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After decades with big brands, I realized how much I love marketing small ones. I'm happiest around a table (even a virtual one) with clients, sharing plans that help them reach the right people. I'm a simplifier and a creator. Also, a lover of cute office supplies.

  • Stacy McPhillips

Want to build a brand? These are the six principles you need to cultivate.


You can build a business, or you can build a brand.


There's one key difference:

Connection.


Brands build connections with the people they serve. They offer value (and lots of it!). You have a relationship with a brand. A brand makes you feel something. And a brand is built over time.


Want to build a brand? These are the six principles you need to cultivate.

  1. Values

  2. Experiences

  3. Personality

  4. Visual identity

  5. Communication

  6. Consistency

✏️ I've even created a worksheet that will help you fill in all of your brand details!




Values

It's not enough to just sell stuff anymore. You have to stand for something. Your brand needs to have meaning. This Hubspot article has a lot of great examples if you're at a loss as to where to start.


Essentially, this is an area where you need to do a little deep diving to discover what's really important to you when conducting your business.


Knowing your values is great for a few reasons.

  • You can use your core values to make decisions. For example, Apple decided pretty early on that one of its core values is innovation. And I have to imagine that this value was used in making all of their key decisions about products, marketing, and operations. They probably have post-it notes on their computers that say, "Is it innovative?" And if the answer is, "no," it's a no.

  • When your values align with the values of your target customer, then you have something in common. You have shared values and those build emotional connections. People that shop at Patagonia probably care about the environment, right? When customers can see themselves in your brand, they are immediately more engaged with your brand.

This is how you start building a relationship with your connections.


Experiences

You have experiences with brands every day. And those experiences form how you think and feel about the brand.


Close your eyes. Think about your last experience with a brand. Was it good? Was it memorable? What was so great/terrible/meh about it?


Here's mine.

I got my hair colored and cut this past weekend. I've gone to the same place for the past 10+ years. My daughter goes there now, too. My loyalty started when my stylist was just able to give me the same consistent color every time I went. (Literally, she just writes it down on a card—but no one was able to get it right before her!) And she remembers everything about me—what TV shows we both like, my family, my work, all of it. And it's the same every time I go, so I know exactly what to expect. Here's the kicker—I travel out of my way to go there and pay a premium.


What your customers experience with your brand forms their perception of your brand. Valuable experiences lead to loyalty. Meh or poor experiences lead to forget-ability.


What do you want people to experience when they interact with your brand?



Personality

Your brand personality helps differentiate you from competitors and helps your customers/clients know what to expect from you.


Fun fact: In my city, there are over 100 ice cream shops. They all sell ice cream. But they're also different. One of the ways they're different is their brand personalities. Here are a few different types:

  • Family ice cream parlor serving classic flavors.

  • Innovative flavors in a bright and cheery space.

  • Mexican-inspired flavors with fresh fruit with hot pink and lime green shops.

  • And then, maybe the most interesting, there is one that's inspired by Asian pop culture, plays rap music in-store, serves ice cream in puffles and their tagline is "get cream'd."

All of these ice cream personalities add to the overall perception of their brand. And it helps us make sense of how all the ice cream shops can exist at the same time.


If you love ice cream—and who doesn't—you're going to connect with one of those ice cream shops more than the others. And when someone starts arguing with you about the best ice cream shop, you're going to make your case for Jeni's. Because they are the best ice cream shop. 😂


Visual Identity

Your visual identity is the way your brand looks everywhere it's at. Your logos, fonts, colors, photography style—how these extend to social media, packaging, brick and mortar locations, signage, all the things. (Tip: Make a list of everywhere your brand will be visually.)


And everything that we've spoken about thus far can be used to help determine your visual identity.


What do you want your visual brand to communicate?


One note here: This is not about your favorite colors or using your favorite animal, car, activity, etc... to make your logo. It's about your brand and what you want your brand marks to convey to your target audience. Try to be objective.


I highly recommend that you engage a designer for this part of brand building. (Need a designer, I have recommendations! Contact me.) She can serve as your voice of objectivity but also strategically design for how people will interact with your brand and how it will visually appeal to your target audience.


Communication

How does your brand communicate with your target audience across video, copy, captions, audio, when your employees talk to your customers, and when you speak with your clients?


Is your brand serious or casual? Does it use humor? If yes, what kind of humor? How about swearing? Use emojis? Which ones?


This is the most overlooked brand principle and without putting thought into it, we tend to default to boring with a general lack of personality.



Consistency

Arguably, this is the most important of the six principles because we generally don't form opinions of brands after just one experience. It takes a lot of experiences to connect and form relationships with the brands we love.


And if every experience is something new and different, it's confusing. We don't know what to expect.



Design experiences for your customers/clients the help them know what to expect each and every experience. Use the same logo, colors and fonts over and over and over. Communicate in the same tone of voice no matter who's writing. Stick to your values. Be the same brand over time.



Conclusion


Business owners that are focused on building a brand, set themselves apart. They care about their customers. They care about how their brand makes people feel. They care about connecting in a way that is memorable and meaningful.


And it gives them an advantage in business. Build a brand.


(Here's the brand worksheet again ⬇️)




Hey, I'm Stacy! My business is Pencil Point Marketing.

And I'm here to tell you that marketing your business doesn't have to feel overwhelming.


If any of these describe you, I can help!

  • You know you want to grow your business but you don't know where to start with marketing.

  • You're not sure how to create graphics or write copy or record videos.

  • You're unclear about what should even be on a website.

  • You don’t know which is better - email or social media.

  • You don’t know what to post on social media. You don’t even know which platforms would work best for your business/organization.

  • Even if you did marketing stuff, you don’t know how you’ll know if it’s working.

  • You feel overwhelmed at the thought of it all!

Contact me to chat!