The Plum Foundry Guide to Building a Brand: How to Build an Eye-Catching and Memorable Brand You Can Be Proud of Today and Tomorrow
A brand takes a symbol, a colour, or a word or two and turns them into three specific intangibles: anticipation, engagement, and emotion.
It’s the overall perception of your business by customers.
You can amplify the effects of these three mighty intangibles by tapping into other senses.
Think of the drum-lead musical intro for a 20th Century Fox Film, or the smell of your favourite coffee-shop or bakery.
People buy a product because of an emotional connection with the brand.
And people are keen on transacting business with those they know, have a relationship with, and trust.
The following practices will set you apart from the rest and win you customers-whether you’re just starting out or re-branding.
Here we’ll look at branding as two parts of one happy whole.
First, we’ll define the elements that are at the internal core of any great brand.
Second, we’ll outline external steps to take to build your brand.
One follows the other, but as you’ll see, they’re both connected.
Be sure to check out the free resources at the bottom of the page and take actionable steps toward building a great brand.
- The Plum Foundry Guide to Building a Brand: How to Build an Eye-Catching and Memorable Brand You Can Be Proud of Today and Tomorrow
- Part One – The Four Core Elements of a Brand
- Part 2 – External Steps to Building a Brand
- 1. Determine Your Target Audience
- 2. Identify Competitors
- 3. Write a Mission Statement for Your Brand
- 4. Write a Slogan and Tagline for Your Brand
- 5. Choose Your Brands Colours and Fonts
- 6. Design a Logo
- 7. Develop Your Brand Voice
- 8. Create a Brand Message
- 9. Outline the Benefits of Your Brand
- 10. Allow Your Brand to Stand Out
- 11. Be Authentic
- 12. Integrate Your Brand and Business
Part One – The Four Core Elements of a Brand
1. The Vision
What is the vision at the core of your offer?
Generating this vision or big idea means thinking about the happiest possible future outcome.
How do you want this offer to change a community, an industry, or the world for the better? (This is the short version of your mission statement.)
Ikea’s vision: Good design is for everyone.
What is your big idea? Write it down. Once written it is your vision statement.
Every great company needs a vision statement and a mission statement. The better and more clear these are, the better and easier the building of a great brand becomes.
2. The Difference
Good branding shines a spotlight on what makes your offer different, and better, than any other offer.
The best branding focuses on the unique character and uncommon promise of your offer so that it shines with uncommon brightness in both its emotional story and its measurable benefits.
3. Added Value
How does your offer add value to people’s lives?
It is essential to take a good hard look at this element and stay with it until you are completely satisfied that you are adding value greater than your competition.
4. Company Values
What core values are you choosing to instil in the company?
This can be distilled into a single page with seven to ten points.
Here is an example from Coca-Cola:
Leadership: The courage to shape a better future.
Collaboration: Leverage collective genius.
Integrity: Be real.
Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me.
Passion: Committed in heart and mind.
Diversity: As inclusive as our brands.
Quality: What we do, we do well.
Now let’s take a look at the other side of the branding coin.
Part 2 – External Steps to Building a Brand
1. Determine Your Target Audience
Building your brand should be focused on your target audience.
It’s impossible to be everything to everyone.
You have to be specific in order to meet the needs of your audience.
Identifying the right audience will ensure the right person buys your products or services, reads your email, clicks on your ads, etc.
Who do you really want to help?
Many companies have found it helpful to start with a very specific focus on a small audience and build their way up.
Don’t be afraid to start small. This can be your way in. Once successful, you can set a new goal if and when you choose.
2. Identify Competitors
Take a close look at what your potential competitors are doing and figure out how you can do it better.
Know your competition.
These first two steps enable you two find your place in the market.
Now, let’s get building.
3. Write a Mission Statement for Your Brand
Your mission statement answers three questions in a single sentence.
- What do you do?
- How do you do it?
- Why do you do it?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll be able to come up with the appropriate statement.
A mission statement is an expression of what your brand is really passionate about.
It defines the reason your business exists in the most inspirational and aspirational terms you can clearly define.
It may help to start with the happiest end result you can think of and work backwards answering the questions and filling them out as you go.
Let’s look at the example from Feeding America:
Their vision statement or big idea, which is the happiest end result of their endeavour, is:
A hunger-free America
Their mission statement:
“Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”
Before you can generate a great mission statement be sure your vision for the company is clear and on paper.
The vision statement is so crucial that it bears repeating:
What is the vision at the core of your offer? Generating this vision or big idea means thinking about the happiest possible future outcome. How do you want this offer to change a community, an industry, or the world for the better?
In Part 1 we create a vision statement, now we generate a mission statement from the vision by filling in the “how” and the “why.”
