Building a brand for your business is similar to building a product. Having a robust online software doesn't necessarily translate into a successful product. Your product's success depends on people using it, your teams growing it, and your marketing distributing it. Brand building follows the same steps.
After you have defined your brand, the critical next steps are to execute and distribute. All the brand information can be found beautifully laid out in the file "Brand_guidelines_2023.pdf", but it is buried somewhere on the server that only the senior members of the team know. No matter how small or large your team is, organising your brand assets in a way everyone enjoys can be challenging.
Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room
— Jeff Bezos, founder, executive chairman, and former president and CEO of Amazon
A brand is built inside the head and heart of your customers, so it is essential that everyone in the company shares the same belief and communicates with the audience as one. Luckily, just like how your product can help hundreds of thousands of people, there are also plenty of tools to help you build your brand online.
Here are a few tools to help guide, create, and distribute content that helps you build a brand at scale with a strong focus on collaboration and accessibility.
A brand strategy typically starts with a purpose, a vision, and a mission. This will help guide all of your branding and marketing decisions (often also affecting business and product decisions.) It's important for employees to be aware of this, and to lace it into all of the customer-facing experiences.
These tools will help you clarify your brand strategy and make it easy for the rest of the company to understand it.
It is important for a business to "start with why", as Simon Sinek explains. "Why" is the purpose of what you do beyond earning money. When you have a clear purpose for what you do, it has the magnetic power to attract people to you beyond earning money. In his presentation, Simon uses many examples of brands and businesses to describe how they affect consumers in practice. Watch it on on Youtube.
If you want to dive deeper into it, Start with Why is also one of the long-time bestseller book. Buy it on Amazon.
By the folks who created the Business Model Canvas, they have also developed a Value Proposition Canvas that can help you emulate the emotions and thinking process of your target market. By doing so, you will be able to bring so much value to your customers that they cannot ignore you.
Brand building is a long-term process, but you can start defining your brand in as little as three hours by following GV Brand Sprint. The framework was developed by Jake Knapp, author of Sprint, the industry standard for product design process. In Jake's Medium post, he describes the reasons and steps he took to carry out a brand sprint.
As a result of the sprint, you would create a 'Super Simple Brand Guide'. Rather than being a fluffy idea dressed in trendy fonts and colours, your brand will become a living organism that serves a purpose, has a personality, and is able to win friends and influence people. Check out the GV Brand sprint.
Miro has a ready made template so you and your team can jump right on it.
This branding kit was created by Fatihguner, the founder of Turkey's largest creator community. Using Notion, the user is guided through 12 steps of exercises to help them understand what their brand means to them.
You'll find plenty of examples in the kit, as well as writing prompts to help you word your brand. If brand strategy sounds like a beast too big to handle, this kit breaks it down into bite-sized chunks for you.
Many people define branding in terms of how a brand looks. There's much more to a brand than just the visuals, but the visuals are the first thing people notice about a brand. When you visit a website that looks like it came out of a baby shark music video, you won't trust it as professional software.
Your brand visual is the picture frame for all your communications. Use it correctly and the message will be multiplied and the emotions will be amplified. Here are some tools that will help you build more branded visuals for internal and external communications:
When it comes to creating visuals for online marketing, Canva is THE tool to use. In terms of branding, its most valuable feature is not its never-ending catalog of design assets, but its ability to set up brand assets libraries, collaborate with anyone using a browser, and be so simple anyone can use it.
As Canva grows, it adds new features as well. You can build presentations, landing pages, create videos, design T-shirts, and even run workshops with a whiteboard.
Once you have setup the brand assets within Canva, you’ll never have to ask (or be asked) what the brand's colour HEX codes are, or where to find the high-res logo.
Adobe is the godfather of design software, so it should come as no surprise that Adobe Express has an impressive collection of stock photos, fonts, and designs. In terms of design functionality, it is very similar to Canva, but it lacks the capability to collaborate on the fly.
You can get Adobe Express Premium for free if you are already a member of Adobe Creative Cloud.
