5 steps to creating an awesome brand style that makes you stand out (+ free brand style worksheet)
How many times have you thought ‘this is it, these are the colours I’m going to use for my brand’ only to find yourself changing your mind a few weeks later when you get lost down a Pinterest hole full of pretty branding pins?
This is one of the most common pitfalls I see when it comes to brand styling and if you’ve found yourself chopping and changing, wavering on style decisions and getting frustrated by not feeling like you’re getting anywhere with styling your brand, then there’s a good chance it’s because you don’t fully understand your brand story.
It’s the step that most brand owners skip (yes you are a brand owner).
But taking a little bit of time to lay the foundations and create a clear vision of who you are, what you stand for and who you serve - will help give you clarity, set a clear creative direction and is the first step in creating a one-of-a-kind brand style that your customers can get to know, like and trust.
Here are 5 steps you can take to developing a brand style that gives your brand the competitive edge:
before we begin:
So you know what the end goal is - by the end of this blog post I want you to have 3-5 keywords that describe your brand. These adjectives should lead your creative decisions and indicate how to style your brand.
Use the following questions to get clearer on how your brand should look and feel (don’t forget to download your free worksheet and jot down answers as you go).
To get your free brand style worksheet, sign up below!
STEP 1: THE BIG VISION
I know you might be thinking this is a bit overkill for a side hustle, but without your brand vision, you can’t truly define your purpose and values, and without your purpose and values, you’re not setting yourself apart from your competitors. I’m also a big advocate of encouraging women to think BIG so even if you’re thinking ‘but this is just an Etsy shop’ or ‘I’m just blogging for fun’, if you start with the vision to grow your brand, this mindset will serve you well. So the first step in this process is to identify where you want to be heading.
The following questions can help you work out your brand direction:
Think big, what do you want to achieve with your brand?
What would you be doing with your business if you knew you couldn’t fail?
How does your brand style need to reflect this bigger vision?
Pro tip: The idea is to design for where you want your brand to be, not where it currently is. Forget how small it may feel at the moment and allow yourself to dream big. Remove the limits and set your imagination free then use the free worksheet to write down your answers.
STEP 2: DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE
Your brand purpose is the reason you exist (beyond making money). It’s the meaning behind your existence and should add value to the lives of your customers. Creating a strong brand purpose gives you authority and a greater meaning as well as helping your brand stand out and build brand loyalty.
Use the following questions to define your brand’s purpose:
What does your business offer and how does it deliver it?
What do you do better than the rest?
How are you doing things differently?
What do you want to be known for?
Pro tip: It may feel uncomfortable but allow yourself to brag for a minute. If you’re finding this part hard, imagine how a friend or family member would describe your product, skills or service. Don’t forget to write your answers on the worksheet!
STEP 3: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Before you brand or market your business, it's essential to know who you are targeting. By researching your ideal customer you’re better placed to understand the brand style that will most resonate and connect with their taste.
Use the following questions to help build up a picture of the type of person you’re communicating with:
Who is your ideal customer or client? Be specific, describe one person who would be attracted to your product or service.
What do they value about what you do?
Which other brands do they buy into? Where do they like to shop, which magazines do they read etc?
How do you want your ideal customer to feel when they come into contact with your brand?
Pro tip: Don’t worry about being too specific or leaving people out. The goal is to create a profile of your ideal customer, so think only of the type of customer that is the exact fit for your business.
STEP 4: STAND FOR SOMETHING (know your values)
What does your brand represent? Your brand values should be distinctive, authentic and honest. They’re a set of guiding principles at the core of your brand which shape your brand message, look and personality. They’re also the main reason customers connect with you over the competition as audiences are more likely to trust a brand which shares the same values.
To uncover the meaning behind your brand ask yourself the following questions:
What values drive your business?
Why do you do what you do?
What do you feel particularly passionate about - e.g. with Mum-Folk I’m particularly passionate about women’s rights, equality and women feeling empowered to change their circumstances. These values are present in the type of design style I’ve created for my brand.
If you were aligned with a charity, which causes would you support?
What’s important to you about the way you run your business?
Pro tip: Make sure these values help distinguish you from the competition. Generic qualities that are simply good to have in business e.g. professional, trustworthy etc won’t help during the creative process. Although these are great values to have in business, they wont help you develop a unique visual identity.
STEP 5: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Hopefully by now you’re starting to get a clearer picture of your brand - the who, what and why that make up your brand story and personality. So the next step is to use the answers to these questions to guide your style decisions.
Your brand shouldn’t be everything to everyone so now’s the time to start narrowing down your focus and letting your uniqueness shine.
Using your answers to the questions above, choose 3-5 adjectives that sum up your brand and can help visually set your brand apart.
‘okay so now what?’
If you’re wondering what to do next with this set of brand adjectives, fear not I have you covered!