If you’re in the process of starting up a new business or brand, then you’ve surely got a lot on your plate. To make the process a little easier, we strongly recommend that you draw up a simple branding checklist. With a checklist, you can see at a glance what you have to do in order to build a brand image that’s rock solid and bolster your brand identity over time.
One way to think of it is as having a branding to-do list. Just like a to-do list can help you consolidate your idea of what needs to be done in your personal life from groceries to admin tasks, a branding list can help you solidify the next steps on the road to creating a solid brand. The last thing you want when you set out to create a brand is to omit an important step that could come back to haunt you at a later date.
What does brand consistency mean and why is it so important?
Brand consistency is key if you ever hope to create a brand that lasts more than a few seconds in the memory of your prospective customers. Brand consistency is the reason why Nike is never more than a thought or two away from any discussion about footwear, and why Ikea might pop up in a conversation about home furniture.
In a nutshell, brand consistency is presenting a brand image to the customer that stays consistent across various mediums. A lack of brand consistency weakens the brand identity, in a way which leaves people struggling to utter the name of the brand – the last thing you want for a memorable brand.
For example, if you are selling toothpaste and you put out a TV advert showing a fun animated toothbrush character but omit this character from your packaging or social media campaigns then this demonstrates a poor awareness of the impact of brand consistency. This inconsistency is jarring to customers, and can even breed a sense of distrust as it seems like the brand wants you to think several different things about what it is and what it represents.
The importance of developing and maintaining brand consistency is hard to overstate. It can literally make or break a business.
To avoid the issue of inconsistency, you should make sure that your brand message is consistent throughout your marketing efforts regardless of the platform or medium. First you should of course come up with a compelling brand identity and a message that solves a pressing pain point for your target audience or ideal buyer persona, and then you can focus on delivering it as convincingly as possible.
We’re not saying that each of your marketing efforts has to be more or less the same, but that they should have the same message. In fact, it’s often best to diversify your approach to accommodate for the medium, since TV requires a different strategy than social media.
We know that this sounds tricky to pull off, and it is, which is why we suggest that you go ahead and create a branding checklist to make it easier for you to create a killer brand with consistent messaging that hits home for your target audience.
What is a branding checklist and why should every business create one?
A branding checklist is an easy way of simplifying everything you need to do to establish your brand. With this checklist, you will itemize everything that needs to be done, so that you can systematically work through each task until you’ve built your brand.
While we compared it with a personal to-do list earlier, it isn’t as simple as grabbing a pen and paper and writing down 10+ activities you need to do for your business. It can be, of course, but a branding checklist is something that requires a lot of thought if it is to guide you in the right direction.
After all, this is a brand you’re trying to create. A brand wih good reputation, what hopefully, will last for many years and be the reason why people decide to buy from your business instead of your competitors.
We believe every business could benefit from having its own branding checklist, because it takes the uncertainty out of the process to some degree. One of the hardest things about establishing a brand is knowing where to start. If you don’t know where to start, the chances are, you won’t.
As such, by writing down the concrete steps you need to take in order to build your brand you can feel confident about what it is you need to do to make progress even after you’ve finished the first few tasks. It’s essentially a roadmap that you can refer back to whenever you’re stuck or unclear on what it is you should be doing.
The branding checklist is also useful because it can help your colleagues or employees keep the momentum up. There’s nothing worse than completing a task and then having nothing to do. It’s a waste of both the employer’s and employee’s time, so by having a branding checklist with clearly defined tasks you can ensure that the workforce makes consistent progress towards building the brand even without oversight.
Branding checklist for businesses
Now it’s time to create your own branding checklist, so open up a new spreadsheet or whatever program you want to use to create the checklist, and let’s get started!
Are you ready?
Ok, here are the top 10 things that should make it onto your branding checklist:
1. Give your brand a mission
One of the most important aspects of any brand is the mission you assign it.
You should take time to put words to what it is you want to accomplish with the brand you’re trying to create.
If you’re struggling, a simple way to find your brand’s mission is to ask yourself: what made me/us want to set up this business?
If you can answer the ‘why’ behind the brand, then you can write a compelling mission that customers can get onboard with.
