your website, imagery, and anywhere else your brand appears. Similar to the color palette you’ve chosen, check that your fonts express the right message about your brand. Also, make sure that each font is legible; the last thing you want is to talk to your audience in a way that they won’t understand.
  • Imagery – What kinds of images will you use when you’re communicating with your audience? Decide on appropriate images that encompass your brand values, whether that’s represented by happy people, natural backgrounds, or sleek, high-end products. Of course, your imagery should work well with both your color palette and typeface choices.
  • Voice – This is the tone in which you’ll “speak” to your audience, both in-person and online. Like with the visuals you’ve chosen, make sure that the tone of voice parallels your brand values; you wouldn’t want to have a comforting brand with a sarcastic voice, just like you wouldn’t want a funny and lively brand to be represented by a dull tone. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that your brand image will be successful if your audience can come to rely on it, i.e. if you can build trust with them. Stay consistent with your visuals and tone, and over time, your customers will come to understand that you made them a specific promise — and you deliver every time. 

Time to Create Your Brand Image

Your brand image is ultimately the way that others perceive your brand, but it’s up to you to portray yourself in the ways you want to be seen. Remember to stay consistent with your messaging, and always check if your actions match up with your brand values; it’ll all be worth it once you see that your customers are sticking around. 

About The Author

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Arthur Callum is a marketing specialist, blogger, and freelance writer. He loves writing about marketing and related topics, and he likes to put his money where his mouth is by putting his knowledge into practice in the real world.

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