Developing a business brand

A strong brand can help your business attract new customers and retain existing ones. If you decide you need a brand for your business, it should be fully developed before you begin using it in advertising or on marketing material. A brand can give your business direction and it should be included in your overall business planning.

Conduct market research

Research your market and look closely at your competitors. Consider the size of the market and who your potential customers are. Work out what will make your business stand out - this is commonly referred to as your competitive advantage.

Use our market research kit to find key economic, demographic and statistical information about your industry.

Think about successful brands

Think about brands for products or services that you instantly recognise and why they are successful. An internet search on branding will provide numerous articles and guides on branding from business experts.

Consider your entire business

Branding is about more than just a logo - it should encompass every aspect of your business. Your brand needs to be reflected in your:

Be authentic

Your brand should reflect the personality and values of your business. When you are developing a brand, make sure you are honest about what your business is like and who your customers are. Customers can be put off if their experiences with a business are different from what the branding promises to deliver.

Tell the story of your business

You can start developing your brand by considering the story of your business - how it started, what you hope to achieve, who you hope to appeal to. Your story should be a key component of your brand.

Seek professional advice

While it might be tempting to design your own logo to save money, unless you have the required skills and experience, you will benefit from seeking professional help. A professional branding consultant or designer can work with you and develop a brand based on the vision for your business.

It's worth getting quotes from different professionals who have experience developing brands. Talk about what you hope to achieve with them, and ask to see their portfolio of work. If you have a small budget, you could use a design contest, which is similar to tendering. Through a design contest website, you can set your design brief and your budget and a network of designers can view it and submit designs. You can request changes to designs you like before you pick a winner. This can be cheaper than hiring a professional as many of the designers are students, but it can still produce a better result than if you did it yourself.

You may also need to seek legal advice for issues such as intellectual property, patents and trademarks.

Keep an open mind

If you decide to hire a professional to help you develop your brand, it's important to keep an open mind. While you will probably have a few ideas of how you think your brand should look, a brand expert might advise against some of these ideas based on their experience. You will still have input so you are happy with the result, but by keeping an open mind you are more likely to develop a brand that stands out from your competitors.

Keep it simple

Keep your branding simple and relevant to the types of customers you are trying to attract. Adding too many elements, such as colours, fonts and images, can make your brand difficult to use and hard to recognise. A simple brand is easier for customers to understand, and will convey a strong message about what your business is like and what customers can expect.

Be consistent

Make sure you are consistent in the way you use your brand. A good way of managing a brand is to develop a style guide or manual. This will include all the elements of your brand, from fonts and colours through to communication style. Numerous examples of branding style guides are available on the internet.

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