A first of its kind to incorporate AI-generated images using DALL-E 2 in the design process. Instead of digging through Microsoft Designer image libraries to find the image you want, you'll be asked to describe the image you want using words. In the next step, after you've selected the image you'd like to use, you'll have the opportunity to describe what kind of design you'd like.
In my opinion, the generated image isn't quite there yet, and the design generated is quite dull. It is, however, an exciting start for imagining a new workflow involving more thinking and letting AI take over more tasks.
It's common for SaaS companies to give presentations. It's like wearing a well-made outfit when you present a well-made presentation, whether it's a pitch deck for raising funds or a webinar for your target audience.
Pitch has a library full of templates that are clean, considered and created for professionals. Your designer or agency can set up branded templates based on their library, so anyone on your team can present clearly and confidently.
Figma is the go-to design tool for most designers working in SaaS companies, whether they work on products or marketing. Hence, it makes sense to build a library of branded assets right where the design is created.
The use of design systems are common among product teams, but marketers are beginning to realize the power of its speed and consistency. This post from Webflow shows how the design system can benefit the marketing team.
Cabana Design System is one of many design systems available. As a designer, I use this as a base system and build upon it for clients since it strikes a great balance between product and marketing (since most design systems are built with product teams in mind, and it is too complicated for marketing teams).
We know that words are capable of telling stories, evoking emotions, and uniting people. Having many voices in a brand's communications can, however, result in confusion and disconnection between the brand and its target audience.
The other side of the coin is that a unified voice can help convey a consistent, recognisable verbal identity and help your audience understand your brand.
Prepare messaging frameworks and templates for your team to help them speak from the same page. Here are a few tools to help you build a framework of what to say and how to say it.
Copywriters craft words in a way that sparks imagination and desire, and the whole team should have easy access to this library of words. By having online brand guidelines, brand messaging can be organised in an orderly manner, which helps team members get into character faster.
Here is a great example of Skillshare’s brand copy guidelines to inspire you to build your own→
Motto is a global strategic branding agency that has worked with innovative businesses since 2005. Apart from being a service agency, Motto also shares knowledge through publishing and speaking engagements.
This Motto Branding Workbook Bundle contains 4 workbooks that walk you through guided exercises to build your brand. Check out their full description →
Designed for brand owners and operators, not agencies, this easy-to-follow guide explains what a brand messaging framework is, who can benefit from it, and gives you the right questions for creating your own messaging framework.
A free messaging framework template is also available at the end of the guide, which you might find useful if you're trying to organize your brand messaging.
Unlike your typical free course offered by another SaaS, this B2B messaging course is designed to dive deep into the meaning behind effective messaging, in addition to how you can craft better messages for your B2B company.
Whether you are a hands-on marketer or work closely with copywriters, this video course series accompanied by the workbook will level up your communication with customers. Workbook download link is located at the end of the page.
While everyone is going gaga over ChatGPT, many AI writing platforms have also developed their own versions based on GPT4. Both produce similar outputs, but I feel that copy.ai puts a bit more effort into their user interfaces to make managing content easier.
The main reason I recommend copy.ai over ChatGPT is because you can build a custom fine-tuning model based on your brand guidelines using the "infobase". Rather than incorporating brand values, personality, and tone of voice into prompts, they are stored as wordsmithing guidelines.
P.S. This post is written by the humble human named Jolene Chang, and edited with the help of copy.ai.
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The best way to keep a brand consistent is to keep all its assets in one place that can be accessed and managed easily. The brand guidelines PDF file that once lay dormant on the server can now be everything everywhere all at once on the internet.
A good digital brand guideline platform will allow users to access the guide from any device, categorize the guide as per the different components of the brand, and provide assets for copying or downloading.
These are the 5 platforms we have found to satisfy all of the above.
Standards.site has set the standards for online brand guidelines. Designed with brand professionals in mind, the platform has all the building blocks needed to create brand guidelines online.
Also, it is one of the cheapest options at only $10 per month. With less than the cost of lunch today (thanks to inflation), you can make your brand guidelines accessible to anyone on your team..
Please note that at the time of writing, guidelines on Standards do not handle mobile screen sizes well. Although the page loads fine, much of the content does not stack well and text appears small.
