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Blog / Beginner's handbook / How to Build a Brand in 2024: A Complete Guide

Beginner's handbook

How to Build a Brand in 2024: A Complete Guide

How to Build a Brand in 2024: A Complete Guide
Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

17 min read

Every year, around 3.2M startups are launched in the US alone. With so many new businesses entering the market, newcomers must find a way to stand out. This is where a brand-building strategy comes in handy.

Developing a strong brand identity sets you apart from your competitors, helps you build a loyal customer base, and leaves a lasting impression on people’s minds.

Thanks to innovative solutions like dropshipping and print-on-demand, starting an online business has become easier than ever. However, it’s still crucial for new companies to follow some foundational steps to create a memorable brand.

Discover how to build a brand from scratch with this easy-to-follow guide, including many examples of thriving brands in multiple industries.

What is a brand?

A brand is more than a logo or product—it’s consumers’ overall perception, emotions, and experiences associated with your business. It represents a company’s promise, values, personality, and story, as well as how you interact with customers and treat your employees.

a man in black shirt and baseball cap smilingSource: Chipotle

A strong brand sets your business apart from the competition and creates a positive impression in your target audience’s eyes.

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What does brand building consist of?

Before moving on to actionable steps like designing a website or creating marketing materials, there are several brand building blocks to consider. Include these in your overall brand guidelines document to align team members and business partners.

Research your brand’s target audience

Before anything else, you need to know who your brand is selling to. Who are the people interested in buying your product or service? Based on your findings, you’ll tailor your messaging and offerings to meet their needs. This step helps you create your unique brand voice, personality, logo, story, etc.

Position your product and business

Positioning a business involves distinguishing your products or services from similar offerings in the marketplace. First, conduct competitor research. Find out who your competitors are and how they attract their customers.

Answer the question, ‘‘why would customers choose your brand over others?

Define your company’s personality

Every successful brand has a unique voice and personality that attracts its niche audience.

Your brand personality should align with your customers’ values and beliefs. If your buyer persona values health, wellness, and the environment, your brand must reflect that.

a plate of food with guacamole on itSource: Chipotle

Think of the leading Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle. Unlike their competitor Taco Bell, they use fresh, locally sourced products, reinventing fast food as healthy and nutritious. Chipotle’s motto, “food with integrity,” was inspired by what founder Steve Ells learned about American food production (that it’s far from ideal for our health and planet).

Market your brand

The final brand building block is marketing. What’s the point of creating an amazing brand if nobody hears about it?

a pair of bottles with brown liquidSource: Coca-Cola United

Use an effective marketing strategy to get your brand in front of your target audience. Post on social media platforms regularly, hire professionals to run marketing campaigns, and maintain a consistent brand voice to foster trust and build brand awareness and recognizability.

Interested in starting a clothing brand? Check out this article if you want to know how to start a clothing brand.

Now, let’s dive into the actionable steps to build a brand!

How to build a brand in 10 steps

So, you want to carve your success in the ecommerce world. Where to begin?

Think of all the popular brands worldwide and what they have in common. A solid brand is authentic, consistent, and intrinsically valuable.

It’s no secret that building a loyal customer base like Adidas or Nike takes a lot of work. You’ll need to conduct market research, create a memorable brand identity, develop a brand marketing strategy, define your brand style guide, and always put your customers first.

But how can you be sure you’re doing everything right? Luckily, there’s a scientific approach for how to build a brand. And we’ve broken it down into 10 steps you can start implementing today.

1. Define your brand’s audience

Your customers are what makes your brand go round. That’s why it’s paramount to define your target market first. Creating a buyer persona is an excellent exercise to start with.

a man in a white shirt and tieSource: Flickr

Use the questions below to understand who will use your product or service. You don’t have to answer every question in detail—you can always adjust them later when you learn more about your customers.

  • Location: Are they local, national, or international customers?

  • Demographics: How old are they? What’s their gender, job, or income level?

  • Psychographics: What are their values? What are their hobbies and lifestyle? What kind of personality do they have?

  • Market trends: What kind of trends do they follow?

  • Buying habits: How much do they spend on similar products/services each year? Are they loyal to one brand or more? What kind of stores do you think they currently buy from?

When you’re done with these questions, think about what desires or problems your market has that your brand can help with.

2. Be clear about your brand’s purpose

According to the ’Father of Marketing’, Philp Kotler: “Today, a brand is the company’s promise to deliver a specific benefit that addresses a particular need of its customers.”

In other words, be clear about how your brand meets your customers’ needs or desires. The first step is to know why you exist and what you stand for.

Begin by creating a clear mission statement that defines your brand’s purpose and value systems.

