5 Ways to Prepare for Your Branding Process
I like to think of branding as a marriage of sorts. You have to come into it having considered what you need to be successful for the long run. You have to understand that it is an on-going, constantly evolving process. And last but certainly not least, good intentions and lots of love at the beginning aren't enough; you have to keep putting in effort. Some people opt to get pre-marriage counseling to make sure that they are on the right (and same!) page. We need to get you and your growing business on the same couch, dreaming about what the future holds for the two of you and how you can help each other achieve it. Consider this your pre-branding counseling for post-branding success.
1. FINALIZE YOUR COMPANY DETAILS.
Regardless of whether this is initial branding or rebranding, it's important that you do this step. If nothing else, it will be a good introduction for your designer to what it is your business does and how it runs.
NAME: What is your business name? Do you have an abbreviated version of the name?
This a beginning step for, well, obvious reasons.
CONTACT INFO: Phone number? Email address? Mailing address?
This is not only essential for contacting you with design updates, but information for web design, social media accounts, business cards, etc.
JOB ROLES: Are you the owner, president, CEO, founder...? Do you have employees with defined roles?
This is great information for your designer to have in order to give them a scope of the project and down the road can also be used to easily create an About page and personalized business cards for employees.
2. DETERMINE YOUR TARGET MARKET.
You can't accurately sell to people if you don't know who the people you want to sell to are. There are four basic factors that you need to consider: age, gender, income, and geographic location. (I break those categories down more on my branding questionnaire and website questionnaire.) And then you should think about whether the people you are trying to attract are the people who are actually buying the product or whether there is an in between person.
BIKINIS: Chances are that you are selling to women. You might get the occasional man who is buying for a woman, but bikinis tend to be very size specific and that would be difficult. So you're selling to women, probably younger women as older women don't usually wear bikinis. Chances are that their income is at least middling since going to a pool, owning a pool, or going to a lake/beach/etc. requires money and free time. The geographic location depends on if you sell from a brick and mortar store with no website/shipping of goods, a brick and mortar store with a website/willingness to ship goods, or an entirely online store.
BLOCKS: Now you're selling building blocks to children. But you aren't really because children don't have money and can't reach the counter to pay. So you want your product to appeal to children, so that they beg their parents, and in turn the parents buy the building blocks. That means that you've actually got to attract two target audiences. Make it colorful and pictoral for the kiddies and tout the educational and creative properties of the product for the parents.
3. DECIDE WHAT YOU NEED.
Your designer needs to know what you absolutely, without a doubt require from your branding process. Are you looking for a logo, branded paper goods, swag for your clients, a website, a combination of those things? Your designer will probably also have suggestions for additional things that you might not have considered, but what you need will drive this design train. Here are some things to consider:
logo: full, abbreviated, and alternate forms
thank you notes
swag: pens, tumblers, bags, apparel
4. THINK ABOUT YOUR DO'S AND DO NOT'S.
I've said it before, I'm saying it now, and I'll say it again. (I'm nothing if not thorough.) Consider what you require in your branding (your "do's"), what you couldn't put up with (your "do not's"), and what falls in between. Just because it's your favorite color doesn't mean that it needs to be your business' branded color, but if you have your heart set on a shield type logo, your designer should know that. Whether or not they want to play ball is a separate issue - sometimes they know better than you do! - but if they want to do what you want to have done, it's easier for them to know from the beginning. It's rather disheartening to make something based on the specs you were given, return it to the client, and find out that it is completely not what they wanted (that's totally fine) but that they knew what they were looking for and just didn't say it. If you don't have a super clear idea of what you want, that's peachy. I've always found it more helpful when people clearly define their "do not's." "Do's" are all fine and dandy, but designers are designers for a reason. They understand how to make things sell. If there's something you truly detest and can't have associated with your brand, they can probably easily avoid those.
5. PLAN TO BE AVAILABLE.
Your designer might have questions along the way and the faster you respond, the faster you get your finished product. And most designers are working with multiple clients at the same time, so your timely responses are not only great for you, but great for them too. I'm not saying that you have to be attached to your email or phone 24/7 for the duration of your branding process, but being available will certainly help. Don't schedule this for a time that falls anywhere in conjunction with your 2 week family vacation. It will distract you from you're doing, you won't be able to give it the time and thought it needs, and your designer probably won't be a happy camper either.
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