5 Steps to Designing a Strategic Brand

When you think about designing – or redesigning – your business’s identity, you think about finding a designer and hiring them to design a logo, right?

That’s where many small businesses go wrong. There’s a 5-step process to designing your small business’s brand image. And actually designing it is the very last step.

If you want to create a profitable, pretty and powerful brand, then you’ve got to begin at the beginning. If you begin with the first 4 steps here, then you’ll be able to design a brand that’s stronger, has a more solid base and that will be an investment that gets results instead of an expensive, creative guess!

Step 1: Assessment.
You have to figure out where you are with your brand now, and assess whether your brand is IN or OUT of control, of style, of date, of alignment with your vision and of touch with your clients.

Take a look at your materials and really evaluate whether they’re working for you – and be totally honest about how they’re not working. It stings, but it’s worth it to improve your brand!

Step 2: Foundation.
This is where you solidify the ground that you’re building your brand on, and create the powerful foundation for your brand.

This gives you clarity about your brand, PLUS… It lets you effectively communicate with everyone else who is involved in your business, like:

  • Your clients, so that you can make a stronger connection with them.
  • Your vendors:  you’ll save money and get better results from working with them by giving them this information in a clear way. And, you’ll never be in danger of having a designer or writer hijack your business again with their creative ideas – you’ll be in control.
  • Your partners and affiliates, will  really understand what you’re up to, so they’ll be able to be more effective when they promote you. You’ll get more and better leads from them.

Your brand foundation consists of all of the positioning details for your business. Things like: your business’s personality, your BrandStyle, what you do, what makes you different, and your ideal client – who they are, what they want, need and desire and how they feel after they work with you. This information is absolutely essential to building a brand that really has a solid footing.

Step 3: Future Vision
Next, you have to create the ultimate future vision for your business, so that you know what your brand is building towards.

Without this, you’re just making a brand so you can… do what?  If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know how to get there – or even if you’re making any progress at all?

Dream big and think about where you want your business to go, the lifestyle you want to live, the impact you want to make on the world and the legacy you want to leave.

Step 4: Strategic Planning

Here’s where you use your Brand Foundation and your future vision to make a strong and strategic brand plan that shows exactly, step-by-step, where your brand is going and how it will get there.

Plan out where you want your business, your life and your brand to be – in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and beyond.

This plan should include how you want to be showing up in the world, the brand pieces you need to get there, who you want to be working with and the reputation you want to build.

It should also come complete with numbers and dates (I know, this part doesn’t sound very design-y at all!) Unless you have the numbers and dates  – how will you know if you’re accomplishing your goals? Some of these numbers should detail how much money you want your brand to bring in… so that you’ll see how you’re on-track with your monetary profits.

Step 5: Finally, Design!

I know, this is the step you’ve been waiting for!

This is where a designer comes on board and works with you to design a brand identity that communicates your brand foundation, looks fabulous and connects with your ideal clients. This is where you get to input your feedback and work with that artist to create a look that reflects who you really are and that you’re really proud to market with!

That’s the whole process to designing a brand that’s powerful, profitable and pretty – and everything that happens before step 5 is the “secret sauce” that is missing from small business brands that don’t work. Just think how effective your brand could be if it had all of these components!

elf@elf-design.com' About Erin Ferree

Erin Ferree is a brand strategist and designer. She works with small businesses to create brands with substance and style that fit their businesses perfectly.
She's designed brands for hundreds of small business all over the world. Her brands help her clients attract their ideal clients, outshine their competition and make them unforgettable. She also works with small business owners to develop complete clarity about their brand positioning and to develop total brand clarity.
Her award-winning design work and her writing on design have been published in many books and periodicals.
Erin lives, cooks and plays tug-of-war with her dog Stanley in San Luis Obispo, California. Her website is http://www.brandstyledesign.com

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