Your mission statement will guide other branding efforts, meaning it must be consistent with your business plan and core values. Remember, a mission statement is mostly for internal use to help you create a strong brand identity. You can include it on your website, but it doesn’t have to be catchy like a slogan.

For example, adidas’ mission statement is “To be the global leader in the sporting goods industry with brands built on a passion for sports and a sporting lifestyle. We are committed to continuously strengthening our brands and products to improve our competitive position.’’

Their slogan is a lot catchier—“impossible is nothing.”

a group of people celebratingSource: Adidas Group

The next step in defining your brand’s purpose is developing a strong brand positioning statement. While a mission statement explains why the brand exists and what values it holds, a positioning statement shows how the brand/product is unique among competitors. It’s your unique value proposition (UVP).

A positioning statement should include what you offer, who you serve, and what sets you apart. Identify your customers’ needs and pain points, and show them how your product or service can solve their problems. Here’s a template to get you started:

We present [PRODUCT/SERVICE] to [VALUE PROPOSITION] for [TARGET MARKET]. We are [KEY DIFFERENTIATOR] in contrast to [THE COMPETITION].

Here’s an example:

We present “EcoClean Home” to ‘‘busy urban homeowners seeking eco-friendly and efficient cleaning solutions.” We are ‘‘the first to offer a cleaning service using 100% plant-based, non-toxic products” in contrast to ‘‘traditional cleaning companies relying on harsh chemicals harmful to health and the environment.”

You can use your positioning statement as the basis for your company guidelines.

Pro tip: To sell your product, customers should feel like the result of doing nothing will cost more than your proposed solution.

3. Design a brand identity

A brand identity encompasses a brand’s visual assets, name, behavior, values, and tone of voice in advertising, content creation, promotions, and customer service. It’s all the components that help consumers differentiate a company from its competitors.

When developing your brand identity, come back to your buyer persona. Think of how they speak, dress, and look and how these qualities translate to your brand’s visual identity and communication style.

The visual identity includes your brand’s color palette, fonts, images, shapes, and other visual elements used in its products and promotions.

For example, LEGO has a broad audience ranging from kids to adults. But they all have one thing in common—a playful and creative spirit. They express this in their brand logo, font choice, and colorful brand image.

a diagram of a brand frameworkSource: LEGO

You can see LEGO’s focus on qualities like fun, imagination, and learning in their brand values, and across their website and communication channels.

4. Craft a brand story and develop a brand personality

Your brand story is like the autobiography of your business—its inspiration, origins, and journey. It could be your own story as a founder or an inspiring collective mission. A brand story is a valuable tool for branding because it humanizes your business and creates meaningful connections with customers. 

a man holding a wooden plankSource: Burt’s Bees

People love stories. They’re relatable, immersive, and usually convey a valuable message. Crafting a brand story and developing your brand’s personality will help customers remember you.

When writing your brand’s story now, go back to your brand values, target audience, and mission statement. Ask yourself the following questions to get started.

What elements of your own story will resonate with your target audience? What do they need to know to connect with you as a person? How do you wrap your personal brand, values, and mission into your story to tell customers, “this is a brand for you”?

Use your buyer persona as the main character and your product or service as the solution, and show them what will happen if they don’t buy your solution. Create a relatable and engaging story that resonates with their desires, challenges, and aspirations.

a woman in a green dress sitting on a floor with a box and a forkSource: HelloFresh

For example, HelloFresh speaks to working families and individuals who don’t have time to cook or invent new recipes. They’re either bored eating the same foods or realize eating takeout is taking a toll on their health and wallet. The HelloFresh brand personality is funny, quirky, and reliable.

To build a brand personality, think of how you wish to communicate with your customers and what you want to be remembered for (classy, reliable, exciting, quirky, inspiring, etc). Figure out what brand voice resonates with your audience and sets you apart.

5. Pick a memorable brand name

Choosing a company name is one of the most vital decisions you’ll make as a business owner. When selecting a brand name, aim for something unique that no other company is using. Also, make sure social media handles are available.

Your brand name should be meaningful and appropriate to your offered service or product and easy to remember but difficult to imitate.

There are several ways to approach choosing a brand name.

