When it comes to leveling up your brand, there are plenty of ways to do it yourself. But it’s important to remember that a brand is more than just a logo. You’ll need to build a foundation, one that helps you understand why your brand exists and who it serves. Once that’s done, you can get into the tactical stuff. We’ll share a few tips to help you build that foundation, as well as a DIY brand checklist you can use to build out your brand — all by yourself!
Disclaimer: a professional brand strategist can help you with all of this, but we understand that may not be in your budget right now. It is something to consider if you want to invest in your business, however!
Figure out what you do and why you’re unique
The identity and personality of your brand have a cascading effect on the rest of your business. They guide the products or services you sell (and how you sell them). They’re the reason why your customers choose you over your competitors. They influence how you communicate with your audience. Unsure what you want to share about what makes you different? We’ve got a few prompts for you.
Define your company’s purpose
Why does your business exist? Who are you targeting? Why are you valuable? Ask yourself these questions so you can figure out your company’s mission and/or purpose.
Let’s use Styled Stock Society as an example. We empower women like you to market their brands with eye-catching, pin-worthy images. We handle the visuals so you can focus on actually running your business like the boss you are. That’s what we do! Everything we do serves that purpose, and everything we share does, too.
Keep it simple and specific
Remember to KISS: keep it simple, sunshine. Also, be specific. There’s no need to use annoying jargon or buzzwords to jazz up your mission statement. Something simple and specific packs way more of a punch.
For inspo, look at how apparel brand Aerie describes themselves and their products: “Every single piece is designed to make every girl feel good… We want everyone to feel confident inside and out. Let the real you shine.” They clearly talk about what they sell and to whom, and what makes them special.
TL;DR: Decide what makes your company tick, and then you’ll be inspired to think about other aspects of your brand.
Reach your target audience through your brand voice
After you’ve figured out your brand’s mission, it’s time to dive deep into your brand voice. Newsflash: you’ve used some version of your brand voice already when putting together your brand’s purpose! The words and tone you chose there will reflect your brand voice and you can use that to guide your other messaging.
Your brand voice is how you speak to and connect with your audience. Is your voice witty and fun? Authoritative and professional? Sweet and hopeful? Whatever it is, your brand voice needs to be genuine. When you’re genuine, you’ll create an authentic experience with your customers that they’ll appreciate. That’ll keep your customers coming back to you again and again (hello, brand loyalty!). If you try too hard or you speak in a voice that doesn’t make sense for your brand, your audience will know it. And that’ll drive them away really quickly.
Here are some very different brand voices for comparison and inspiration:
- Target is energetic, fun, and cheerful. Their commercials always feel like a party.
- Wendy’s is snarky, witty, and trendy. Have you seen their Twitter account?!
- Whole Foods is down-to-earth, caring, and health-focused. They want to make the world better through high-quality food and sustainable business practices.
- BarkBox is quirky, cute, and joyful. Just as a dog-focused subscription box should be.
Another no-no: trying to reach too many audiences at once. If your voice is scattered, you won’t reach anyone as effectively, and your efforts will be wasted. Focus on your target audience and speak to them. It might feel like you’re excluding others, but remember that you want to resonate with your target audience most.
TL;DR: Channel your personality through your brand voice and you’ll reach your desired target audience in a genuine way.
Create a cohesive experience with visuals
Visuals are a huge part of your branding strategy, as you probably already know. But the visuals should be the last part of the puzzle. This part of your brand goes hand-in-hand with brand voice: together they make up your brand’s personality. When all these details are on point, you create a solid brand experience for your audience. Yes, you can say a lot about what you do through color choices, fonts, logos, and photos, but make sure the foundation above is there before you hit this stage. We recommend starting with a mood board to help you pull all of your visual inspiration together to create one cohesive brand.
Then, it’s time to choose elements of your visual brand, like:
- Logo. This can be a stylized version of your business name, or a symbol you feel encompasses your brand and its purpose.
- Colors. Most brands have 3 main colors, and you can add accents. Just don’t stray from the main three. There are plenty of brand color schemes to inspire you on Pinterest.
- Fonts and typefaces. Find a font that is easy to read, encompasses how you want people to “feel” when they see it, and that is easy to put on your site, marketing materials, etc. (You’d be surprised how difficult it is to upload really unique fonts!)
Graphics. This is what will carry your brand without words, and you’ll use them more than any other elements of your brand. Make sure to pay attention to what you use, rather than settling for something “kinda works.”
Great news: There are plenty of tools to help you create brand graphics when you’re ready. We recommend getting started with Canva.
Use graphic design tools like Canva
Canva is a popular graphic design tool, thanks to its library of templates, fonts, texts, icons, and layouts. You can create your own brand assets with tools like Canva Free or Canva Pro, which will help keep your brand visuals consistent across all platforms. If you’re more of a minimalist, there’s also Adobe Spark or Stencil.
Find visuals with Styled Stock Society
Images do a lot more than look pretty on a webpage: they grab people’s attention, add interest to blocks of text, and help people remember what you’re saying. Illustrate a point in a blog post with a photo. Place eye-catching graphics on your website. Boost engagement on your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook pages. Add a little extra sparkle to your email newsletters or downloadable content. You can use images creatively in so many places!
TL;DR: Cohesive visuals connect with your audience. It’s true what they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words. Make sure you’re saying the right ones with thoughtful visuals. Ask yourself: Does this image have my brand voice? Does it match the brand colors I chose?
Use a brand board to stay accountable
You’ve figured out your mission, your voice, and what your brand looks like. Great! Now… it’s time to remember all of that and keep it consistent across your biz. Creating a brand board is a helpful way to keep your brand strategy on track.
A brand board will typically include:
- Your brand’s logos
- Colors, patterns, and textures
- Icons and graphic elements
- Fonts for headlines and body copy
- Mood board images
Anytime you create new content, or if you grow your team in the future, you can use your brand board as a reference to maintain brand consistency.
Because we know how important branding is to your business, we want to help you get started on DIYing your brand. Download Style Stock Society’s FREE mood board template here and get started creating your brand!
The key is being consistent, and to create a brand experience that people remember. You can do that with the tools at your fingertips. Good luck, and happy branding!