The Art of Brand Creation: Between Simplicity and Complexity

Creating a lasting and successful brand might seem like both an effortless task and an insurmountable challenge. As we venture into the world of branding, we are bombarded with conflicting advice, which can leave us feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed.

The Journey of Brand Creation

The process of creating a brand begins with a simple idea - to show up consistently for the people you seek to serve. At its core, it's about understanding your target audience's needs and desires and delivering value that resonates with them. However, the challenge lies not only in being consistent but also in finding and connecting with the right audience.

Searching for tips and advice online, we find ourselves inundated with suggestions like "show up where your audience is," "speak your audience's language," and "focus on benefits, not features." While these ideas are valuable, they don't always provide practical guidance on the journey to success, leaving us craving more actionable strategies.

The Unfortunate Reality

The truth is, there's no single right way to achieve success in brand creation. While examining case studies and emulating successful brands may offer some direction, it's crucial to recognize that most success stories occur within unique contexts or by offering a truly revolutionary product.

Successful brands have navigated the balance between emulating proven strategies and tailoring their approach to specific circumstances. Rather than seeking a one-size-fits-all solution, entrepreneurs should view brand creation as an evolving art form, requiring continuous adaptation, learning, and innovation.

Crafting Your Own Path

To build a compelling and engaging brand, begin by following these steps:

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Dive deep into your audience's psyche, using market research, analytics, and buyer personas to identify their needs, aspirations, and pain points.

For example, if you're a nutrition business targeting health-conscious millennials, delve into their lifestyle and dietary preferences, identify their primary sources of health information, and note their most pressing health needs.

Alternatively, for businesses just starting out, this might seem a mammoth task. Instead, start out small: survey a select group of potential customers directly, follow relevant online forums, or partner with market research students looking for practical experience.

2. Embrace Consistency

Develop a consistent brand image, voice, and visual identity that your audience can easily recognize and resonate with. This consistency will help build familiarity and trust over time.

Take Spotify, for example. They maintain a consistent brand image across all their platforms, using a distinct black, white, and green color scheme, and a recognizable logo. Their brand voice is friendly, conversational, yet professional.

For emerging brands, consistency might be as simple as having the same logo and color scheme across your social media channels, using a consistent tone in all posts and interacting with follower comments regularly.

3. Differentiate Your Brand

Analyze your industry and competitors to understand how your brand can stand out, providing a unique value proposition that distinguishes you in a crowded market.

For instance, the eyewear company Warby Parker differentiated itself by providing stylish, affordable glasses with a home try-on option.

If you're a small business, differentiation could simply mean focusing on a niche that your competitors aren't focusing on or building a unique brand personality that sets you apart.

4. Evolve and Adapt

Remain open to feedback and change; continuously monitor your results and modify your approach to stay relevant in a rapidly shifting landscape.

Just look at Netflix – from a DVD rental business, they adapted to become global leaders in streaming services.

As a fledgling brand, responsiveness to change could be seeking customer feedback regularly and being willing to pivot your products, services, or approaches depending on their responses.

5. Tell Your Brand Story

Forge an authentic, relatable narrative that guides your audience on an emotional journey, allowing them to feel connected with your brand on a deeper level.

Brands like TOMS do this well, with their “one for one” mission intertwining with their brand narrative.

As a new brand, tell your story through your brand values, mission statement, and the passion that led you to start your business. Connect these elements to the need you’re fulfilling for your audience.

In Conclusion

Embrace the multifaceted nature of brand creation; accept that its simplicity and complexity intertwine, making it both easy and challenging. Rather than becoming immobilized by overwhelming advice or attempting to follow an identical path to someone else's success, forge your own way, embracing the iterative process of continuous adaptation and improvement. Above all, never lose sight of your brand's ultimate goal: to consistently deliver value and connection to your target audience.

Tanner Garniss-Marsh, RGD, is a brand strategist and designer working with business owners to bring their envisioned brand to life with strategic and practical solutions.

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