How to Develop a Brand Identity for Your Small Business
Brand identity and development is so important to your small business, here’s what you can do to continue your growth within an oversaturated and fast-paced industry.
We can’t deny how quickly almost every industry is moving – the internet, the development of technology and production of goods — have all evolved so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Same goes for your brand, product or idea — as a small business owner, you’re acutely aware that you’re often entering or competing in an overloaded market.
However, with the power of brand identity, you can burst through the commotion and start exposing yourself to your prospective customers and building those relationships. Good brand identity is what will set you apart from the amount of new businesses springing up every day — it is what will give your company an undeniably positive perception in the market.
My 17 years of hands-on experience with co-developing an international clothing line, managing recording artists, working on indie projects, and numerous other hats I’ve worn throughout my career, have challenged my creative side and made me realize how branding should always be a crucial element when developing a company.
As intimidating as the brand identity building process may seem, once you harness the competitive advantage of brand development, it can be a redefining moment for you, your team, and your product.
Successful branding is all about connecting the consumer with an emotion.
The very first step into deciphering your brand identity is a series of simple, but important questions:
1. Who are you, exactly? (Product, Artist, Company, Event, Space)
What is a detailed description of who you are, or what your brand is? What do you or your product offer when it comes to emotion, entertainment and feelings it evokes?
2. What is your exact demographic?
Figure out your demographic, ideal audience or exact market space for a brand like yours. Easiest way to do this is to find an established brand that operates similarly. Use internet analysis programs if needed to identify their audience.
3. What makes you unique compared to your predecessors or related industry brands?
Everyone is unique, everyone has a story… What separates you from your competitors? What makes your brand interesting?
4. What story or emotion are you trying to tell/convey?
For example… Harley Davidson does not ‘sell’ motorcycles and accessories, they ‘sell’ an experience. What are you* really selling?
5. What does the most elevated version of your brand look like?
In your ultimate dreams, what is your biggest vision for your brand? What does that look like exactly?
6. What is your purpose and intentions in the market?
What is the ultimate purpose of your idea/product… How does it add value to the world?
For the last few years my specialty has been working with artists and small businesses that are still in the development phase or have just recently launched, and are looking to refine what their brand means. If you’ve undergone this process before and are feeling like you’re off track from the goals you had in mind, consider revisiting the fundamental questions above of who/what your brand is.
The experience of being a dance studio owner (from 2011-2017) allowed me to flow through the trials and tribulations of growing a business myself: “Building a plane while flying it.” We saw a rapid growth in our business because of our efforts with community involvement, merchandise, and events. Understanding your brand’s market is very important because it is what will help you deliver the product in the best way possible.
Once you’ve established the fundamentals of your brand,the work doesn't stop. You still have to keep up with the ever evolving and fast paced industry. Remember to stay true to who you are, but be willing to grow and change with the times to keep your audience engaged.
Some important questions to ask yourself and your team every quarter to keep things fresh and current are:
- What does the current market look like, who are your biggest competitors and how does your strategy look alongside theirs?
- Is there consistency across all your brand’s platforms when it comes to visuals, overall aesthetic and experience? Is your brand very recognizable to the average viewer?
- Do you feel like you are connecting with your audience/consumers enough? What are some more ways to do that? How can you connect with your community more?
- Does your current strategy seem genuine and impactful? Does it make you feel passionate about your work?
- Who are some industry connections or target demographics that will benefit from the brand’s growth? How can you attain those connections?
Iterating on your brand identity on a consistent basis will keep your business strategies ahead of your competitors. Having a strong experience associated with your brand will create an emotional attachment between you and your consumers. And just as important, staying consistent and prioritizing the visual brand identity across social media is an absolute must.
Some easy to use apps that are great to keep the organization of social media posting and content building are:
1. Canva : https://www.canva.com
To create quick, easy to use graphics and designs for your brand.
2. UNUM : https://www.unum.la
Design, schedule and plan all your posts weeks ahead with this app.
3. Unfold : https://unfold.com
A toolkit app for designing (Instagram) stories and more engaging posts.
4. Monday : https://monday.com
For keeping the team and yourself organized and on top of daily scheduling/communications.
About the Author
David Forteau is a Toronto-based entrepreneur, Artist, Motivational Speaker and founder of Tiny Loft Creative Studios. He has spent over a decade working with government programs and non-profits to motivate and empower disenfranchised youths and to give back to the community that he spent his whole life in. His path lead him into working with small businesses, which he believes are the heart beat of the community.
Being an underdog himself, it was natural for David to focus his expertise to help those that could benefit from what he as learnt along the way. He helps small businesses take a closer look at what makes them special and how they can adapt to this fast-paced industry by staying ahead of the curve with a powerful brand story and the tools to help consumers remember them.
David has always had a passion for fashion, which led him co-developing streetwear brand Nozo and Kollar Clothing alongside his other endeavours. David, through his personal work and Tiny Loft Studios, has created content for Canada Goose, Nike, OVO, North Face, Resolve CBD, HP Canada, Miller Genuine Draft, Lids, Kings of Past, and more. He has produced and has been featured on networks like The Ellen Show, Much Music Awards, Hypebeast, Complex, and World of Dance.