How to Build a Brand that Will Grow Your Business (the Ultimate 10-Step Guide)

by Craig McBreen · 30 comments · Branding, Content Marketing, Design


How to Build a Brand-that-Will-Grow-Your-BusinessHow healthy is your brand?

Do you feel that the image you project, truly represents what you do?

Does the tone of your copy jibe with the design of your website?

And what about your posts? Do they proudly display your skills and tell a good story?

In other words, have you built an online property that shows you as an authority, converts readers to customers, and helps grow your business?

To do this effectively – to create a brand that sticks – you need a solid combination of design, content solutions, and strategy.

This doesn’t even include all the other items you must think about: What domain should I choose? Is SEO important? Should I advertise or work on print promotion?

In the past I’ve done my best to explain this process, but I wanted to give you a complete list. An outline that shows you the steps I go through with my clients.

A guide that shows you how to plan it, brand it, then build it.

After you read this you’ll be armed with a plan to craft an online presence that does the following:
A. Displays the true essence of your business.
B. Helps build authority, so you attract the right community.
C. Works wonders for your bottom line.

This post will continue to evolve, because I’m adding new services built on company branding, strategic design, content marketing and social media. So, feel free to share it, bookmark it, and let me know what else you would like to see in the comments below (I do want to hear from you).

Please note that several links in this piece are affiliate links which means I earn a small commission if you buy or sign-up (at no extra cost to you, of course!) Thanks!

Here you go (How to build a brand that will grow your business) …

Step 1. Setting up Your Brand.

Does your business need customers or satisfied clients who would gladly tell the world how great you are and keep coming back for more?

I think you know the answer, but how do you setup a property that proudly displays the soul of your business and is built to attract the right clients?

What if I told you a simple 2-3 sentence exercise is step one?

Yep. It’s a necessary (and relatively easy) step most business owners skip, but it’s extremely important. Trust me on this, I’ve been doing this for 18 years plus.

This is a simple exercise to flesh out your business branding.

You need to spend time and do it right, so read the following and get started:

How to Brand Your Business (and Make Sure You’re Attracting the Right Customers) Step 1

Want to Rebrand Your Business? STOP and Take These Four Steps First

Why Your Brand Needs Purpose

How-to-Pick-the-Perfect-Name-for-Your-Business1Step 2. Naming Your Business, Website, or Blog.

When launching a business, the perfect name can make all the difference in the world. Even businesses with years of brand equity often need a name change.

Here’s where Step 1 (Setting up Your Brand) starts to pay off. If a new name is necessary, it will be glaringly obvious after this process.

Start here to learn more about the naming process: How to Pick the Perfect Name for Your Business (or Blog)

How to Write a killer tagline: I mostly work with established businesses, so nine times out of 10 it’s not a new name that is needed, but rather a shiny new tagline.

Great taglines are effective and do more than you think. I’ve written about the process here: How to Craft a Tagline That Works

Go here, if you want to learn even more about the art and science of taglines.

Step 3. Focus on Copy, Not Design.

Why start with copy?

This is a question clients often ask and here’s my simple answer:
To effectively brand a business you need narrative; without it you’re tethered to a rudderless ship. I discuss this very topic right here.

Think about it, narrative that is.

How will you guide viewers through your site? What keywords will you use on your opening page? How will you define the tone of your overall messaging (your flavor)?

Your story IS your site. It helps you …

a.) craft keywords used to direct viewers to specific pages.

b.) create effective design, fully in-line with your messaging. And …

c.) It’s how you build full-flavored content in the form of site pages, blog posts, videos, and printed brochures.

Your story is your core and your catalyst. And it’s ignited by you … when you take the time to think through Steps 1, 2, and 3 above. (Even if you don’t need a new name or a new tagline this process helps, immensely).

It’s all so simple …
Once you have story, it’s easier to develop site navigation, to build visuals, and to jump on to social and tell the world about your business.

Read more about how story can transform your business here.

You might also want to read (and watch) what Amy Harrison has to say …

AmyHarrison

So, to review …

Step 1. Run through a positioning exercise as step one. Take your time and strain your brain.

Step 2. Experiment with names and taglines, even if you don’t think they are needed.

Step 3. Then craft a complete outline wrapped in narrative.

The process is about taking a ton of information, breaking it down, whittling it down some more, finding the best bits, then crafting something special around that.

Whew! Now you’re ready to assemble the parts.

Step 4. Logo Design.

I won’t go on about how important it is to hire a professional to do this right. Properly designed logos are an essential component of branding done right, but a traditional icon-based logo is not always what you need.

“Properly designed” can mean simple, clean, elegant, and as long as the logo fits with everything else and doesn’t look like a $5 logo, you’re golden.