2. Define your brand’s most important values
Having brand values isn’t only useful for inspiring employees and keeping them on the right track, but also for convincing customers that choosing your brand is the best decision they could make.
Consider this: would you rather invest in a generic company that designs quality outdoor clothing, or a company such as Patagonia which has a strong brand value to promote sustainability with eco-friendly and high-quality outdoor clothing?
We’re willing to bet that most customers would choose the latter. Either because the principle is something they strongly agree with, or because they like that Patagonia has a strong brand image which is sharpened by its clearly outlined values.
3. Name your brand wisely
You might think that this should be the very first thing on your branding checklist, but actually, it isn’t a bad idea to hold off on naming your brand.
Because just like sometimes authors write the title of an article or book after writing the body, a brand name is easier to create after you know more about what it looks like.
When you reach this step, you might find that you’ve already scrawled out dozens of potential brand names, which is great. But if you’ve already started the branding checklist process, you might find that the direction your brand is heading has changed since those initial name ideas so you might have to go back to the drawing board.
As for what it could be, you could go with an abstract name like Nike that doesn’t really describe what the business does, a more literal name that does such as Deliveroo, or something entirely unique.
4. Give your brand a message and find a way to communicate it
Your brand message is more or less the same as your brand story.
Why should a customer buy into your brand’s identity?
What’s the story behind the creation of the brand?
In what way does the brand serve the customer?
By answering questions such as these, you can refine your brand message, which you should then get out there through various platforms such as your website, social media, and ad campaigns.
5. Develop your brand’s buyer persona(s)
The concept of the buyer persona is common in business, as it helps you to humanize and address your target audience by singling out a single customer.
The ideal buyer persona for your brand should be the person you had in mind when you created the brand. You should spend some time describing this buyer persona in great detail, from their spending habits to likes and interests (using real data if possible) so that you can use it to inform your marketing.
One of the best ways to ensure your brand marketing hits the right audience is to appeal to this buyer persona as if you were pitching to that one person alone.
6. Design your brand’s visual presence
The text and copy associated with your brand and its content are hugely important for growth, but image is equally as essential.
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Nike’?
We’re willing to bet a white tick in a black box pops up in your mind almost instantly. That’s the power of having a strong visual presence for your brand.
You can alter the way you present your brand to the world through everything from your logo, to the typefaces and icons you use in communication. A fun and lighthearted brand might lean more into vibrant colors and playful visuals, while a more serious brand might stick to more neutral colors and less daring visuals. Though you’re of course free to experiment with different visual styles to make your brand more memorable.
7. Make a good website for your brand
If customers can’t find a website for your brand, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to create a sales funnel that converts interest into sales.
A website is essential for any modern business, whether it deals with software solutions or lawn mowers.
This is the home of your brand in many ways, so you want to make sure it’s where your brand consistency is strongest. Include your most powerful marketing tools on the website, and make sure you optimize the SEO in order to generate more traffic and boost your online visibility to reach a wider audience.
8. Research your brand’s competitors
If you want to be a market leader or simply do well in your industry, then you need to know how your competitors are performing and what they’re doing.
While we’re not suggesting you look to your competition for ideas on creating your own brand identity, this kind of market research can inform how you differentiate your brand from theirs.
Where do you fit into the market?
Is there an unexploited niche or form of marketing that could catapult your brand to success?
Is the market overcrowded and in need of something a little different?
9. Make sure that your brand operates between boundaries
Brand boundaries are an often overlooked, yet important, part of establishing a solid brand.
What are brand boundaries?
Put simply, they are the self-imposed boundaries that stop anyone in the company from overstepping the mark with regards to responding to negative feedback or violating an industry regulation.
You need to make these boundaries clear to your employees, otherwise all the hard work you’ve put into creating a brilliant brand could be undone with a mistake or two.
10. Share your brand’s journey
Your brand’s journey is of great interest to the customer.
They want to know how you arrived at the point you are today. For example, if you’re a mattress company, what is it that drove you to start a business in the industry?
If you’re a tea company, did you first come up with the idea on a trip to an exotic country or did the idea come to you while you were enjoying an afternoon cup of tea at home?
The brand journey makes your brand relatable to the customer, which can give it a human face.