Brand Image Matters: 8 Essential Steps to Define Your Brand

Carefully define your brand and everything it represents. Your brand identity is not only the soul of your company, but also the reason your customers connect with, choose, and stay with your business.

Your brand represents a promise you make to every single one of your existing and potential customers. The consistency of this promise and the overall quality of your delivery on this promise encourage your customers to be loyal to your brand. Strong customer loyalty to your brand is essential for your brand’s long-term success.

In order for your promise to be effective, it must be distinct and clearly distinguishable from the many other promises your potential clients will encounter.

  • What kind of promise does your brand make?
  • To whom does your brand make this promise?
  • How is your brand’s promise different from your competitors’?
  • Why should anyone believe your promise?

Building a Recognizable Brand

Defining your brand may seem simple, but there’s more to a strong brand than you might think. The golden arches of McDonald’s and the Nike swoosh did not grow into global identities overnight. These and other successful brands are the product of careful research, precisely defined boundaries, distinct brand voices, and comprehensive marketing strategies.

Person holding smart phone with photo of embroidered Nike swooshThe result? Each customer and prospect knows exactly what these brands represent. You don’t walk into McDonald’s to order lasagne, right? Nor would you shop Nike for a pair of stilettos.

Both brands have carefully defined themselves so we know exactly what to expect from each. Importantly, both brands also deliver on those expectations. Customers are far more likely to be loyal to a brand that sends a clear message and has a distinct voice.

Step 1: Define Your Strengths

The first step to defining your brand is to carefully consider and document your business’ strengths. You can make use of S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to outline the major strengths and weaknesses of your business. To be clear, your brand should represent the strengths or core functions of your business. For your S.W.O.T. analysis to be useful, you’ll have to be honest and realistic in your self-evaluation.


SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

SWOT Analysis

Businesses conduct a SWOT Analysis to gain insight into what they do best (and should invest in) and where they have opportunities for improvement.
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Step 2: Identify Your Specialty or Niche

Some entrepreneurs, startups, and even established businesses fall into the trap of trying to be good at everything. They end up doing too many different things at once and fail to create a niche. 

McDonald's golden arches are recognized globally, regardless of how you feel about their products.

It’s equally ineffective to attempt a “universal” product or service with no specific target audience. 

The result of this kind of non-strategy would be a brand without clear definition and nothing concrete to encourage brand loyalty.

If you try to target everyone and do or be everything, you will spread your resources too thin. It’s simply not sustainable or realistic. The easiest way to get nothing done is to try and do everything at the same time. 

Step 3: Choose the Right Tools

Once you have a clearly defined message, the next step is to choose the right tools.The marketing tools you choose to make use of should emphasize the core focus of your business.

Step 4: Know What You Are Not

Your marketing strategy should also emphasize what your business is not so your clients see your focus is to serve them, rather than treat them as disposable. This is an easy way to highlight the difference between you and the competition. 

Step 5: Find Your 3 Simple Words

After assessing the strength of your business, identify three simple words that represent what your business does well. Think of it this way: which three words would you want your clients to use to describe your brand if your brand were a person?

If you haven’t already, you (and your leadership team) must also define the Mission and Vision Statements of your business as part of this process.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

― Clare Boothe Luce

Step 6: Communicate to Your Target Audience

Your next move should be figuring out how to communicate these attributes to your target audience in simple terms. A complicated commercial or website is a major turn-off to potential clients and will not be very effective at generating sales. Keep your message simple if your aim is to make your brand memorable and profitable.

Step 7: Establish a Distinct Visual Brand

What makes you unique? with a dart in the center of a dartboard

Your brand and brand identity require more than a fancy logo, but your logo is a powerful visual element. Your logo is part of your brand identity and should instantly bring to mind both what your business does and what your brand represents. Look to your core principles for visual inspiration and, if in doubt, focus on quality and service.

Step 8: Make an Impression

The identity of your brand should be tied to how your products or services add value. You want your clients to think of your product or service as the best quality, the easiest to use, the most affordable, or even the most durable. Selling on hype alone will not get you very far.

Your aim is to give your brand a relatable voice and a distinct identity. Ultimately, you want the voice of your brand to pop off the page or website into the mind of your target market.

You want your message to make such a deep impression on your target audience that purchasing your product or service seems like the only sensible choice.You should not have to clutter your website or commercials to get potential clients to remember what your brand represents. 

At the end of the day, a clear brand identity makes your business difficult to confuse with a competitor.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Businesses conduct a SWOT Analysis to gain insight into what they do best (and should invest in) and where they have opportunities for improvement.

Get your FREE SWOT Analysis Guide & Template

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