Whether you are building a business or an audience, don’t wait to brand
Whether you are building a business or an audience, the importance of strategic branding is paramount. And it is not something that can wait until later, unless you want to throw away opportunities for success.
I get it, it’s overwhelming. There are so many things to consider and, unless you can hire multiple people, those things are all on you. Branding, content curation, technical aspects, social media strategy — it is a lot.
But how do you eat an elephant? Well, I wouldn’t — but if I was, I would have to eat it one bite at a time. When it comes to building brand presence in today’s world, the elephant approach is the only way. And I suggest you make branding one of your fist bites.
I promise, branding basics are not as hard to digest as they appear.
Many online writers and creators do thousands of hours of work before they even consider branding. It’s heart-wrenching to watch, when you understand the wasted opportunities that lie in every single post they make, image they design, video they create or article they write.
Maybe people think that successful brands didn’t brand until they were successful. When, in truth, branding likely played a big part in creating their success.
Perhaps people think that they have to be a professional, or hire one, before they can build their brand. But anyone can make a beginning, on their own. All you have to do is understand the basics and have access to resources. And we’ll get to that.
Usually, I think people wait to brand because they think it doesn’t matter much — or at least not yet. I am here to tell you that it does. A lot. And it doesn’t have to be boring or intimidating.
You don’t have to be or hire a professional before you can start branding. Hiring someone with experience, even if just for consultation, is invaluable. But it’s not a requirement, especially to begin. And if you aren’t in a position to hire someone, you don’t have to wait to get started.
Why you shouldn’t wait to brand
You may think branding doesn’t matter in the beginning.
Does it really matter when you only have 500 followers? Or when you only have one social media platform? Or if your site is not up yet?
Yes. It matters from day one.
Think of your brand as your personality or the personality of your organization. It is your identity. Just like people in your life have a perception of you, you want people out in the world to have a perception of your brand. You want your brand to have an identity, a personality. If it does not, there is nothing tying your work together — tying it to you or whatever you do.
Building a brand identity is much more difficult than building your human identity. Humans just have a way of being who they are and noticing who each other are. It happens naturally. But when you are building an identity for your brand, you are building an identity with content. You are creating a personality through words, images, colors, videos and style.
Without conscious branding, the work you put into the world is just out there blowing in the wind. It has no foundation to be connected to. And without a foundation, an identity, and a unique personality, your piece of work is just one in a stack of millions.
When you trust people in your life, you trust them because they have been consistent at whatever you trust them for. Brand trust is the same. And it takes time, patience and consistency. This is why creating your work without building your brand is such a waste of precious time and digital real-estate.
Do it yourself
Your first branding kit does not have to be perfect. You aren’t marrying it. So let go of waiting for things to be perfect to start, or you maybe never will.
The truth is, no matter how good or bad at it you are now, the you that exists five years in the future will cringe at your work. You will grow and improve over time. And you will look back at some of your own work and laugh at it. It’s just a law of growth.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is often simple. Successful people start where they are and unsuccessful people wait to start until they have arrived — but they never arrive because they didn’t start.
In short, who cares if you have no clue about branding? Who cares if you’re an amateur at design? Who cares if your work isn’t top of the line on your first day? And the answer is, no one but you.
If you cannot afford to hire a branding consultant or a designer, don’t wait to build your brand. Start where you are and do it yourself.
You don’t need much to get started. And once you get started, as long as you are thoughtful and engaged, whatever you start with will grow organically.
Before you begin, and if you haven’t already, refine your entire mission and purpose to one or two sentences. This sounds simple, but for many, it is not.
If you cannot do this on the spot, start with a paragraph. Refine it, and refine it some more until you are completely satisfied. When you are satisfied, this sentence should embody everything your brand stands for. And in doing so, it has a vibe — a feeling or a combination of feelings. That is where your brand begins.
Everything about your branding kit is simply a representation of those vibes.
If you are an overachiever, you can research color psychology and brief yourself on the power of typography.
- Choose a color palette. The colors you choose will vary widely based on your specific brand. But you want to choose a palette that can offer you different moods and opportunities. I suggest finding an image with colors that fit your brand and plugging it into Canva’s palette generator. Then, you can adjust from there. Here is an example of an image I plugged in and the palette it produced. There are also tons of combinations readily available to choose from, but it is important to build a unique brand identity — one that sets you apart. And if you choose from the pre-created pile, you will likely choose one that others have also chosen.
- Choose a few fonts. Be mindful of choosing fonts that you love, but others may not. Avoid fonts that are difficult to read, invasive, or tacky. It is beneficial to have at least one san serif, as the cleaner fonts will serve you better when used along with certain images, because they are easier to read.
- Create a logo. You can also make a logo in *Canva, provided you have Canva Pro. If not, they offer a free trial. Remember, you can always improve your logo later. You are not getting married. But in creating it, keep in mind how you will be using it. Create a logo that is versatile.
Once you have chosen and created these three things, you have the basics. And that’s all you need to begin. You can use your self-made branding kit to begin branding today. You will thank yourself later.
Consistency is key and its value cannot be overstated. Yes, your brand will evolve. But you won’t change it like you change your underwear. If you do, people will never know who you are.
Remember, everything about your brand grows from the foundation you built when you simply defined its purpose. So everything you do and create should be in alignment with that purpose.
The importance of consistency in brand purpose is beyond parallel.
The clearer you are on the purpose of your brand, the more successful you will be in building it.
Written by Holly Kellums
Featured image by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
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