Branding is probably one of the most important aspects of starting and marketing any business. Yes, starting a business is hard, but turning your business into something that people relate to and want to engage with is crucial to your success.

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The definition of the verb, ‘To Brand’ is the process of making a mark. This is exactly what you want to do with your brand. It is what your potential clients and current customers think of your business. Branding is everything that represents your company from your logo, slogan, messaging, product, customer service, and more. The first thing you want to pop into your customers mind when they hear your company’s name or see your logo is based on how you have branded your company.

Branding does not revolve around the product it is all about the emotional connection or the feelings your brand inspires in others. Your brand is like your personality; you want to be the friend everyone wants to hang out with, right? This is exactly why branding can make or break or your success.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Branding is different then marketing or advertising. Branding comes first. You must create the brand, and then market it.

So, the first questions you should ask yourself when starting your quest for the perfect branding is: What does your company stand for? What do you represent? If you aren’t able to answer these questions, neither will your customers. Defining these foundational pillars sets the groundwork for a consistent and solid brand.

Once you have defined your company’s values, you need to determine how you want the customer to feel when engaging with your product or service. Do you want them to feel empowered? Successful? Sexy? These feelings all govern how you position your company relative to your industry. Everything from your logo, key messages, to your customer service, and product offering must take part in making your client feel a uniform emotion/perception.

Your positioning is your brand’s promise to making someone feel that particular feeling. So, ask yourself: What are you promising your customers? Are you promising them success? Are you promising them self-confidence? Of course, make sure this is a promise you can keep.

Here are a few of the questions that you should ask yourself while you start your branding journey.

1. What does your brand stand for? What do you represent?

2. What emotions/feelings do you want to manifest within your customers?

3. What promise are you making to your clients and customers?

Start by jotting down words and phrases as a brainstorm. As you move through the branding process, you will use these to establish the rest of your brand and marketing while differentiating yourself from your competitors.

A few brands that really stand out in my mind:

Pepsi: Live For Now

L’Oreal: Because You’re Worth It

Chevrolet: Like a Rock

Although these are slogans, which come later, they represent their positioning and their promise to their customers. For example, when I think about “Like a Rock,” I get the feeling of being solid, strong, and capable of achieving anything. They nailed it. Yes, these might be power brands, but this does not mean that you can’t do the same for your small business.