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How to build a brand: the ultimate guide

14 min read
Building a brand can help you to attract a wider, more loyal audience and increase your revenue. Read on for our ultimate guide to creating a successful brand identity.


Brand building is a vital step for connecting strongly with a target audience, both existing and new. A brand identity that’s strong will guide new customers to you, while also encouraging existing customers to come back to your products and services.

But how do you build a brand from scratch, and how do you make it successful? For an existing business, how do you strengthen your brand strategy and really reach your target audience?

This process is more than just establishing a brand’s visual identity. How your brand acts with its customers, the values it stands for, and the brand’s purpose are just some of the aspects you’ll need to define in the development process.

The following guide will help you to craft a strong brand identity that will be memorable and powerful, no matter which stage you’re at in your brand-building journey.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a well-established brand, ensuring you’re working towards a noteworthy brand is always a valuable process.

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Why should you build a brand?

As we’ve detailed before in our guide to brand equity, creating a brand identity can help to raise and improve product perception, increase your market share, and allow you to charge a price premium for what you sell.

It makes your brand more visible

On any day, a consumer is exposed to around 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages. The new digital world we live in means that brands are constantly being showcased to consumers – and standing out is vital to be properly seen.

A recognisable brand gives you an edge over other brands competing in your space. Make your brand stand out by defining your unique selling points, story and mission.

As leading marketing consultant Peter Field says, brand building is a sustainable competitive advantage, creating demand for products even when there’s no real difference between them and a competitor’s offering. After all, Coke, Pepsi and generic cola products can be very similar – but consumers have distinct preferences for which brands they buy from.

Pepsi vs Coca Cola

A trustworthy brand encourages more purchases

The brand building process helps your business to become more legitimate in the eyes of your customers. Around 46% of consumers would pay more to buy from brands they perceive as trustworthy, meaning they’re less likely to pay attention (and money) to a generic-seeming business’ products.

Defining your brand has financial benefits

When your brand is loosely defined, it’s less recognisable and more likely to fall by the wayside. A memorable brand that has a consistent look and feel across all interactions can actually increase its revenue by 33%. Investing in creating a solid brand identity can pay dividends.

How to build a successful brand: step-by-step

Below are suggested steps on how to build your brand from the ground up. However, all of these steps condense into three factors, commonly shown as the Golden Circle:

  • Why your brand and its offering exist
  • How you provide your offering to customers
  • What you’re providing

Ideally, you’re making it clear why your brand does what it does. Customers that feel an emotional connection to a brand are 52% more valuable than even highly satisfied customers. This means you need to show customers the why in every aspect of your brand.

You’re also making it clear how you interact with your target audience, and what they can expect from you.

Bearing these factors in mind, here are the steps to creating your brand:

1.   Establish your brand positioning

A brand’s position is where it sits in its target market. How is it different from its competitors? How will customers think of this brand? What markets will it target?

To start building your brand, you’ll first need to figure out:

  • What your target market is
  • Who your target audience will be
  • What demand there is for your specific brand’s offering
  • What difference there will be between your brand’s products and services and those of your direct and indirect competitors

You can establish these facts by using market research, listening tools, focus groups, customer interviews and more. Understanding your brand’s position – its unique niche in the market – will help you to later convince customers that your brand is different from others offering similar things.

Brand positioning tips include:

  • Create a brand positioning statement. A positioning statement can be helpful for you to refer to when creating other aspects of your business, such as your brand identity.
  • Figure out who your easiest customers will be to reach, as well as who your ideal customers will be.
  • Look at what makes the top-of-mind competitors successful. Why are they able to come to mind first when customers think of an item or service they need? Replicating this success for your own brand will be helped by a good understanding of their technique.
  • What are your customers interested in outside of your products and services? How do they express themselves, and where do they prefer to engage? The more detail you have on your target audience, the better.

2. Outline your brand mission

To help convince others of your value and to guide your brand’s journey, it’s helpful to pinpoint your brand mission. What change do you want to enact on the world?

A brand mission statement can help you to hone your brand purpose further that just an idea. What do you want to achieve with your brand? Why is it necessary that this brand is in the market now? A mission statement can help you to concisely summarise why your brand has come to be, and what your goals are for the future. This allows new audiences to immediately understand why your brand exists and its purpose.

Consider this brand mission tip:

  • Your brand mission statement can be short or long, but a concise version can help you to develop a quick “elevator pitch” to help you sell in your brand to others.

3. Tell your brand story

Whether you’re building a personal brand or a business identity, your brand story is very important. Customers will identify with the reasons why your brand exists, and make decisions based on the story you tell.

