Let’s stop putting the cart before the horse. Small businesses tend to do that when it comes to brand building. In the rush of a product launch or the opening of their first brick and mortar store, they find a color palette that works for them, drum up a logo, and go with the catchy tagline that came to them in the shower last week. While those are part of the brand building process, of course, in the end, your brand should represent so much more than a color palette. And to establish a lasting brand identity, you have to go back to the start.

Here are five key elements of brand identity design that will point you in the right direction.

 1. Let your mission drive brand development.

Before jumping into anything, begin by establishing your business’s core strengths. In other words, why did you begin this business in the first place? Your brand’s purpose may be best represented by a mission statement that clearly outlines your central values. A strong mission statement can serve as an internal compass, helping guide your brand development process from the start.

2. Key in on your audience.

If you try to be everything for everyone, you run the risk of diluting your brand, and with no clear sense of self or no consistent selling points, you can be easily forgotten. Take the time to target your audience and identify those key customers that would be most interested in your product or service. Females age 20-40? Middle-aged golfers? College students with little money, but lots of time? Get specific. It will help you better create a brand that’s sure to appeal to those most likely to convert.

3. Create a value statement that everyone can use.

Similar to an elevator speech or pitch deck, develop a strong description of your business that is true to you and your ultimate goals. It should describe who you are, what you do, and why customers should be interested. A description like that (in conjunction with your mission statement) can help guide your brand development process and ensure your creativity down the road is consistent with your values.

4. Look at what other people are doing. Then do it better.

Roll up your sleeves and do some research on your competition. Develop a competitive analysis that compares websites, taglines, packaging, social media outreach, etc. Once you understand how others are marketing themselves, you can better differentiate your own business, helping it stand out from the crowd.

5. Start building out your brand.

Now comes the fun part! With a solid base established, it’s time to build out the customer-facing side of your brand. That may involve developing a style guide, establishing brand personas and a personality, creating a creative strategy, website, social media channels, etc.

Be sure to refer back to those key tenants you built in the beginning to ensure brand consistency. Remember your original mission, targeted audience, and value statement as you choose colors, develop a tagline and begin developing an online presence – they are just as important, maybe even more so!

If you have any questions about how to build out a successful brand for your small business, feel free to contact the experts at GROW anytime. Get started by enrolling in our Intro to GROW free class to better understand all the different programs and services we have to offer!