Making It Know

The Foundation for a Successful Brand

Launching an online business has many moving parts, from refining your business idea and creating a business plan, to developing your unique brand. Creating your brand involves identifying what your business stands for and the kind of customers you want to reach. It’s an intentional process that starts by putting together a brand strategy, sometimes called a brand marketing strategy. This is a long-term blueprint that includes your internal values, and how you talk about and promote your business externally.

Read on to learn how to develop your brand strategy.

Defining your brand mission and vision

When you set out to define your brand mission and vision, you might find that you’ve already laid the groundwork if you have a business plan. A mission statement spells out what your business does and achieves—it’s your company’s purpose. This statement should be concise and direct, and leave people with a clear idea of what you do and why you do it. A brand vision is aspirational and geared toward how you envision the business evolving in the future. 

In other words: Think of your vision statement as your why and your mission statement as your how. Write down your vision for what your business aims to accomplish, and write your mission statement about how you will go about accomplishing that vision. These statements together should help define the core of why your business matters to you and—ideally—to your audience as well. 

Identifying and understanding your target audience

In a nutshell, this step is about identifying who your business is trying to reach, what challenges they face, and how your product or service provides a solution. It might be specific customer personas—for example, environmentally conscious consumers or busy working parents—or a specific demographic, such as millennials.

Your target audience is closely tied to the kind of online business you have or what you're selling. Consider the case of two different sneaker companies. One sneaker brand may be focused on functionality, meaning their target audience would be athletes or those who are physically active. Another sneaker brand may concentrate on being stylish and trendy, leading to a core customer base that values fashion over function.

Your website analytics can help you learn about your audience. For example, which social media channels drive the most qualified traffic to your website? With analytics tools, you can dive into those channels to learn more about the demographics of your audience. 

Establishing a compelling brand message and voice

Every online business has a different communication style. Some businesses are conversational and casual, and speak as if they're a person, while others are more formal and professional. Some channel all external messaging through a specific individual, such as the company's founder, so customers gain trust and get to know someone on a more personal level.

No matter your approach to brand voice, consistency is key. For example, you want to make sure that wherever customers reach your business—social media, email, your website—the messaging and tone is uniform. Customers respond when a brand is consistent and reliable, while still carving out its own differentiated niche.

Identifying your brand touchpoints

Early on, your online business might have limited budget and time for marketing and promotions. Determining the best brand touchpoints—or which channels, both on and offline, are most important for connecting with your customers—can help your marketing efforts make the most impact. For example, artists may want to exhibit at local maker markets and promote the prints they sell with paid social ads, while writers can attend conferences to network and learn new skills. Invest in the social media platforms your audience interacts with most, and consider budgeting for advertising spend, content strategy, and other marketing tools to reach and grow your customer base.  

Creating a visual identity for your brand

Your visual identity conveys subtle messages about your business. This starts with your online presence. 

A brand's visual identity includes elements like logo design, preferred fonts, photography, and color themes. Squarespace offers a free logo maker to help you develop a recognizable mark for your brand. Plug the name of your business into the online app, and then choose the icons, fonts, and colors that align best with your aesthetic vision. You can download the logo and use it on your website, social media, and merchandise.

If you don't have photography to support your brand early on, you can start by using stock imagery from Unsplash, which is built into Squarespace and ready to apply on your website. It's easy to edit each image or apply a filter with the image editor tool so all visual details match your brand's look and feel.

While some aspects of your brand marketing strategy might become permanent, keep in mind that your brand can evolve and pivot as new information or opportunities emerge.

Ready to take the next step? Learn more about building a tech stack for your small business to keep things running smoothly. 

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