You have to appreciate what a brand is and what branding is. A brand is defined as a symbolic identity, represented by a name and or logo, which indicates a certain product or service to the public. It could also be defined as a specific product, service, or provider so distinguished. The definition I prefer better is a brand is a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these (and more), used in creating an image that identifies a product or service and differentiates it from its competitors. Our focus today is steps to building a brand for the digital age.

Understand Your Industry And Market First

A brand never exists in a vacuum. Simply put your business or startup exists or will exist amongst other businesses or startups. That is what industry is all about – businesses of the same type are considered as a whole. Examples of industries are software and tourism. Essentially any enterprise falls under a particular industry. Then there is the market. A market means many things one of them is that it is a group of potential customers for one’s products or services. Basically, you have to start off by understanding your industry and market.

This also spans looking at other notable players already existing in your respective industry and market. You will learn what the turf is like. You will find good things to emulate. You will also notice pitfalls to avoid. When you synthesize all of these elements you will be better informed on how to position your own business or startup. It is wise to spend some time, even several months, seeking to understand your industry and market. Strive to draw insights that are evidence-based so that you can systematically apply them to your context.

Define Who You Are (Focus On Differentiation)

This becomes much easier once you have thoroughly done the previous part i.e. industry analysis and market research. Your business or startup must have a unique identity. Who are or what are you? Which products and or services shall you be offering? What is your overall vision? What sets you apart from other players in the same space? In all those aspects your aim should be differentiation. This is pertinent because you will be dealing with competition once you are operational. If you are to make a mark or stand out your business or startup must be unique.

You must have a unique value proposition or unique selling point(s). This has to be a core element of who you are. Your differentiation will stem from a comprehensive understanding of who your target customers are. The foundation and the heart of your unique value proposition are tied to your buyer persona. A buyer persona is a detailed description of what you consider your target or ideal customer. How to enhance your unique value proposition is an article you should check out for more details.

Figure Out Your Audience

Figuring out who you are is often tied to figuring out your audience as well. This refers to your target customers or market. There are demographic attributes of these target customers you should determine. There are so many things you can explore here. Some of the common examples are age, gender, income levels, buying habits, location, pain points, cultural orientations, and so on. It is best to look at as much data as possible. This will help you have a well-defined target audience, market or customers. Doing this is essential to making your brand one that appeals to specific people with specific characteristics.

Think of a scenario where someone is addressing an audience in an auditorium. Imagine an astrophysics professor delivering a lecture to e.g. fine arts students. Information released will not be assimilated and the expected results will never materialize. The same applies to building a brand. Ensure you comprehensively know and understand what makes your target audience. That is the foundation that will enable you to engage with them later on.

Establish Your Voice, Personality, And Story

Fully knowing who you want to talk to is one thing. It is another thing to effectively reach them or get them to grasp your message. That is where your voice comes in as a brand. You have to establish your voice as a business or brand. It is just like us humans, we have unique voices. You can literally identify a familiar voice without seeing the person. The same applies to businesses and startups. You must have a unique personality too.

Brand personality refers to human traits or characteristics associated with a specific business or startup. Some examples of such traits are sophistication, uniqueness, youthfulness, and futurism, amongst others. How did your business or startup come to be? Why do you exist and what do you seek to achieve? These are some of the questions whose answers constitute your story. These 3 elements are instrumental in making people relate with and get attached to your brand.

A/B Testing

We have covered the subject of A/B testing before. It was specifically on the subject of A/B testing in social media. A/B testing (also called split testing) is a research approach where you seek to draw conclusions on how certain tweaks affect a particular area. It is a technique used in testing out certain approaches and how they perform in light of any tweaks one might use. It is an area that you must know and apply in building your brand. You can use it to try and figure out the best way to do things; anything.

In your journey to build a brand, you must engage specialists where need be. Examples of such are graphic designers, marketing experts, web developers, and so on. These are people who usually know how to make your brand stand out. Successful branding thrives on consistency. Once you have properly put your brand together there should be consistency in all of your business or startup.