  • Creating a new word (e.g., Kleenex or Popsicle, both trademarked by the company founders and now widely used to refer to any brand that produces a similar product)

  • Creating an acronym from a longer name (e.g., IBM’s full company name is International Business Machines Corporation)

  • Combining words (e.g., “Instagram” is a fusion of “Instant” and “Telegram”)

  • Using a word unrelated to your industry (e.g., telecom company Orange)

  • Describing it literally (e.g., RayBan that blocks UV rays or Whole Foods Market)

  • Inspirational figures like Amazon, named after the largest river, or Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory

  • Using your own name (e.g., Air Jordan or Armani)

  • Relevant words or phrases like PetSmart, DoorDash, or Paypal

  • A suggestive word or metaphor (e.g., Starbucks was named after a character from ‘‘Moby Dick” to honor early coffee traders’ seafaring tradition)

  • Altering a word by changing its spelling, removing letters, adding letters, or using Latin endings (e.g., Flickr, Reddit, Accenture)

For example, Google is a play on the word ‘‘googol,” which represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeros—a clever reference to the engine’s vast search capabilities.

a sign on a wallSource: Wikimedia Commons

Pro tip: When creating a website, use domain name generators to discover available domains corresponding to the brand name. This will make it easier for potential customers to find your company’s site.

For more brand marketing tips, check out our article on how to come up with a brand name.

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6. Craft a catchy slogan

A slogan is a catchy, punchy phrase that sticks in your head like a popular song. It captures the essence of your brand in a handful of words.

Your slogan must be short, easy to remember, and consistent with the rest of your branding efforts. It should fit easily in your social media posts, bio, website header, email signature, and more. And it should resonate with your brand personality.

When done right, it works like magic. Just think of KFC’s “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good”. It paints a picture of enjoying a good meal and cleverly implies how tasty their fried chicken is. Plus, it rolls off the tongue.

a chicken and fries on a tableSource: Instagram

So, what’s the science behind crafting a magical slogan? Let’s look at the tactics for crafting a successful slogan.

  • Make it memorable. Create a catchy rhyme or phrase like the McDonald’s slogan, “I’m lovin‘ it,” or Lays’ ‘‘Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.”

  • Highlight the benefits of your product/service. Tide: ‘‘Tough on stains, gentle on clothes” highlights Tide’s ability to efficiently clean clothes while remaining gentle on fabrics.

  • Evoke positive emotions. Tap into the 6 human needs and show how your brand meets these desires. For example, L’Oréal Paris plays on people’s desire to feel unique, important, special, or needed with their slogan ‘‘Because You’re Worth It.”

  • Describe what you do. Keep it simple and obvious by letting people know exactly what you do (e.g., agriculture company, The Mosaic Company uses the slogan ‘‘We Help the World Grow the Food It Needs”)

  • Convey your unique brand personality. Show your customers what you value. For example, Nike’s ‘‘Just Do It” shows their motivated spirit, while Apple’s ‘‘Think Different” conveys their strive for authenticity and innovation.

a man with his hands on his faceSource: Medium

Let your slogan reflect your own brand identity. Remember, it should be brief and powerful to make it effective in marketing materials.

Your logo is one of the first impressions of your brand. It should be captivating, memorable, and adequate for your product or service.

Research what types of logos successful brand competitors use to ensure your brand’s logo is one-of-a-kind. A logo frequently combines several visual elements, so there are a few things to consider, like font, imagery, and color scheme.

a color wheel with different colorsSource: Canva

Start by familiarizing yourself with color theory. Rooted in art and science, color theory explores the use, mixing, and effect of color. Artists, designers, and marketers often apply color theory principles to evoke specific responses or emotions to achieve certain effects.

For example, red has been shown to induce hunger, while blue elicits peace, tranquility, and security. That’s why fast food chains like Mcdonald’s and Arby’s have predominantly red logos, while tech giants or payment systems like Intel, HP, and PayPal use blue.

The next step in designing a brand logo is choosing the font. Your font choice is just as important as your selected brand colors. Select a typeface that accurately captures the personality and voice of your brand.

a man and woman looking at each otherSource: Dumbclub

A large, bold font conveys strength. Serif fonts are frequently connected to authority. A script font can communicate to consumers that your company is more lighthearted.

Pro tip: When incorporating text into your logo, make sure it’s readable, even when small or in black and white.

Finally, consider adding imagery to your brand logo. Different logotypes, like mascots, emblems, abstract logos, monograms, wordmarks, icons, and combination logos, are used for branding and marketing purposes.

To create a unique and identifiable logo, draw inspiration from a familiar source. For instance, Twitter’s blue bird literally conveys what you can do with the brand—tweet.

8. Establish brand guidelines

A brand’s guidelines outline how its visual identity, typography, tone of voice, and logo should be presented, ensuring brand consistency across all marketing platforms. Brand consistency fosters customer loyalty and trust.

To develop your brand guidelines, start with your color palette. Come back to color theory and decide on a color palette that you’ll use across your entire brand—on your website, marketing campaigns, social media pages, and other visual brand assets.

