Eight Basics of Branding

ezeby Alexandra Golaszewska
Founder, Helios Media

The word “brand” can be a synonym for mark. A lot of people think it’s just about a logo, but there’s more to it than that.

You probably know that your work is at its best when you work with your ideal clients. When those people are looking for someone like you, they’re really looking for help solving a problem.

Your brand:

  • Reflects the personality of your business
  • Appeals to your ideal clients
  • Has a consistent look and voice

Here are some things to get you started:

  1. Write up a detailed description of your ideal client. This might not be your most common one. Think about the kind of person who is looking the specific thing you are great at doing, and — this is very important! — with whom you enjoy working. Is this person male? Female? Has kids, or no? Lives in the city, or somewhere rural, or somewhere in between? How does this person dress? What does s/he drive?

    You might find that you have more than one, but get as detailed on them as you can. As you go through the other steps, always refer back to this and ask yourself whether what you’re doing feels like a fit for that person. 
  2. Figure out your business name. You could use your own name, which is fine; lots of people do that. Or you could choose a fictitious name; one that is memorable and sounds appropriate for your business.

    Check your local laws about what you need to do in order to do business under your fictitious name. 
  3. Get your domain name. You can register through a company like NameCheap.com or GoDaddy.com, or if you are going to use a platform like squarespace.com for your website, you can register the name there.

    Tip: Don’t go to a registration site and search there unless you’re actually ready to buy the name right away. If you’re still thinking about options, just open a web browser window and type the name in to see whether it’s available. There’s a shady practice known as domain name front running, which happens when someone can see that you’ve searched a registration site for a name. Knowing that you’re interested, they buy it, and the domain that was available for $9.99 suddenly costs $1500.

    If the name you want isn’t available with .com, don’t worry — you might be able to get it with a different domain extension. Mine ends with .media, which is appropriate for my business. Did you know that .dog is an option? Here’s a full list. 
  4. Get a logo. Logo design can get expensive and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re working with a graphic designer, you’ll make much faster progress if you go into your first discussion with some examples of logos you like (or dislike) and why, and with a really good description of what your business does. Make sure you get a square version of your logo so you can use it as the avatar on all of your business social media accounts. 

    If your budget is small and you can’t invest in a true logo right now, you can always choose a typeface and style that you consistently use on everything.

    There are websites that connect clients with very low-cost designers. If you go this route, find someone whose work really looks like what you want, and make sure you are very clear on your expectations regarding timing, edits, how many versions you’ll see, etc. I know several people who have hired designers this way, only to find that the logo they received wasn’t what they wanted at all, and the pricing of edits drove the cost up way beyond the budget. 

  5. Build your website. This doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive; you can use a simple platform like Squarespace or WordPress. You need to have something, because the first thing most prospective clients do is look you up on the Internet, and these days, legitimate businesses have a web presence. At the minimum, make sure it includes your contact information, logo, location, and some basics about what you do. We’ll get into more about websites in a future article. 
  6. Order business cards. You meet potential clients everywhere. If you don’t have a great local printer, moo.com is a good option for cards. The quality is great, and you don’t need to order a huge quantity. 
  7. Be consistent with the look and feel of everything. It isn’t just the logo; it’s the colors, fonts, the voice. When you do this right, people recognize your brand before they even see the name. The look and style of your business cards should match your website, your social media pages, your invoices… everything. 
  8. Get your social media going. This is a much bigger topic than this article, so we’ll be writing more about this in the future. But if you’re getting started in social media, or you’re thinking that your presence needs to be changed up, think about what your ideal clients are using (you could even ask a few of them), what you enjoy using, and where you might be able to get some help. If you love taking photos but have never used Instagram, you can always learn how to use it. If you don’t like Pinterest but someone who works for you is great at it, maybe you can have that person manage a Twitter account for you.

This is the first article in a new CCPDT marketing series.
Want us to cover something in particular? Send your questions to alexandra@helios.media.