12 Practical Steps to Design Your Brand From Start to Finish

You've probably heard time and time again that thoughtfully crafting your brand is important. But, you may be lost on where to start or what move to make next. 

The key to creating a one-of-a-kind brand is covering all of your bases, from the names you give your products and services to the colors you choose to use on your website. You can’t just create a logo and call it a day. If you want your brand to be professional, memorable, and effective, you have to be intentional. But that is one tall order, huh?

In an effort to take some of the guess work out of this whole ordeal, I created a 12-step process that will help you thoughtfully craft your brand and start attracting your ideal clients.

 

1 | Write a Mission Statement

A mission statement is a few sentences that express the purpose, identify the goal, describe products and/or services and highlights the target audience of a business.

In other terms, it’s a sentence or two that describes the why, the how and the who. If you get stuck a common framework is:

My business does __________ to help ___________ do ____________.

For example: Jordan Prindle | Designs provides graphic design, creative strategy and educational content to creative women in business to help them brand and grow their business.

 

2 | Create a Target Audience Biography

Your target audience is the group of people that you market your business and offerings towards. When considering your target audience, it’s important to take into effect the demographics and psychographics. Demographics are the measurable traits. Psychographics are the immeasurable traits.

To create a one-of-a-kind brand you want to go beyond a few bullet point concepts of your target audience and get a more intimate understanding of them by creating a target audience biography. Having an intimate understanding of your target audience ensures you are creating content that attracts them and serves their needs.

Related: How to Write a Target Audience Biography

 

3 | Select Your Brand Adjectives

One of the most influential parts of the branding questionnaires I give to my design clients is the 10 adjectives they choose to define their brand.

Adjectives are powerful in creating visuals, defining tone and honing in on a brands aesthetic.

The 10 adjectives you choose should reflect your mission statement and the target audience you’ve depicted above. I’m pretty smart for having you do those first, huh?

Related: 50+ Adjectives to Establish Your Brand's Visual Identity

 
 

4 | Develop Your Tone and Terminology

The tone and terminology of your brand may be the most overlooked and undervalued concept within branding.

Terminology: Why is terminology so important? Because, when it is done well you can create consistency, improve your marketing and foster a community. But, if you do it really well, people forget that the terms they’re using are branded.

Let’s look at Kleenex. Kleenex is a brand, the product is facial tissue. But, almost no one uses the term facial tissue anymore because Kleenex has dominated the market with their terminology.

Tone: Now, let’s talk about tone. The tone of your brand should be consistent with the 10 adjectives you selected earlier. Whether that is silly, playful and inviting or reserved, corporate and educational you need to create consistency across your brand and marketing efforts.

12 Practical Steps to Design Your Brand From Start to Finish | Kleenex Billboard

 

5 | Curate Your Visual Inspiration

Inspiration boards are the foundation of your brands visual identity.

The initial steps in creating a brand or business includes a lot of planning and drafting of ideas, aka why this is step five instead of step one. Although every step before this is important, it won't help you select brand colors, fonts or aid in creating brand collateral. That's where visual inspiration comes in.

I've written a blog post walking you step by step through creating an inspiration board that I will link below. But, to create one in the simplest of terms I suggest utilizing a secret Pinterest board that can hold all of your visual inspiration. One tip I highly recommend is leaving all brand-related images out of this board and focus on high-quality images you find inspiring and that align with the 10 adjectives you selected. 

Related: How to Create An Inspiration Board

 

6 | Design and Refine logo

The logo may be the hardest hurtle for any small business owner and blogger. This is due to the fact that a logo is the most recognizable identifier that a brand has. It puts a lot of pressure on creating the perfect logo for your business. 

Unfortunately, there is not formula to always creating the perfect logo. It comes with a certain degree of instinct and having a good eye for quality design. But, don't stress there are a few guidelines every logo should measure itself against. 

  • Simplicity: A simpler logo increases recognition and makes it easier to implement across all platforms.

  • Relevance: A logo must always be appropriate and representative of the brand behind it.

