A Comprehensive Guide for Small Businesses: How to Build A Brand From Scratch (Updated March 2019)

Brian Mechem

Brian Mechem

You’ve zeroed in on a great product to sell and you’ve already laid the foundation of your small business. However, you’re still unsure of how to build a brand. If this is the situation you’re in right now, don’t worry - you’re in the right place. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to build a brand from scratch.

Be it an online or an offline business, you need to ensure that you build your brand well. Brand building is certainly one of the most important ways to grow your business. However, it is not an easy task to build a brand from scratch.

The reason for this is simple. Whenever you build anything from scratch, you need to put in a lot of effort and planning. The same applies to brand building too.

What exactly do we mean by building a brand? Your brand isn’t just your logo or a recognizable name; it is a lot more than that. Building a brand is about making sure that your target audience perceives your business as a valuable one. It involves factors that you can control as well as ones that you can’t.

Let’s take a look at this step-by-step guide to help you build your brand from scratch.

1. Identify Your Target Audience

Before you learn how to build a brand, you need to first have a target audience in mind. This is the audience you need to focus on when you decide on your brand-building strategies. If you target an audience that is not relevant, all of your efforts will go down the drain.

So you need to identify your target audience on the basis of their locations, demographics, and interests. You can start off by focusing on one or two of the most important audience segments. You can later work on perfecting your targeting for more accurate results.

Remember, having a broad audience means lower relevance to individuals and relevance is all that matters in marketing. If your target audience is small but highly-relevant, you’re all set to build your brand.

2. Research Your Competitors

Remember, you’ll never be the only business in the market. You will always have competitors. While we may perceive competition to be a roadblock, you can use it to your advantage too.

By looking at your competitors, you can learn a lot about how they market their brand. You should check out their logos and the ways they interact with their customers. You don’t necessarily need to follow exactly what they’re doing. However, they will definitely give you an idea of what to do.

You can use them as a base and try to come up with better ways. Competitor research has a lot of advantages. While you can pick up their good qualities and improve upon them, you can also spot the bad ones.

Such research will help you create a strategy to build your brand. Whether you’re looking for how to build a brand from scratch or have a brand already, competitor research always helps.

For online businesses, there are many competitor research tools available out there like SEMrush. While SEMrush can be used to analyze your own website’s performance, you can also use it to analyze that of others.

SEMrush

Image via SEMrush

You can see your competitors’ backlinks, keywords, traffic, ranking pages, etc. All of this data can provide you with valuable insights into how they manage to reach their target audiences. It will also give you information about their target audience as well.

However, if you are just starting out, and don't want to invest money into such software, then you can do your competitor research manually.

Here are some ways to find competitors in your niche and research them:

  • Do a Google search for your product category or niche and see what names pop up. Check out their websites and social media pages to understand their brands and how they differentiate themselves from others.

  • Eavesdrop on social media or Reddit conversations related to your niche and see what brands are being mentioned the most.

  • Search for popular hashtags in your niche and do a hashtag search on social media. See what brands are using those hashtags.

This is nowhere as comprehensive as using a tool, but at least you’ll get a basic lay of the land.

To conclude, if you want to learn how to build a brand, then competitor research is an essential step in the process. Search for your competitors and then build a brand that is different and better than theirs.

3. Make Your Brand Unique

In a pool of a million other brands, it can be difficult to stand out. This is why you need to make your brand unique. Be it your business plan, your product, your marketing methods, or even your customer service.

If you can offer something different to your customers, they will remember you. Try to do things differently than what other brands in your niche are doing.

With competitor research, you will have an idea of what others are doing. You must innovate and come up with something unique to stand out from the rest.

4. Define Your Brand's Focus

When you’re thinking about how to build a brand, you should also keep your brand's focus in mind. Especially when you’re just starting out.

