Are you wanting to brand or rebrand your business? That's awesome! But before you start anything, even a Pinterest inspiration board, you need to figure out your foundation.
Effective branding (and graphics in general) are focused on communication. So you can't create an impactful brand without first knowing what it is you want it to communicate.
Today I'm outlining the basic brand foundation questions I ask my branding clients before I start designing anything.
(Psst. Want a free workbook to record your answers? Check out the bottom of the post.)
What Am I Offering?
This should be the simplest part of your foundation. What do you want people to pay you for? It's important to be able sum this up in one to two sentences so that it can be communicated quickly.
If You Offer Products
You may offer a wide variety of products, but you should still be able to sum them up with a simple sentence or two. Try to balance uniqueness and broadness in your description. Instead of just saying "Women's Clothing" include what stands out about your clothing, like "Ethically Sourced Women's Clothing in Classic Cuts and Styles." Conversely, don't get so creative that people don't understand what you're saying. For example, "Office Accouterments for the Spiritually-Minded Maven," communicates much less clearly than, "Faith-Based Stationary for the Modern Woman."
If You Offer Services
If you offer services, make sure they're related and easy to sum up. I know there's a temptation to offer paid services for every skill you have, but if you want to your audience to know what to expect from you, you need to narrow it down and be specific. I could advertise myself simply as a graphic designer, because I enjoy and have skill in several branches of design, but that could lead to potential clients not being sure if I have the right skills or right style for them. By calling myself a "Brand Designer for Women Entrepreneurs" I'm able to more effectively communicate my services.
Who Am I Offering It To?
This is known as your "ideal client." Putting together an ideal client profile can be very stressful, and you can get down into some very specific details, but a general profile can be very helpful, and a lot less stressful.
I would suggest including these traits into your ideal client profile:
It's okay if you can't define your ideal client as a specific gender, but do you know if your product/service appeals more to one gender than another? Few businesses are completely unisex.
Age & Life Stage
This answer strongly relates to pain points (below). Are they new moms? College students? Knowing your audience's age and lifestage helps you narrow down their current priorities, and can help you market more effectively. (You wouldn't be advertising to teenagers in your local newspaper.)
Career is a good indicator of what kind of presentation/visual style will appeal to your audience. A 35-year-old corporate lawyer generally doesn't buy their clothes from the same place as a 35-year-old carpenter.
Personality is a fairly broad part of your ideal client profile, but it's a section where you can elaborate on qualities of your ideal client that don't fall into the other categories. Maybe your ideal client values a sense of humor. Maybe your ideal client loves the outdoors.
Paint points are the areas of your ideal client's life they wish were better. For example, a common pain point of new moms is not getting enough sleep.
Why Does It Matter to Them?
Now you know what you're offering, and who you're offering it to; now you need to figure out why they should buy it. What benefits does it offer? Why would their life be better with it? (Psst. Keep these answers - they're powerful on your sales page!)
Some Common Answers
Make more money
Make something easier
Fulfill a lifestyle goal
Learn a new skill
How/Where Do I Offer It?
Also: how does my audience find out about and get my offering?
Half of this equation is marketing: where are you going to promote your products or services? Online or offline? Paid ads or free marketing? Are you going to have a content strategy? Will you blog?
Delivery of Product/Service
Once your client buys in, how do they receive their purchase? For products, this probably is just shipping it, but service providers can vary in what this looks like. Portrait photographers meet their clients at an agreed-upon place, while coaches often have their sessions through video calls. I, for example, work with my branding clients through the project management site, Asana.
What Values Come First In My Business?
Another way to ask this question is to ask - if you had your clients describe your business in three words, what would you want them to say?
I love this question the most because it forces my clients to really narrow down what they want their brand to communicate. These three values are what you want to encapsulate in your business's first impression.
Sample Brand Values