A Woman’s Guide to Brand Development

Jun 7, 2020 | Career

Marin Emily Johnson is a business owner and iced latte enthusiast. View profile 

When starting a business, I think it’s always best to start with brand development. Why? The brand will give your business an identity. It will inform the decisions you make as a company. It will help you attract your ideal audience and speak to them in an engaging way.

Take a minute and think of your favorite companies and brands. Why are they your favorite? What attracted you to them? I’m willing to bet a large piece of it comes from them having a strong brand identity.

What exactly is a brand identity? It is simply everything that makes up a brand: the colors, fonts, images, tone of voice, and overall style.


Developing Your Brand Identity

The first step in brand development is developing your brand identity, that is to come up with an overall style. There are many ways to pinpoint your brand identity, and it’s typically a creative process. There isn’t a formula to follow or an exact step-by-step way to do it. However, there are a few things you can do to get the wheels turning.

 1. Create a mood board.  This is always my first step when developing a new brand.  Clip photos out of magazines, start a Pinterest board, or even walk through your home to see what kind of styles and colors jump out at you.

2. Play around.  Go into Canva, Adobe Illustrator, or whichever program you have available to you, and start looking at colors, fonts, and branding elements such as shapes and illustrations.  Don’t try to edit things down just yet, simply add whatever catches your eye.

3. Start to group things together.  As you go through these activities, you’ll likely discover that you enjoy a lot of different styles.  Start grouping them by putting elements together in ways that look like a possible brand identity.  For example, bold elements will group together nicely with bright colors.  Organic shapes will group together with neutral colors.


Choosing a Brand Identity

The next step in brand development is to start to refine your brand and make it your own. Looking at your mood boards that you created in step one, choose one brand identity to move forward with. There are a few things to consider while you’re doing this.

1. Don’t just choose your favorite.  The reason for this is that it may not match your business.  When I created my mood boards, I was in love with an industrial-looking brand with dark colors and copper touches.  However, it didn’t match the brand I was creating.  My brand voice was crisp, clean, and simple.  It’s really important to take note of what message you’re communicating with your audience, and how you will communicate that message.

2. Don’t choose something because it looks like an existing brand that you love. This will stunt your growth, because you’ll forever be trying to live up to that brand and be just like them. Choose something that is original to you.

3. Make sure you like it. While it’s important to not just choose a brand identity because it’s your favorite, or because it looks like a brand you admire, you still want to make sure that it excites you. You’ll be working a lot with your chosen colors, fonts, and images, so you don’t want to tire of them quickly.

It’s important to note here that your brand can and will likely evolve over time. You’re not locked into your choices forever.

Make the Brand Development Happen

Once you have chosen your brand identity, it’s time to run with it.  The most important thing right now is to not get stuck trying to make it perfect.  Create content, create images, have fun with your new brand.  It will evolve as your business does. 

Something that often trips people up when creating a brand is the tech stuff. If you’re experienced with graphic design or using the Adobe Creative Suite, then keep on keeping on with that. However, if you’re brand new to the design world, here are a few resources to help you get started:

1.  Canva.  Canva has both a free and a paid version (both are fabulous) to help you create brand images, color palettes, and social media graphics. 

2. PicMonkey. While very similar to Canva, it has some different templates and illustrations available. Choose whichever one fits your brand style best. 

3. Brit + Co. This company has affordable classes on everything from creating in Adobe Illustrator to using Photoshop to create brand imagery.

Of course, there are also many free videos on YouTube to help you get started. I want to emphasize a point from above once again: It will not be perfect from the beginning, but I promise you that it will steadily improve as you go.


The Final Brand Development Component

There is one final — and very important — thing to cover regarding brand development. That is your brand messaging.  Your brand messaging covers everything from how you interact on social media to what you send out in your newsletters. It’s important to make sure it relates to your overall brand identity.  For example, if your brand is all about fun, bold colors, then you don’t want to speak in a way that sounds stiff and corporate. If your brand is more corporate, then you don’t want to speak too informally. 

Again, you will hone this as your brand develops. However, in order to attract your ideal audience, you want to use the right tone from the beginning. Take a look at your brand imagery, fonts, colors, and overall style, and ask yourself: What mood does my brand evoke? This, more than anything, will inform you of how to move forward with your brand messaging. 

That is all, my friends. I hope you take these steps and go on to create the brand of your dreams. You’ve got this.


Short Article Review

  • Why to Have a Brand:  A brand will give your business an identity.  It will inform the decisions you make as a company, help you attract your ideal audience, and interact with them in an engaging way.  
  • How to Begin:  Get creative. Explore what styles you’re drawn to, and experiment with fonts, colors, and imagery.
  • Refine It and Make It Your Own:  Choose a brand identity that excites you and represents your brand personality. Don’t try and make it perfect, it will evolve over time. Just have fun and create, create, create.
  • The Tech Stuff:  A few resources for beginners on how to get started with the tech stuff.
  • Pinpointing Your Brand Messaging:  Brand messaging is everything from the captions you write on Instagram to the content you put into your newsletters. Develop a brand voice that is consistent with your overall brand identity.

The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, tax, investment, financial or other advice.  Always seek the advice of a licensed professional regarding any questions you may have. 

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