You can’t provide solutions to every problem for everyone out there. You need to focus on what you do best and offer just that. You need to include this in your positioning statement. Your positioning statement talks about how you can cater to the needs of your customers better than your competitors.

Your positioning statement should essentially include your product or service, your target market, and your uniqueness factor. It sends out a clear message about what your brand wants to achieve.

5. Define Your Brand's Personality

One of the most important steps while learning how to build a brand is to identify and define your brand’s personality.

Just because your brand is not a person, doesn’t mean it can’t have a personality. In fact, it is very important to develop a personality for your brand. It gives your brand a more human touch.

You should start by defining your brand as a person from the very beginning. It will help you connect better with your target audience as well.

You should take your time and think about your brand’s personality. Would your brand identify as male or female? As an old person or a young one? What would its mannerisms be like? What are your brand’s likes and dislikes? Based on this information, you can define a complete persona for your brand.

Shopify

Image via Shopify

When your brand has a personality, people will interact more with it just as they do with people. You should maintain this persona of your brand everywhere. Be it in conversations with customers and in other matters of business.

There is a lot you can do based on your brand’s personality. You can even use it in your marketing strategy. What colors will be associated with your brand? What will your brand’s logo look like? What will your brand’s tone be? Everything can be answered based on your personality.

A solid brand personality will help you establish the core of your brand. When this base is solid, you can start building upon it to create a memorable brand.

6. Come Up With a Name For Your Brand

No list that tells you how to build a brand is complete without including this. An essential step in building any brand is to give it a name.

A brand is a lot more than just its name. However, as the owner of a business, your company’s name is one that that will not change once it’s been decided. It is one of the biggest commitments that you’ll have to make.

The name will have an impact on your logo, your marketing strategy, your trademark, etc. A business name needs to be unique and easily distinguishable. You should try to keep it broad enough so even if you plan on expanding, you can still use it.

You could come up with a totally new name, use a suggestive word, combine two words, or even use acronyms. There are many ways to name your company. Since this name will affect your domain names as well, you should always research before finalizing one.

7. Pick Your Colors And Fonts

Yes, the colors and the fonts that you choose will impact your brand too. Just having a brand name isn’t enough. The colors and the fonts you choose will impact your website and other branding materials.

The colors that you use not only define your brand but also express the feeling you wish to communicate. Ideally, the colors should make you unique and set you apart from your competitors.

Different colors communicate different feelings. Here’s a short guide about the feelings each color evokes:

Colors And Fonts

Image via The Logo Company

When choosing a multitude of colors in the logo, you should see how visible they are too. Along with the colors, you should consider your fonts too. Sift through the countless available fonts and zero in on one or two fonts.

You can have different fonts in your logo, your headings, as well as the body text. Make sure that you see how well each font looks beside the other ones.

8. Come Up With a Slogan

A slogan or tagline is not a necessity but it is definitely a very handy asset for any business. Very briefly, it conveys what your business wishes to achieve. You can use it on your social media accounts, website, business cards, etc.

Brandchannel

Image via Brandchannel

A slogan, unlike your brand name, can change over time. As you start finding different angles for marketing, you can change your slogan. In fact, big organizations like Pepsi have used more than 30 slogans in the past.

There is no fixed way of writing a slogan. However, you can keep the following points in mind while coming up with your own:

  • Create a metaphor in your slogan - for example, “Red Bull gives you wings” from Red Bull.
  • Literally describe your brand - for example, “Beanz Meanz Heinz” by Heinz.
  • Make your claim - for example, “The World’s Strongest Coffee” by Death Wish Coffee.
  • Use labels - for example, “A party game for horrible people” by Cards Against Humanity.
  • Make it rhyme - for example, “The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup” by Folgers Coffee.
  • Showcase your customers’ attitude - for example, “I’m Lovin’ It” by McDonald’s.

Slogans usually tend to stick in the minds of your customers. They are a great way to build your brand’s image and reinforce it. Through your marketing campaigns, you can use your slogans to your advantage and improve brand recall among your audience.

