Branding 102: Developing Your Look, Feel, and Message

Updated: Mar 29, 2019

How do I know?

Okay, so we’ve established the reasons why branding is important [Branding 101: Why It Matters], but now what? What’s the best way to go about developing your company’s look, feel, and message? It all starts with taking the time to first uncover your company’s brand positioning.

Brand positioning is essentially defining your brand’s personality. What makes it stand out from competitors? If it were a person, who would it be? What is your company’s Mission Statement? What about its vision? What are your company’s values? What is the main reason your company exists (its “why”)? Taking the time to do this work and do it well -- to truly dig into what makes your company special -- will be a good investment, as you’ll then have a much clearer sense of what your brand should look like and sound like.

Brand positioning work tends to include steps such as researching competitors, interviewing current customers and employees, and doing research about the industry as a whole. It takes into account how your company began, how it’s evolved, and where it hopes to go in future years.

With this brand positioning firmly locked in, you can then move into the next stage of brand identity, which is layering on a look, feel, and tone. These steps can include things like your logo, your brand’s color palette, what style of imagery makes the most sense for your brand, and how your brand sounds when it communicates. (Is it authoritative and academic? Is it casual and young? Is it wise and generous?) It’s also extremely helpful to develop a brand guidelines document alongside this process. This branding guideline will act as your company’s North Star for all things branding. It will help inform design choices, partnerships, and more.

Doing this work well can take several weeks or months, but it’s important to start here in order to set your brand up for clarity and success as you incorporate additional branding elements on top of it.

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