Keeping track of all the resources is a heck of a job when you are working with multi-regional brands and assets. The Frontify platform is designed to act as an all-in-one brand management tool, including brand guidelines, digital asset management, and even branded templates.
Having a well-organized brand makes it easier for anyone in your team to be your brand ambassador. In addition, Frontify offers the most integrations I have seen in a brand guidelines platform, which alllows your team members to work directly in their familiar softwares.
Brands can be very simple or highly complex. Lingo is a digital assets management platform that grows and adapts to an expanding brand. With version control, file tagging, permission setting and analytics, this platform can work just as hard as your brand team.
Although brand guidelines are not as visually appealing as those above, they can be grouped logically, and presented clearly.
Why not use Notion to create a digital brand guideline and brand resource center if your team already uses it? Of all the platforms mentioned here, Notion is surely the most flexible platform, but it also has a much steeper learning curve.
Instead of having ready-made systems optimized for brand management, you'll need to design and customize Notion to host your brand. However, there are many brand guidelines and digital asset management templates available for purchase online, and it might make more sense to stick with the platform you already use.
A beautifully designed platform designed to help agencies and studios deliver a living brand to their clients. Corebook is the most expensive option out of all, it costs $99 just to keep the brand guideline live on the platform. It is also the most accessible brand guideline, being responsive to all screen sizes.
Corebook provides a workspace for agencies to build better brand guidelines online. Their software allows for close collaboration between strategists, copywriters, and designers from the agency. Each brand guideline can be presented in the way that is most appropriate to it, and not be limited to a specific template.
There you have it, our top 18 tools to utilise that can help you build a stronger and more consistent brand experience online. With the help of data, analytics, and CRM software, you can further adapt your brand to meet the needs of your customers.
If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you. - Zig Zaglar
Keep the brand alive and may your business thrive!
Building a brand for your business is crucial for its success as it helps to establish a unique identity and reputation in the market. A strong brand can differentiate your business from competitors and attract loyal customers. It also helps to build trust and credibility with your audience, making it easier to introduce new products or services. Brand building is a long-term process that requires a clear purpose, vision, and mission, which can guide all of your branding and marketing decisions.
There are several tools available to help with brand strategy and execution. Some of these include:
Canva is a tool for creating visuals for online marketing. Its most valuable feature for branding is its ability to set up brand assets libraries, collaborate with anyone using a browser, and be so simple anyone can use it. Once you have set up the brand assets within Canva, you’ll never have to ask (or be asked) what the brand's color HEX codes are, or where to find the high-res logo.
Cabana Design System is a design system for Figma that can help with creating branded visuals. Figma is the go-to design tool for most designers working in SaaS companies, whether they work on products or marketing. Hence, it makes sense to build a library of branded assets right where the design is created. Cabana Design System is one of many design systems available. As a designer, it can be used as a base system and built upon for clients since it strikes a great balance between product and marketing (since most design systems are built with product teams in mind, and it is too complicated for marketing teams).
The Brand Messaging Framework is a free guide designed for brand owners and operators to explain what a brand messaging framework is, who can benefit from it, and give the right questions for creating your own messaging framework. A free messaging framework template is also available at the end of the guide, which you might find useful if you're trying to organize your brand messaging.
Copy.ai is an AI writing platform that can help with creating consistent and on-brand messaging. You can build a custom fine-tuning model based on your brand guidelines using the "infobase". Rather than incorporating brand values, personality, and tone of voice into prompts, they are stored as wordsmithing guidelines. This can help ensure that all messaging is consistent and on-brand.
A digital brand guideline platform is a tool that allows users to access and manage a brand's assets in one place, making it easier to ensure consistency across all communications. It is important because having all assets in one place can help ensure that everyone on the team is using the same messaging and visual elements, which can help create a stronger and more consistent brand experience.
There are several digital brand guideline platforms available, including Standards, Frontify, Lingo, Notion, and Corebook. Each platform has its own unique features and pricing, so it is important to evaluate them based on your brand's specific needs and budget.
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Branding sells what you stand for, marketing sells what you offer. Different but equally vital.