It’s Saturday morning, and you’re taking a trip to the furniture store. 

You see a superb new wardrobe and decide to purchase it. The employee asks if you need someone to help you install it and you say no. You've got this. You're excited about the storage and aesthetic possibilities as you drive home with the flat pack in your trunk. You get it home and open up the package. 
Wait.
What are all these pieces? Why are the instructions just drawings? Am I seriously missing a bolt? What is this tiny screwdriver for?  
How do I put this together and get the result promised at the store? 
Establishing a brand can feel just like that. Taking all the seemingly random pieces of what makes your business your business, and putting them together to share who you are with your customers can feel like a huge feat, even for the most established stores.
There was a time when your company’s logo was the be-all end-all for your brand, but those days are gone.  In the age of social media, a brand’s story, voice, and design work together to call out to your customers.  

Let’s lay out what you need to assemble your brand in a simple way, so you can get back to business. 

The Story

These days, you have to consider any social media shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as much as your own website. Content is everywhere. How do you make yours stand out in the crowd? Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO says 
“Your brand is what people say about you after you leave the room.”  
What will people say when you leave the room and how can you influence it? 
You need to start by defining who you are and what you do. How does what you present differ from what your competitors offer? What’s your competitive advantage? These are questions any marketing team should be able to answer in their sleep. Use this information to form what you want your brand to say.

The Customer Profile

You have found your niche within your market and need to use this to narrow down who you’re speaking to, how you’re delivering your message and how they’ll remember your business.  The most effective way to do this is a customer profile.
Let’s dig deeper into who your target market is. Study your existing customers. Are they younger or older? What gender might they identify with? How much money might they make? Where do they live? Where else might they be getting the product or service you offer right now?
You can use this information to connect with your customers to share your story and mission and to stand out. 
Putting yourself in the shoes of your customer can be fantastically insightful when creating your brand story and voice. This way, you understand the struggle your customers are facing, what you may have tried already that didn’t work, and what you need. Use your brand to create and embrace a community and culture. 

Core Values

Next, let’s dig a little deeper. What are your brand’s core values, what you stand for and believe in? Likely you have built a culture within your company, or rules of engagement for your employees.  
Your messaging and brand should be built on these values. When your company has strong values, these resonate within your customers and with potential customers and give them a way to identify with your brand. 
Let’s think about Apple for a moment. One of their core values “Think different” is also their slogan. This is also the way many Apple users identify themselves. Values are more than pretty words on a webpage, they give your audience a way to emotionally connect with your brand. Steve Jobs, the Former CEO and Co-Founder of Apple, said it himself:
“To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
Your values should set the tone for everything you do, from product releases to marketing. By cultivating clear and firm brand values, you draw people in and help them to understand how you stand apart from your competitors. 

Culture

Your business’ core values are the building blocks of a strong company and customer culture. Culture is created through images, messaging, products, advertising, and core business ideas. Culture defines how your business innovates and makes choices, and how your customers identify themselves. For example:

Lululemon is for women who are serious about Yoga and fitness.

CartKit is for entrepreneurs.

Apple is for young, tech-savvy people.

Let’s imagine for a minute that you own the furniture store we mentioned earlier. There are plenty of other furniture stores in your area. Some of them more, or less expensive. Modern or classic. 
Maybe your store offers eco-friendly pieces in monochromatic colors with clean lines. You have a simple, well-designed logo. Your store plays soft music that blends into the background. The store has a systematic floor plan which guides customers to see as many products as possible. 
For your furniture store, your culture and brand are probably geared towards modern, eco-friendly minimalists. This works especially well because this plays to an existing niche, and your brand is built to appeal directly to them.
When you can effectively create brand culture, you help carve out your niche as people who are “the type of person” to use your product or service. Giving people a sense of belonging helps solidify them as customers, and encourages them to share your business with like-minded people. 

Look the Part

If you want your customers to trust you and your business, you need to look legitimate. A tossed together website and logo, with no social proof or content may send customers running in the opposite direction. Even if your website looks pretty good, it may not convey your brand as best as it can.
Think about your design for a moment. What fonts do you use? What sort of design elements do you have repeating over your website? Does your logo reflect your business and brand? What do you want people to feel when they land on your website?

Let’s look at CartKit’s website:
Notice how clean everything is. How well it scrolls and flows into itself. It is bright and inviting. The language used conveys a very distinct tone and is consistent throughout the entire site.  
Typically, when building your design, you need to consider: 
  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Typography
  • Design System
  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Iconography
  • Data visualization
  • Interactive elements
  • Video and motion
  • Web design
You want people to gravitate to your website, and to your products. Find a style that suits your brand, and carry it throughout all of your messaging and content. 
While you need to have all these things, simply having all these elements in place is not enough. The execution of branding needs to be on point as well. Remember ASMR- No, not the sea of nail-clicking, whispering, chewing videos on youtube. Your branding should be:

Authentic- It should stand out among the competition, and appeal to a specific niche.

Scaleable- It should be able to grow and evolve with your business

Memorable- It should make a visual and mental impact on the viewer. 

Relateable- Messaging, and design align with your customers and your culture. 

Check out the competition

At this point, You may be tempted to open up a competitor’s website to see what they’re doing. Maybe you’ve heard that copying is the most sincere form of flattery, but in business, this is the last thing you want to do. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on what your competitors are doing by any means though!
You need to have a strong understanding of where your competitors are, who they have carved out as their niche, and what their messaging looks like. Use this information to reveal what they might be missing, what makes you different and how you can use those differences to increase your brand’s visibility. 
You do not want to blend in. You need to understand how your brand compares visually and in the message. A great way to do this is to build a competitive analysis. If you haven’t done one before, here’s a handy guide on how it works. 
Think about your business and where it is now. Think about where it can grow.
After reading this post, do you have any new ideas on how you can strengthen your brand?
There are likely opportunities to strengthen your brand voice and culture within your business. While you cannot be certain everyone will perceive your brand the way you intend, you can use the lessons here to create a strong, aesthetically pleasing brand your business can build on for years.