Just look at my company site and this blog. The branding is cohesive, but the logo is a simple play on typography. This works with what I want to accomplish.

If you go through a proper positioning exercise (basically, Step 1 above) the type of logo you need will start to come into focus.

Simple logotypes work, just look at Carrie Dills, The Minimalists, and ReadWrite.

So do colorful, icon-based logos.

Or identities that cleverly use negative space.

Do I think logos are dead? Of course not, but they are just one component of a complete A-Z branding mix. And doing the necessary legwork up-front (steps 1-3) often means you’ll end up with something that helps define your business.

Create-a-web-sitemap

Step 5. Putting it All Together.

I’m not a designer or writer or content marketer, I’m a combination of all three. I’m also a project manager.

Modern websites are now media properties. There are many moving parts, but it’s also never been easier to get a nice looking site up and running.

And often a clean, easy to navigate site is all that is needed … if you take your time with steps 1-3.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, here’s a detailed post on planning a website based on content (something I’m obviously on board with).

If you want a DIY crash course, Pamela Wilson will guide you through the process.

Lynda.com also offers fee-based courses. (I’ve used them myself and recommend them highly).

If you would rather hire a professional, at least make a quick run through some of the steps above before you meet.

If you’re a blogger, you use WordPress and are probably familiar with Studio Press and Genesis. If you’re a small business owner you’re probably not.

For some clients, a fleshed-out Studio Press theme is all they need. The important thing is to go through the necessary brand positioning steps first, then focus on copy, then map out your site, then contact a designer or developer.

Step 6. Creating a Content Plan.

What is content? It’s blogging, guest posting, podcasting, video … need I go on?

But how in the world does a small business get started with all this?

Well, if you’ve gone through the phases above, crafting a solid content plan is not as hard as you might think.

First, get familiar with the language. For a great breakdown of content marketing, and how to approach it in your business, I would recommend The Sales Lion, Copyblogger and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).

joepulizzi

Take a look at my eBook and see what 25 successful entrepreneurs featured have to say.

Just get started and stop flushing ad dollars.

Step 7. Building a Community.

This is a mix of blogging, networking and social media. I could probably write a 3,500 word post on this topic alone, but I won’t.

What I will do is point you in the direction of several bloggers, each with an engaged community. Check out their posts and how they operate. Study how they approach social media and networking. Write a comment on their respective blogs.

Each of the following fine people have inspired me in their own way:
Gini Dietrich
Danny Brown
Adrienne Smith
Mark Schaefer

GiniDietrich

Step 8. What About Outsourcing?

Well, I believe strongly in what I wrote here about finding the best and brightest to delegate to. If you’re a solopreneur you have to do this. If you run a small business – say, under 20 employees – you also have to do this. It’s best to hire a professional, but you need to be involved with the project, and simply running through some of the initial steps in this post is how you initiate the process, correctly.

Find partners, freelancers, virtual assistants. People who are energized by the work that kills your spirit and your energy.

If you continually network and engage on social media, building a list of quality vendors is not that hard.

There’s a guy in the Philippines named Chris Ducker who crafts golden posts of goodness on this all the time. He owns a business built on delegation.

Heck, he just wrote a book  on this very topic.

Step 9. Strategy.

If you’re on linkedIn, learn how to use it. Most businesses underutilize this amazing B2B social network, and if you are selling to other businesses, this is the social network you should spend most of your time on. If you want to get busy on LinkedIn, start here.

Never look at Facebook the same again. Francisco Rosales knows a thing or two about this platform … If you want to dive into Facebook, look here.

Read the Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer.

Learn about long tail keywords and how to use them in posts and titles. Download my eBook, read what Marcus Sheridan has to say, then download his eBook. He’s been incredibly successful utilizing the power of content marketing in his pool business.

And see what influence marketing is all about.

Stephanie Sammons

Step 10. Develop a Mailing List.

In fact this might just be the most important tool for getting your message out there.

Create a brochure that resides on your site’s home page to serve several purposes: 1.) Grow your email list by giving viewers an incentive to sign-up; 2.) increase site traffic by giving away something they need; and 3.) establish thought leadership, encourage social sharing. Bloggers know how insanely valuable this is, but many businesses don’t.

I highly recommend Aweber.

That’s it! I wanted to create a complete post built for small businesses that want to dramatically improve their branding and online marketing. A guide that shows you how to plan it, brand it, build it … and then watch as your business grows. I hope it helps in some way. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

You don’t have to do these in order, but you should get started today.

Interested in learning more about my branding process? Jump on over to my email list

Click here for your own free copy of You Don’t Need Fans, You Need Customers.

Sign-up Today to Get Your FREE eBook.