9. Create Your Logo

Your brand’s logo will appear everywhere. It works like the face of your company and is one of the most important parts of branding. If you’re looking to learn how to build a brand, logos are an important part that you must not miss.

Just like your name and the slogan, the logo of your brand needs to be unique too. You don’t want a logo that can be confused with that of other brands, especially your competitors. The logo should also be scalable to different sizes as you’ll need to use it everywhere.

You should take into account every single place where your brand logo might be needed. From your website pages to the favicons in your browser tabs, your logo appears everywhere. It will even appear on your social media profiles, so you need to make sure that it can fit any format.

If you have a text-based logo, you can have an alternative square version of the logo. The square version can be used in places where text logo won’t work effectively. For example, Facebook has a text-based logo but also has a square logo with the alphabet “f” in it.

Just like the slogans, you have a wide variety of options for creating your logo.

a. Abstract Logos

These logos usually have no meanings. They are just made up of different shapes and colors. You can create them from the scratch and bring them to life in the minds of your customers. The logo of Google Chrome, for example, is an abstract logo.

Google Chrome

Image via 1000 Logos

b. Emblem Logos

These logos usually are circular in shape and have both text and an emblem in them. This gives them a classy look which can easily fit in the minds of consumers. However, ensure that you don’t stuff them with text or they will look too crowded and lose their impact. The logo of Starbucks is a brilliant example of an emblem logo.

Starbucks-2

Image via 1000 Logos

c. Lettermark Logos

If you’re wondering how to build a brand logo which incorporates acronyms, it’s this one. In lettermark logos, you turn the initials of your business name into the logo. This can help make it easy for the customers to remember your company. IBM is a great example of this type of logo.

IBM

Image via Brands of the World

d. Wordmark Logo

Wordmark logos consist of your brand name. In these logos, you turn your brand name into a logo by incorporating the brand’s colors and fonts. This gives your brand name a visual identity too.

facebook-1

Image via Brands of the World

When developing such a logo, you should keep in mind that you have a scalable version of the logo ready. You can turn the first letter into a separate logo or get another icon logo. As mentioned earlier, Facebook is the perfect example of the wordmark logo.

e. Icon Logo

If you have come up with a mascot for your brand, you can have a logo based on the mascot itself. These logos have the face of a particular character in them. This gives your brand a more human touch.

Twitter-1

Image via StickPNG

f. Mascot Logo

They are not used much nowadays but if you’re looking for a retro look, these are the logos to go for. The KFC logo is a fine example of mascot logo.

KFC

Image via Logok

They are not used much nowadays but if you’re looking for a retro look, these are the logos to go for. The KFC logo is a fine example of mascot logo.

f. Combination Logo

Combination logos are hybrid logos that incorporate various styles of logos into one. You don’t necessarily need to stick to one type of logo when you’re starting off. Why not use multiple types of logos and pick the best aspects of all and pack them into one logo?

McDonald’s-1

Image via McDonald’s Wiki

This also makes it easier for you to create a scalable logo and improve the brand recognition. For example, McDonald’s logo incorporated their wordmark and the golden arches. They use the golden arches whenever they can’t fit the wordmark.

10. Utilize the Power of Social Media

If you want to know how to build a brand without social media, the answer is simple - you can’t. In today’s world, you just can’t afford to ignore social media. Facebook has over 2.3 billion monthly active users. That’s almost a third of the world’s population.

Statista-1

Image via Statista

Social media gives you access to all of these people. This is something that no brand can afford to miss. Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers on a more personal level too. It helps you to humanize your brand so consumers can relate to it better.

In order to harness the power of social media effectively, you need to maintain a solid presence on the popular platforms. You should also ensure consistency across all platforms. Your profile bios and messaging need to be consistent across all platforms.

Social media platforms are the best places to showcase your brand’s personality too. You should use the exact voice that you decided upon when you created the personality.

