Some businesses lack personality. It’s hard to remember what sets them apart from their competitors. Other businesses have so much personality that they leave a lasting impression on every one of their customers.

You want your brand to fall into the latter category. And to accomplish that, you’ll need to build a strong brand identity. Here’s our advice on how to get started.

Laying a Foundation

The first three steps involve defining your brand’s objectives and getting to know your niche.

Know Your Mission and Your Values

You probably already know how to describe your business’ physical goods and services. But articulating your brand’s core philosophies is a trickier task.

Take some time to think about your business’ mission statement. Aside from making a profit, what do you hope to achieve? What’s the greater purpose behind your products?

Tesla says its mission is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” It’s a simple statement that offers insight into the brand’s priorities.

You should also jot down your values. These are principles that guide your business decisions and help you relate to consumers. For example, one of Apple’s core values is prioritizing simplicity over complexity, and that often manifests in its user-friendly products.

Research Your Audience

Your target audience is the group of people most likely to buy your products and agree with your brand’s mission and values. For example, Tesla’s audience includes people who are both environmentally conscious and able to afford cutting-edge technology.

Get specific as you zero in on demographics. Are your customers more likely to be men or women? Do they live in a certain region? What’s their age range, and have they likely achieved a certain level of education?

Knowing these details will be useful when you begin to establish your brand’s voice and messaging.

Research Your Competitors

Unless you’ve invented something the world has never-ever seen before, you’re going to be facing competitors who inhabit the same industry. Research those rivals, especially the really successful ones. You might learn a thing or two about the industry or the customers.

But your goal isn’t to copy all of their slogans and social media tactics. Your goal is to find ways to make your brand stand out from the rest. How is what you’re offering different from what your competitors are offering?

The Creative Elements

As you move onto the more creative aspects of building a brand identity, never lose sight of your principles, your audience or what makes your brand unique.

Create a Name and Logo

You want the name of your brand to be easy to remember. Alliteration works well, but it’s not essential for success. Keep it simple, creative and easy to pronounce.

The logo is almost just important as the name. It gives consumers a visual – a face to picture when they hear the name. The logo can be simplistic like Nike’s swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches. Or it can be a little more complex, like the Starbucks’ siren. Most importantly, it has to be unique and recognizable.

Choose Your Colors and Typography

These more subtle elements also give your brand a personality. So, start by jotting down a few adjectives that describe your brand.

Do you want consumers to see you as a classy jeweler? A playful merchant of children’s toys? A rugged brand that sells camping equipment? Or maybe a sleek and sharp tech startup?

Use your adjectives to decide on a color scheme and font. For example, a toymaker might use bubbly font and bright colors such as yellow and red.

Develop a Voice

The writing style you use to connect with your customers should be consistent in your ads, company blog and social media posts. Again, you’ll want to rely on your list of adjectives to develop an appropriate voice. A laid-back gardening business will sound different from a high-energy gym.

Don’t shy away from gradually refining your voice – or other brand elements – as you learn more about what appeals to your customers. But avoid sudden shifts that might confuse your audience.

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