  • Timeless: Logo's should stand the test of time. If a logo is too trendy, it can quickly become dated and require updating.

  • Unique: All logo's should have one memorable aspect. Consider using a unique element, color or font choice.

  • Scalability: A logo needs to scale without losing quality. If details get fuzzy or text is illegible, you’ll want to find a new solution.

Pull out your logo and measure it against each bullet. If it doesn't measure up, consider making improvements.

alabaster+moore.png

Let's look at Alabaster and Moore's logo. It's simple serif font is legible (read: scalability) and timeless. The playful ampersand is the perfect unique element to add visual interest and be memorable (read: simplicity). Lastly, the logo is relevant to it's brand and target audience. 

 

7 | Design Logo variations

A brand isn’t complete with just one logo. Alternate logos are necessary to diversify the brand and promote the business through different mediums.

Typically, you want a logo that can be shared in a horizontal format and circular format. The horizontal logos are commonly used for website’s, product packaging and promotional graphics. The circular formats are often used for favicons, social media avatars and stickers. This, of course, is not a hard and fast rule. Feel free to get creative with the functions and uses of each logo. 

Check out Styleheir's logo variations below to get inspired! Remember to reference the five bullet points above to ensure the logo is memorable, usable and one-of-a-kind. 

Styleheir logo variations

Instagram Video-04.png
 
Instagram Video-05.png

 

8 | Create Primary + Secondary Color Palette's

Color is a powerful communication tool and is often used to encourage action, tell a story or tap into emotions. To create a powerful color palette you'll want to measure it against your ideal clients and your 10 brand adjectives. 

Although selecting a few pretty colors may seem sufficient, it won't quite cut it for a one-of-a-kind brand. You'll need to have a basic understanding of color theory to select the appropriate colors, learn how to properly pair colors and lastly and most importantly know how to properly implement your color palette. Follow the links below to get started!

Related: Create a Distinct Color Palette

Related: Effectively Implement Your Brand's Color Palette

 

 

9 | Select brand fonts

Fonts are similar to colors as they are more communicative than people often give them credit for. 

I recommend all creative entrepreneurs learn about the four basic font categories: serif, sans serif, script and display. Use the link below to learn more about font theory.

Beyond having a basic understanding of the fonts, you'll need to know how to properly pair these fonts. For this, I have one simple tricks for you: contrast. Contrast creates visual hierarchy and improves legibility. You can create contrast through contrasting fonts or weights.

Related: Select Fonts for Your Brand

 

10 | Define Your graphic style

Before we can move on to creating brand collateral, you'll need to define your graphic style. Pull out those adjectives and inspiration board again and evaluate what style makes the most sense for your brand.

Will your graphic elements be hand-drawn, minimal or geometric? 

Consider what guidelines you'll put in place around your graphic elements. For example, will icons include text or not? Will you use shadows, gradients or flat design? JP | Designs icons are minimal, flat and include text.

I suggest looking through your inspiration board for guidance. 

Related: How to Embrace Your Design Style

categories long.png

 

11 | Create brand collateral

Brand collateral is any element that is created to promote your brand and business. 

This includes everything from business cards to social media graphics to icons. An effective and simple way to ensure you are properly branded across your entire business is to run through your client experience from start to finish. This may look something like this: Instagram > Blog Post > Portfolio > Design Services > Client > Client Workflow > Off-boarding.

There are a lot of steps and instances that your clients may come into contact with your brand and you want to be sure you're properly represented at each of those touchpoints. 

Related: 15 Brand Touchpoints Your Business Should Have Branded

 

 

12 | Craft your style guide

Finally, you will want to create your style guide. A style guide is a document where you can hold all of the necessary information and guidelines for how to properly and effectively use your brand. 

Typically, a style guide contains information regarding: primary logo, logo variations, color palettes, font pairings, patterns, icons, design elements, brand collateral and application. 

Related: Infographic: How to Create a Style Guide


12 steps later and you have officially created a one-of-a-kind brand! I'd love to hear about any issues or questions you ran into along the way! Share them in the comments