Whenever you interact with your customers or followers, make sure that you interact as a person. Leave any corporate jargon behind and don’t give machine-like responses. Provide tailor-made responses to each message.

This will give your brand a more personal touch and make people trust you more. You could use occasional humor too.

Post meaningful content on social media, consistently. Your content needs to be engaging and relevant to your brand. Also, it needs to be informative so that people find it valuable and should be simple enough to understand.

You should also look at the frequency of posting content. Post too often, and people may feel that you’re spamming them. Post too frequently, and people may cease to be interested anymore. Decide your posting frequency - daily, twice a day, or every other day, and stick to it. This consistency helps grab the attention of viewers.

Whatever content you post, make sure that it includes a visual component too. Visual content connects better with your viewers and can get you more followers. You can even get higher engagement, which will help you build your brand further.

If you’re wondering how to build a brand quickly, here’s a tip for you. Combine the power of social media and influencer marketing to scale up quickly.

Influencers are people who have a large following on social media or their blogs. You could collaborate with them and ask them to endorse your brand.

leggings.guru

Image via Instagram

When people notice a popular social media figure endorsing your brand, they will trust your brand more. This can build your brand image quickly. All you need to do is to find an influencer from your niche and collaborate with them.

You can even increase your blog traffic through influencers. When they put a link to your website in their Instagram Stories or their blog posts, their followers may click on it and visit your website.

However, the process of finding an influencer is a tedious one. Especially when there are a number of fake influencers out there with bots and fake accounts as followers. You need to be careful who you collaborate with as they are going to showcase your brand.

To make your job of finding a good influencer easier, you can use Grin. We have a solid database of thousands of influencers across various platforms, locations, and niches. You can even find their verified contact information and get in touch with them for collaboration.

Through Grin, you can even brief them, send them your product, and see how their content is performing. This makes influencer marketing very easy for you to handle.

11. Seek Outside Opinion

One of the best pieces of advice anyone can give you on how to build a brand is to seek outside help. Get a second opinion.

In the process of building your brand, you might get too involved and miss obvious things. The person closest to something often misses the flaws.

That’s why you need someone from outside your organization to look at it objectively.

Ask your friends for their opinions on your brand logo, personality, and other brand elements that you have picked. Or, you can ask potential customers how they feel about your brand.

Think of this as a beta test before the launch of a product. Only, this beta test would be for your brand.

If you want to build a brand that’s different and can connect with your target audience, then you need to factor in outside opinions.

12. Evolve with Time

If you ask for a surefire recipe for how to build a brand, there is no such thing. Brand building doesn’t stop at creating a logo, slogan, or doing all of the above. You need to consistently keep improving your strategy over time.

You need to reevaluate your brand building strategy from time to time to reach perfection. A great way to do this is to have a branding strategy guide. You can use this guide to ensure that you’re sticking to the instructions. When required, you can make changes to the guide and improve it.

It takes a lot of hard work and patience to build a brand that is successful, memorable, and unique. You’ll need to check what’s working for you and what’s not. You can learn a great deal from your customers. Based on your interactions with them, you’ll learn more about them and how you should interact with them. This will help you to build your brand and keep improving it.

Conclusion

If you want a magic formula for how to build a brand, then one does not exist. However, these steps will surely take you far on your quest to learn how to build a brand.

There is no one formula for building a brand. You’ll need to follow every step mentioned above religiously and do a lot more. Brand building is a continuous process, and the best way forward is to be consistent. Consistency ensures that you can get your brand’s name out there, clearly.

Can you think of any other ways to build a brand from scratch? If so, please share them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.


Brian Mechem

Brian Mechem

Brian Mechem is CRO and Co-Founder of GRIN, the #1 software solution for direct-to-consumer brands who run influencer marketing programs. GRIN's software powers some of the best influencer programs in the world, providing insights on ROI and adding efficiency to the influencer marketing process.

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