This story can be the reasons why your brand came to be, or the mission you’re trying to achieve. It might be about the people that make up your brand, or the people you’re helping by creating products and services. With 88% of consumers believing authenticity is a key factor when deciding which brands to support, an authentic story can be a powerful motivator to engage with your business.

Whatever your story, make it memorable and use elements of it across your social media posts, marketing campaign and more to attract business.

Tips on how to build a brand story include:

  • Great brand stories can help you to naturally create brand awareness. What’s unique about how your brand started? Are you a family brand, a socially conscious brand, a groundbreaking brand? Make sure your story stands out.
  • If you’re a small business owner, your brand story will likely be a decision factor for your customers. Why should your brand’s target audience choose you over a more well-known provider?
  • Make your story human. Customers aren’t interested in why you want to make profits – they want to know what drives you and why you care.

4. Define brand identity

A strong brand identity will be recognisable and make positive associations with the products and services that you sell.

This includes your brand’s logo. It helps to have a professional designer to work with when creating your brand logo, colour palette, imagery and more, as this will likely be how your target market picks out your brand from your competitors initially.

Brand identity steps should include:

  • Picking a brand logo that is simple, memorable and relevant if possible. This will help your target audience to understand who you are and what you do faster.
  • Establishing cohesion in your brand identity from the start. It will make creating assets for social media and other channels easier when you begin expanding your outreach.

5. Create your brand personality

Developing an emotional connection between your customers and your brand can help you to more easily sell products. Brand personalities – that is, how your brand appears to act and the values it demonstrates – can help to make your company more relatable.

Brand personality advice includes:

  • Decide on the tone of your brand personality. Are you relatable and friendly? Or are you authoritative and trustworthy?
  • Imagine your brand is a person. What personality traits would they have? How would your brand embody those traits?

6. Develop your brand voice

A unique brand voice will help you set your brand apart from the others in your target market. This aspect is tied closely to brand personality – if your brand is warm and funny, your brand voice should reflect that in all written and verbal communications.

Ideas for how to build a brand voice includes:

  • Do you have casual conversations with your customers, or are you more formal? Your brand voice should reflect what your company does and how it acts.
  • Again, imagine your brand is a person. How would they approach a conversation? What would they sound like? This vision exercise can help you to better craft a tone of voice you can use across every interaction a customer might have with you.

7. Establish your brand guidelines

To ensure that anyone in your company – and anyone who might join your business or use your company assets – maintains the standards that you’ve created, you’ll need brand guidelines.

A brand style guide is a good way of cementing the rules around how you present your brand to the world, and it’s something everyone can refer to when working on your brand. You can also create a tone of voice guide, employee handbook, and other useful documents to capture what your brand looks like and how it acts as a business.

Brand guideline tips include:

  • Make your guidelines easy to understand, so your team can quickly get to grips with how you want to present your brand to the world.

8. Define your brand image

More than just how your brand looks, your brand image is the outside perception of your brand. This can be influenced by positive or negative experiences customers have with your brand, press coverage, advertising campaign receptions and much more.

Sentiment scores

Try the following when deciding how to build a brand image:

  • Cultivate your brand image by showcasing what you do well. Customers have great feedback? Share that with the world.
  • Customers love knowing that brands care. Make sure you are building brand awareness for any charitable activities or acts of giving back that your company engages with.
  • Take a position on the issues that matter to your business. After all, 64% of global consumers say they’d buy from a brand or boycott it just because of its stance on a social or political topic.
  • Listen to what your customers are saying about you. Do you have positive reviews, or negative feedback? This will help you track your brand image over time.

How to build a brand successfully

Create a concrete association between your brand and its products

Your brand should be indelibly connected with the products it sells in the minds of your customers. When they think of a generic product – laptop, socks, hearing aids – they should think of your brand first. We all know Apple sells computers – this is because when we think of high-end laptops, we recall MacBooks and subsequently the Apple brand.

Develop an emotional connection

Emotion plays a huge part in decision making for customers, and it can greatly influence your revenue. Whether it’s through your brand identity, brand marketing strategy or even your company name, you should try and elicit a strong emotional response in your target audience.

Continually listen and improve

The feedback you receive should constantly contribute to your brand development. Closing the loop by listening to feedback from all sources and taking action should be integrated into your brand process. The best guidance for how to build a brand your customers will love will come from your audience themselves.

You should also remember that your customers are the ultimate brand ambassadors – make sure they’re shouting about the right things.

Successful brand building with Qualtrics

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