These days, branding is about so much more than a logo and a tagline. Creating an effective brand for your business is as much about creating a unique character as it is about company philosophy. The best brands today have been described as something more like ‘movements’ – think GoPro’s Be a Hero – that is to say, something with a strong message that people will identify with and want to get behind.

Of course, if you don’t have the marketing budget of a massive corporation, it can feel like an impossible feat to cultivate such a brand. But branding is something that can be done very effectively on any scale: here are three essentials to remember.

1. Colour

Colours are powerful things when you know how to use them, and it’s well-established that choosing your company’s ‘signature colour’ is an important part of the branding process. And when I say this I really do mean ‘colour’, singular. You might feel that the more bright tones you throw at your logo and website, the more eye-catching you’ll be amongst competitors. But that’s not the case at all. It’s generally accepted that your colour palette should ideally consist of no more than three feature colours – one main one and up to two others for contrast or highlighting – plus white/grey/black.

The reason you want to choose such a small number of tones to represent the business is that branding is all about familiarity, and by giving your customers and potential customers a specific colour association, they’ll start to automatically recognise your brand from just a glimpse of that colour. So pick a good one!

2. Consistency

Like having an instantly recognisable colour, it’s vital your brand is recognisably and consistently yours wherever you see it. What that means in practice is that you should try to keep all your online presences, Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. looking similar in terms of colour and style, and also in what kind of content you post there. It’s also a good idea to have a ‘house style’ for social media posts, if you’re not the only one writing them, so that your company appears to speak with its own unique voice regardless of how many contributors you have.

3. Character

If you think about a brand you like or even one you’re just aware of, and then imagine it personified as a human character, you’ll start to understand what I mean when I talk about building a character for your business. Take something like Innocent Smoothies, for example: their company persona is a strong example of this kind of character building. When you imagine Innocent Smoothies come to life as a person you might imagine someone youthful, a bit cheeky, but sweet and wholesome. So take some time to think about how you would like people to describe your business, then write those keywords up in big letters and stick them on your wall to keep you on that path.

The character of your brand should be directly based on the kind of customer you’re hoping to appeal to, because like attracts like and all that. Think less about what you personally would think of your brand and more about what your target audience will think of it (although, given that it’s your business, it’s likely based on your personal tastes anyway!)

Published on 25 April 2016