Branding process – 2. Research

Last week I covered the first part of the branding process. This week I’m discussing the second part which is research.

Once you know:

– what you want

– what your business is about

– who you’re targeting

– what your values and personality are

– what matters to you

– what you like and dislike

 

THEN you’re ready to do some research. This is research into:

– your competitors

– anything visual related to your business or brand

– colour

– typefaces

 

Your competitors. 

You should know who these are and have identified why people choose you (or should choose you) over them. If you don’t then you didn’t pay attention in part 1 😉

This time, we’re going to take a bit more of a look at them, so pull up that list and take a peek at their website, their social media presence, any printed items you’ve found that they’ve produced. You could create a table where you look at each thing and give it a rating, you could cut and stick to create a board of the things that make them, them. You could simply take a look and decide what works and what doesn’t. What do you like, what do you dislike. Is there anything that your competitors ALL do? For example, if they all use blue then maybe you shouldn’t. If they all use stock photographs (you know, the ones where you can really tell… often people shaking hands on a white background) then maybe you could hire a professional to take some incredible photographs or an illustrator to create something unique.

This part doesn’t have to take a long time, it’s just so you can get a feel for what’s there already and work out how you can differentiate your business for the others so that you don’t blend in.

If you are designing a website as part of your branding experience then it’s worth seeing how your competitors structure theirs. Is there anything that you’re missing in your plan? Similarly with printed items, social media and of course their logo. How can you make sure that you are different enough to be noticed?

Visuals related to your business or brand.

For some businesses this is a lot easier than others! I find it really helpful to scribble pictures (or cut out/ google/ pinterest images) related to your business. For me this would be things like:

– pencils

– pens

– a rainbow (for colour)

– pictures of booklets/ banners etc…

– people networking

– a computer

– cups of tea

you get the idea, so spend some time scribbling and see what you can come up with. Some businesses have more “stuff” than others. I recently did this for a hairdressers and came up with a huge amount of “things” that they need.

HAIRDRESSER-01

This will come in handy because you can get ideas from any of these items.

 

Colour

Colour is a huge subject that certainly can’t be given justice to in a few sentences. To start with, you may already have an idea for the colours you want to use. Maybe your favourite colour is orange, or maybe you have a “green” business so want to use green to indicate that, or maybe you really don’t have a clue!

Colour communicates with us and connects with our emotions so it’s definitely worth spending some time choosing the colours, selecting the shades and ensuring that your colour palette works well.

There are a few ways to go about this:

1. go to your local paint shop and stock up on paint palette booklets. Arrange and rearrange the different colours and shades until you are happy with them

2. google colour and read about the different meanings

3. spend some time on www.colour-affects.co.uk learning about colour meanings

4. ask people what colours they think of when they think of your business

spend some time getting to know colour better and you’ll find that it will work better for you.

 

Typefaces

As with colour, typefaces is another huge topic! The key here is to decide what you need your text to do and determine the types of font that you are looking for. There are various types of font including, at a very basic level:

– serif (with the flicky bits on the letters)

– sans serif (without the flicky bits!)

– script (these are flowing with a handwritten look to them)

– display (these are pretty much anything else that wouldn’t work well in a big chunk of text but that you’d only use for headings)

you need to select a typeface – or a set of typefaces – that is indicative of your brand values and personality, is legible and works for your business. This will probably take some time sifting through your font library and trying things out. You might even choose to download some new fonts. Some typefaces convey different moods such as being corporate or informal, your brand personality will help you to define which font(s), weights and styles are best for you. Personally, I prefer to do this during the creation part of the process, but if you know very little about typefaces then it’s worth starting here to get a good idea of what you’re after.

 

Once you have all of this information then you should be ready to move onto creating your brand! (Please note, you’ve actually already started as you should now have a colour palette and chosen fonts, so you’re ahead of yourself! It’s OK if these change later as long as they are aligned with your brand)

 

NEXT >> Creation

 

 

 

Mini Series: Five steps to grow your brand
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