Your message, tagline, logo, personality, and voice should all resonate with your mission statement.
4. Write a Slogan and Tagline for Your Brand
Your brand slogan should answer the customer’s question: “Why should I choose this brand?” in a single sentence.
“When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”
Come up with a catchy slogan that helps people remember your brand and helps them quickly identify what they can get from you.
What problem is your offer the solution for?
The slogan is the solution. It is the happy and satisfied state a customer finds themselves in once they come to you to solve their specific problem.
The Tagline is a different sort of animal.
A tagline should accomplish three things: be memorable, act like a punctuation point so that people know your done with your message, and associate your brand with a positive message of something greater.
“Think different” (Apple)
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” (M&Ms)
“Breakfast of champions” (Wheaties)
Take the time to write both a slogan and tagline and clarify your brand message with professionalism.
5. Choose Your Brands Colours and Fonts
This often happens as part of the logo design process, but understanding a little about the psychology of colour can help focus the scope of the logo design process.
Choose your colours wisely after reading the article referenced below.
I would recommend limiting yourself to two colours and two fonts. If you like, you can get a graphic designer’s help and fold this into the next step…
6. Design a Logo
Your logo will be your identity and the vision of your promise.
Here are five actions you can take to design your logo:
- Identify the four internal elements listed here.
- Find inspiration for your logo (see resources below).
- Optional – Check out the competition.
- Select a few design styles.
- Then, either experiment with free logo design sites or hire a designer.
You might need to hire an expert to create the perfect logo for your brand. The designer will develop guidelines for your brand to ensure uniformity for any application of your logo.
Don’t be afraid to invest in a logo design for your brand. You can get this done quite inexpensively if you wish. Or, you can opt for a pro.
Either way, it’s going to take some work. If you hire, be prepared to be unimpressed with the first few designs, but give kind and clear feedback so you and your designer can work toward a win together.
7. Develop Your Brand Voice
The brand voice is how you communicate with customers and how those customers respond to you.
It is the use of language to share the personality of your brand.
This voice depends on your business audience, mission, and industry.
According to your preference, your brand voice can take on different tones such as professional, conversational, technical, friendly, promotional, authoritative, or informative.
To connect with your customers, it’s important you find the right voice for your brand.
Once you’ve chosen a voice, you need to be consistent. This is how you’ll be recognized across multiple channels by your audience.
8. Create a Brand Message
With the voice you’ve created, tell your audience who you really are. This is your chance to make an emotional connection with people.
Your brand message tells customers:
- Who you are
- What you’re offering
- Why customers should care
The message should be clear and concise.
9. Outline the Benefits of Your Brand
In any industry, there will always be bigger brands with more resources at their disposal. To remain relevant and to carve out your own niche you’ll have to come up with something that isn’t offered elsewhere.
This is where value and an unforgettable experience with your brand come in.
Focus on the benefits and qualities that make your brand unique. Then, give your target audience a reason to pick your brand over others. For instance:
- Saves time on everyday tasks
- Provides better and more transparent services
- Is more affordable
10. Allow Your Brand to Stand Out
Your brand stands out when you provide products or services that are tailored to suit the needs of customers.
Are there other ways to make your brand shine? Yes, and this is how: your brand personality should be consistent across all platforms.
11. Be Authentic
Don’t mimic the style of other brands. Strive to be original. Strive to be unique. And above all, be authentic.
Be authentic to your vision and your mission.
Keep an open mind and always be learning about your industry and how to more effectively communicate with your audience. Be open to ideas and learn from the good and bad of your competitors, be open to pivot if you see a new opportunity, but remain authentic to your happy vision of the future.
12. Integrate Your Brand and Business
Your brand needs to be reflected in everything people can hear, read, and see.
Anything intangible and tangible-from your products and business cards to your website and advertisements-needs to have your logo.
When designing your website, incorporate your personality, message, and voice into the content.
Be approachable online. When your social networks are treated as customer service outlets, your brand is bound to succeed. Therefore, ensure your brand shows up for your audience.
Building a recognized brand is a process that requires ongoing effort, forming long-term relationships, and more importantly, patience.
Start with the four internal elements at the core of your business. Then, build on that strong core with the 12 steps outlined here and you’ll be sure to have a brand you can be proud of — today and tomorrow.
Learn how to add even more value to your offer with this comprehensive research from Harvard:
Here are mission Statement examples you can use as inspiration to write your own:
Learn about colour psychology before choosing your brand’s colours:
Find inspiration for your logo and choose a design style here:
If you want to experiment with designing your own logo you can try this:
If you want help designing your logo or help with any other aspect of your brand you can use:
Run your own competition to get crowd assistance for name, design, and tagline elements here: