When you first start your brand – you are going to want to spend some time and reflect on your perfect customer. Who are they? Where do they shop for clothing? What restaurants do they frequent? What are the colors that they associate with? Do they want the work done as quick as possible, or do they want it done right – no matter the cost?
Each of these factors should be gathered onto a sheet of paper – and saved, so that you can go back to it for reference during this chapter.
The concept of ‘Mood-boarding’ has helped companies realize what their ideal customer would like to see from your brand. Gather logos that you like, gather colors you think would work well, gather pictures and images from the internet that match what you think your customers need. If you are struggling with colors for your brand – take a visit to your local home improvement store, and grab some paint swatch samples. Mix and match the colors, holding different shades next to each other until you find a combination that is both attractive and matches what your potential customer may be looking for in your industry. If you are unable to find two (or more) colors that match well, you can grab a catalog (also by the paint swatches) in the home improvement store. They have color combinations that match well for interior/exteriors of our homes – which will help you to build a combination that will work for your research needs.
Below is an example of a well-done moodboard. You can see that they’ve gathered some images from online, and together, they work really well together – establishing the ‘mood’ of the company, which will help with your marketing efforts in the future.
During the Mood-boarding stage, take care to not ‘echo’ another brand too closely – as the result might backfire. Just because Starbucks uses green and white cups, recycled materials, wood (comfortable) interiors for their coffee shops, and portrays an eco-friendly lifestyle – your masonry company might not see the benefit of those same efforts. “Hey, it worked for them – why not me?”
The reason behind this is a lot more complex that I’d like to cover in this book, but the result of copying another brand – is that you could end up having to alter your brand if the popularity of that brand fades, or tastes change… and tastes do change quickly. Overnight, brands have become black-listed due to indirect reasons such as: controversy, news, recalls, etc. If your brand so closely echoes another, it can be difficult to retain your own separate image. If you go your own route – and develop your own brand, the results will be more catered to YOUR perfect customer – and will be a much more rewarding experience. (Note: As I explained earlier in this chapter, there are ways to exploit the issues with much larger brands to differentiate between yourself and the ‘big dogs’ – but when you are developing your brand, stand out as the company who can do what the big company couldn’t. Take pride in your flexibility, but whatever you do – don’t try to slide right in next to a major brand and try to ride with them. There isn’t a ‘draft’ alongside a major brand… instead, you’ll likely be hit with a lawsuit, or at least a cease and desist letter – especially if your brand too closely follows another’s: logo, colors, fonts, style, etc.)
Take a half hour once per week and capture some of these efforts by your competitors – the colors of their logos/websites, graphics on their vehicles, business cards designs, uniforms, the overall message they are trying to deliver, their motto or tagline – and work with those details to distinguish your company from the others. If you can stand out as your own brand, unique from the competition – while capturing the style that is desired by your potential customers, you’re on the right track!
Gather all these scrap papers, pictures, printouts, paint swatches, etc. – and put them in an envelope and write ‘Mood-board’ on the outside, and place somewhere relatively easy to access. If you’re more computer savvy, use a program like Microsoft Word to paste your ideas into – and save them as “Mood-board” for reference later in this book. If you are artistic, and a bit crafty – try doing this stage as a physical board. Get a sheet of foam board from an office supply store, and start sticking your company influences to the board itself.