By now, you know you need a brand.

Every business wants that immediate recognition, lasting impression and emotional connection with their audience. Branding your business is relatively simple. Choosing the colors, font, style and voice is part of what makes up your brand. These elements then influence how your logo, website, emails and social media will look.

But how do you decide

which colors, fonts, styles and what voice you want your brand to have?

Designing your brand is a combination of who you are and what you value — and who your customers are and what your purpose is to them. Your brand is all about your message. Every color choice, every font option, every stylish accent and every turn of phrase needs to send the same message to your customer.

Who are you?

When you are deciding on your brand elements, you need to start with who you are. If you’re someone who loves to throw a party and has never met a stranger, your brand choices should be full of bright, fun colors and funky style. But if you’re a more introspective, quiet person, preferring good books to loud concerts, you may want more neutral colors and timeless accents.

Start with your personality. How do you describe yourself? How do your friends introduce you? Pay attention to the words you use. Make a list of all those adjectives – clever, considerate, funny, quiet, laid-back, passionate, etc. 

Add in where you get your energy. Do you come home from a get-together wired — or tired? People who crave interaction with others are generally extroverts, and people who need solitude are more likely introverts.

Don’t forget about your hobbies or interests. Are you a hiker? Comic book collector? Know everything there is to know about herbs and cooking? Even if it seems completely unrelated to your business, your hobbies and interests can help shape your brand.

Once you have a picture of your personality and interests, match it up with colors, fonts and styles. What’s your favorite color? Chances are, if you are an energetic, active people-person, you love bright colors and flashy, quirky fonts. And if you are a thoughtful, careful perfectionist, you may prefer pastels and classic styles. Branding your business should showcase who you are as a business owner.

Deep thinkers with intellectual interests may be drawn to darker, richer colors and bold accents.  Passionate activists usually want the colors of nature and fonts that stand out.  Give yourself lots and lots of choices, and start watching for patterns. Don’t worry about narrowing things down yet.

Now you’ll want to consider your values.

Your character, your passion and your focus should be reflected in your brand.  Determining what characteristic you value most can be challenging, but try it from the negative side first. What gets you the most upset? What behaviour in others hurts you the most?

For me, personally, it’s dishonesty. Integrity is one of my core values. I cannot respect anyone whose words do not match up with their actions. I take promises very seriously. Because of these values, I have a more serious tone to my brand.  Maybe your deal-breaker is theft – whether that be actual physical stealing or simply plagiarism.  You prize individuality and creativity. Then you’ll want to make sure your brand’s voice highlights your own creative flair.

What are you most passionate about? What is heartbreaking for you? You can be cliche here, because passion and value is completely subjective.  What charitable endeavors do you support, financially or volunteering? Whether your cause is environmental (greens and browns), health (blues, whites and red), or civic rights (black, red, purple, etc), use that fire to help figure out your brand.

Your personal values and temperament is just part of your brand, however. Your brand also needs to take into account who you are talking to. After all, branding is a marketing device, a tool to connect with and impress your audience.

Who is your target audience?

If you haven’t figured out your ideal client yet, this might be a good time to pause and determine that. Otherwise, pull out your marketing research.

Men and women respond to colors differently. Older and younger people prefer different styles and fonts. The demographics of your marketing may help you figure out whether or not you should be using chocolate brown or sandy brown in your branding.

You’ll also want to figure out where your audience is. Americans tend to interpret red shades with more negative emotions than Europeans, for example. If you are looking for a global reach, you may want to be aware of cultural differences. Some cultures may see some colors as highly offensive. (For a great resource on color and meaning, go here.)

Your audience’s lifestyle will also influence your brand choices. You’ll want to create a brand that resonates with them. If you want to connect with athletes, you’ll want an athletic looking brand.  Customize your mom-friendly look to attract moms. And make sure your brand looks delicious if your target audience are foodies.

What is your message?

Finally, when deciding on your brand elements, make sure you pay attention to the message you want to share. What is the purpose for your business?  The most common reasons for creating a business are to make money, to have an impact on lives, to serve and to educate others. Consider which is your primary purpose when narrowing down your choices.

If your primary purpose is to increase income — both for yourself and your clients — then you’ll want brand colors and styles that speak of wealth. Colors that are bolder and warmer will suit you better than pastels. If your business focus is to have an impact on your customers’ well-being in some way, you will use fonts and words that suggest health. Smooth corners and clean fonts will help your message more than elaborate designs.

If you are looking to serve your audience and meet their need, whatever that may be, you will look for neutral colors that won’t distract from phrases and words that describe your desire to help. And if you want to educate the world and share what you’ve learned, high contrast colors, simple designs and easy-to-understand vocabulary will be your best brand choices.

Choose carefully!

When designing your brand, put some careful thought into the choices you make. Branding is an essential part of your marketing strategy, so it deserves to be taken seriously. Make sure you personalize it! Even though it’s about your business, you want your brand to reflect you as well. Include your values and interests in your options. And you’ll also want to consider your audience when deciding on your branding. Who they are and where they live should influence your selections.

Branding is all about the message you want to spread. You want your customers to know, like, trust and remember you. Your brand will help them do that.

Branding 101: Personality, marketing & making choices
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