The second step is to decide what fonts you’ll incorporate into your brand identity. Choose one font for headings and one for general text. Save decorative fonts for your logo or special occasions.

Your wordmark logo should also be in a different font. Just think of Google, The New York Times, or Coca-Cola.

a collage of different logosSource: Looka

Next, set the guidelines for aesthetic elements and effects. If your brand extensively uses lifestyle photography, you might want to create guidelines to maintain the same tone regardless of the photographer. Include the rules for tone, colors, effects, and photo filters.

Additionally, you can create a set of graphic components to apply to all your branded properties. These could be squiggles, texture effects, or characters. Share your brand guidelines with employees, freelancers, and anyone representing your brand to ensure consistency.

Don’t forget to include tone of voice and use of language. What words are acceptable, what are your common catchphrases, and how do you wish to come across?

9. Build consistent branding across platforms

Make sure your audience can easily recognize your brand across all platforms. If your brand’s personality is quirky and fun on social media platforms, let that show in your website copy (like Marie Forleo does).

As you build a brand presence, refer to your guidelines, mission statement, brand story, positioning statement, and values. Ensure every decision keeps your target audience and your brand’s core values in mind.

Below are several tips on how to build a brand consistently across platforms, covering effective marketing channels like social media platforms, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Social media platforms are excellent tools for building brand awareness and customer interaction. Ensure you reply to followers’ comments, engage in relevant topics, and partner with influencers to increase your reach. Check out these 10 effective social media strategies to get started.

  • Email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI). Create a newsletter to build connections with potential leads and send offers directly to customers’ inboxes. Use catchy subject lines to increase the email open rate and include a clear CTA (call to action). Check out these effective email marketing strategies for better results.

  • SEO is critical for modern marketing. Successfully optimizing web content positions your brand as an authority, increases traffic, and improves conversion rates. All web content, including YouTube channels, Google profiles, and podcasts, should be optimized using target keywords. Find out more in our SEO guide.

Wherever your brand appears, you want customers to recognize you. Whether it’s a post on Instagram, an email directly in their inbox, or a Facebook ad popping up in their feed, it should feel familiar and genuine. Consistency is trustworthy, and trust attracts loyal customers.

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10. Don’t be afraid to adjust or rebrand

Finally, don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself if your current brand strategy isn’t working. While maintaining a consistent brand is important, sometimes your brand can benefit from a change. If you’re selling with the print-on-demand business model, consider staying updated with trending products to keep your storefront fresh and relevant.

Maybe your brand was doing well, but then your customer count dropped significantly, and you need a way to attract new customers.

That’s what happened to 90-year-old company Old Spice in the ’90s. Before their successful rebranding campaign, Old Spice’s market consisted of older men, and their consumer count was slowly decreasing. They needed to appeal to the younger generation and pronto.

After an unsuccessful rebranding attempt in 2002, Old Spice contracted award-winning advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy in 2010. They developed the marketing campaign featuring NFL star Isaiah Mustafa as the ‘‘Old Spice Guy”.

a man holding a bottle of shampooSource: YouTube

The ad was immensely successful, doubling the company’s sales and increasing website traffic by 300%.

By July 2010, Old Spice sales rose by 125%, becoming the top-selling men’s body wash brand by year-end and outbeating its main competitor, AXE. Their YouTube channel became an internet sensation with millions of views. Check the full Old Spice case study for more details.

Pro tip: When rebranding your company, don‘t forget about your existing customers—they’re the most important ones. Ask them to share their opinion and impressions of your brand and what you could do to improve their experience.

Stop dreaming of your own brand—make it a reality

Building a brand is a long process that requires careful planning, innovation, and consistency—but it’s 100% worth it. By following these steps and remaining true to your brand’s values, you can create a strong and memorable brand that resonates with your audience on a deeper level.

Your brand is not just about what you say—it’s about what you do, how you do it, and what impression you leave in customers’ minds. To truly reflect the heart and soul of your business, you must invest time and effort into building a brand you love.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the journey. Be sure to involve your customers in the brand-building process and foster meaningful connections along the way. Present and market your brand effectively, and you’ll be surprised at the number of lives you can positively impact.

Never underestimate the power of a strong brand.

author

By Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa on May 9, 2024

Zoe Amora Iranzo-Lauriņa

Guest author

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.

Zoe is a creative writer, multilingual translator, and certified yoga instructor with a passion for learning, traveling, and global cuisine. When she's not typing away at her PC, you can find her teaching yoga in the park, reading on the couch with her cat, or plunging in the Mediterranean.