I take your privacy very seriously

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Lahey April 3, 2014 at 9:13 am

What great advice, Craig! You know your stuff! I especially like the fact that you didn’t leave list building out – it’ so crucial to successful marketing.
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Craig McBreen April 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

Hi Stephen,

Thank you, Sir! Yes, list building is a must.

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Stephen Lahey April 6, 2014 at 5:15 pm
Craig McBreen April 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Of course! One of my favorites.

Reply

Ashley Faulkes April 7, 2014 at 7:13 am

Hey Craig
Great stuff my friend
This is the kind of stuff I am belatedly realizing I need to do. Some of it is ok, some of it I need to seriously work on. But it is all a learning process I find, and having to go through the lesson means you come out the other end better off for it, even if it hurts.
Thanks for the collection of useful info, I will be bookmarking and investigating as time allows.
have a good one
ashley
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Craig McBreen April 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hi Ashley,

Most useful lessons are a result of some sort of pain ;) I’m still learning as I go … we all are. Thanks for dropping in an cheers to your success!

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Adrienne April 7, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Wow Craig, that’s a killer post my friend.

Such great advice and so many resources as well to help them with every step of the way. Imagine my surprise to find my name on this list among some really top successful business owners here. I still really see myself as the little guy but thank you for that, I’m truly touched that you find what I share inspiring.

I wish I had had some type of guide like this when I was starting out. Although some of this at that time would have been over my head somewhat at least there are so many more resources today then I feel weren’t around back when I was starting. Maybe there just weren’t as many and their content wasn’t readily available. I know like a lot of people they were still in the process of building their business and it wasn’t until later that they moved into teaching or consulting.

I think this is one of those keeper posts myself and one that will definitely get shared. Awesome job Craig, awesome.

~Adrienne
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Craig McBreen April 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Hi Adrienne,

Thanks! Put in a few hours on this one ;)

Well you should be listed here, as you are one of the very best at building community online.

Appreciate the kind words and very happy you got some value from this puppy. Have a great week!

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Mike April 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

What a great post!

Love that you linked out to lots of follow on articles. Got to go through this post step by step. :)

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Craig McBreen April 7, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Hi Mike,

So glad you enjoyed … and hopefully got some actionable info.

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Mike April 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Great post.

Love the links out to all of the supporting articles. Makes it super easy to dig deep for more information.

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Jeevan Jacob John April 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Great List, Craig :)

For the most part, I have all of this covered…but they are far from perfect.

I still am working on tweaking some of these things – like strategy (I think strategy is one of those things that needs to evolve constantly. We should always try and experiment with our strategy).

Logo is something else I have been planning to work on. I am happy with my current one – simple, text based logo, so there is a high chance that I will just stay with it.

Anyways, thank you for sharing this, Craig :) Appreciate it!
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Craig McBreen April 8, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Hi Jeevan,

Thanks! And I agree with you on strategy … mine changes all the time, and you have to experiment to be successful.

Simple, text-based logos work fine. Often better than buying a $5 logo ;)

You’re most welcome, thanks for the visit.

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Philip Varghese Ariel May 3, 2014 at 7:25 am

Hi Craig,
I am here via Adrienne’s page.
She did a wonderful intro on
her regular Thankful Thursday.
Nice to meet you at this wonderful page.
In fact Its an Information Bank :-)
A good number of connected links etc.
I am bookmarking it for my further read
and study. Of course I am new in many of
the things mentioned here, though its aimed
and a business oriented one I am sure bloggers
of any trend can surely pick great lessons here.
Thank you ones again for this informative post.
Ha, Thanks Adrienne for the intro. :-)
Keep informed.
Have a wonderful and blessed weekend. :-)
~Philip
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Craig McBreen May 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Hi Philip,

Glad you made it over :) Adrienne is one of my favorite people online and it was kind of her to drop my name it that post. And yes, bloggers of any kind can learn a lesson or two from the people mentioned.

Really appreciate you stopping in. Thanks for the kind comments and hope you had a great weekend!

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Mark May 4, 2014 at 5:52 am

Wow Craig!

First of all let me say thanks! I bookmarked this page so I can refer to it frequently
and really study your incredibly powerful and helpful step by step content!

I’ve also definitely got to go back and re-read your ebook! There is so much here, you feel like your feasting at an all you can digest information buffet!LOL!

All your points were extremely helpful, but for me (going forward), I’ll concentrate initially on tips #’s 6 & 7!

And build and integrate from there. And thank you for supplying all of these resource links!!

As I study each of them (and I will!), I’m sure you’ve just provided me with at least 3-9 months worth powerful thought provoking blog and video content!

Thanks! And will definitely share this powerful content!
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Craig McBreen May 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Hi Mark,

You’re welcome, and so glad you found some value in this post. About 6 and 7, follow the community builders mentioned and you can’t go wrong.

Really appreciate you stopping in and thank you for the amazing comments :)

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