You’ve decided it is time to invest in branding your business. You’re thinking about getting a logo designed, a website created, and maybe even a promotional video. Those are all great places to start. But, have you done your homework?
No, I’m not talking about researching the potential agency you’ll hire (That was a part of the assigned work, it’s just not due yet.) I’m talking about the homework on yourself and your business.
Branding and marketing agencies can give you an insurmountable amount of information. Their assistance can feel priceless in terms of how it helps propel your business. They can help you with strategy and implementation. They usually know all of the tips, tricks, and hacks to get you on the right track. But there are some limitations.
Agencies can’t tell you why you decided to go into business. They can’t tell you how you want people to perceive your brand. They can’t tell you why you decided to sell the products and services you do. Only you can answer these questions.
The answers to those questions may never make it to the “About Us” section of your website. But if you want an authentic brand, it’s important that those answers are at the foundation of what you build.
Don’t underestimate the power of an authentic brand story.
The agency you chose to work with may or may not have a process in place to help you do the deep discovering needed to establish your brand story. But don’t wait for them – be proactive. The more work you can do on your time is less work done on your dime when you bring in a third party.
I’ve compiled a list of questions you can ask yourself as a sort of brain warm-up to get you on the right track.
What’s the story behind the name of your business?
For some of us, the naming of our business came through a series of events, dreams, visions, and divine intervention. For others, it wasn’t all that spectacular. Either way, it’s good to think about because you never know how elements of that story could contribute to the character of your brand.
What products or services do you sell and what value do they bring to your customers?
If you have a business, you probably already know what you sell. But do you have it written down? Have you fully committed to your current list of products/services? Once you have that decided, take a step back. Look at your products/services from a broader perspective – what value does that bring to your customers?
Why this product/service? Why you? Why now?
These questions can help with determining what problem you’re solving for your target market and what differentiates you from your competition.
Who is buying your products or services?
What is your target market? The more specific this answer, the better. What are the ages of your customers? What kind of jobs do they have? The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor your messaging to them.
What is your ultimate vision for your business?
If none of your current obstacles were on the table – finances, employees, leads, etc. – what do you see for your business? This is another answer that could help determine parts of your brand like voice and character.
What existing brands do you admire and why?
These brands don’t have to be competitors. They should be real brands that you follow and/or support. What do you like most about them?
How do you want your customers to describe your business?
Let’s not use words like “professional” or “legitimate”. Try thinking about your business as a person. What kind of person would you want your customers to describe?
These questions are designed to build your arsenal of information so that once you start working with a branding agency who has questions about your brand, you’ll have a place to pull those answers from. Think of it like a cheat sheet!
To make things even easier, I’ve put these questions in a worksheet for you so you can actually write all of the answers down and have them in one place for reference.