A book of brand guidelines under the text “How to Define Your Brand.”

Your Branding Is All Wrong: Here’s How to Define Your Brand

How well have you established your brand identity? What are your business’s core values? How do you define your brand personality? How detailed is your brand strategy?

If you don’t have good answers to those questions, you haven’t done enough to establish your brand. You may have a mission statement and some fonts picked out for marketing materials,  but that’s not enough for your brand to stand on its own two feet.

Having a strong brand is much more than having a good logo and being funny on social media platforms. Your brand’s visual identity is only one piece of the puzzle; putting most of your focus here is a mistake — until you’ve done your homework. 

Look at Nike or Apple, for example. These companies are juggernauts when it comes to brand recognition. Why is that? Because they understand how you develop and maintain a strong brand identity. They focus on brand story, brand image, and established brand guidelines.

Whether a personal brand, a small business, or a large company, a successful brand takes a lot of research and hard work. If you want to take your brand to the next level, you need to follow the steps to find your human truth, category truth, and brand truth.

The Misconceptions With Brand Building

A lot of people picture branding as your logo, catchy taglines, and Pantone colors. However, these aspects are the last parts of your brand that you should think about (literally, they are in the last steps).

You have so much more to worry about when building your brand: how do consumers perceive you, how do you appeal to them, how do you set your company apart from the competition, where are you positioned in the market, and so much more. None of these are new concepts, they just don’t get brought up enough when talking about brand management and building.

One of the most important things to remember is that your brand is not how you want to be perceived, it’s how your customers perceive you. You do not get to decide how the world views your company. What you do get to decide is how to best play into how you are being perceived — and build an effective, strong brand around that.

Human Truth

The human truth is all about people: specifically, your loyal customers. To have an effective brand, you need to understand your target audience. Without a customer base to appeal to, your brand is pointless.

Customer Research

You need to do thorough research on your target audience to understand your ideal customer persona (ICP). Begin brainstorming assumptions about who you believe your target consumers are. How do they think? What do they like and dislike? Use these assumptions to create questions you can ask about your customers.

Start with focus groups, interviews, surveys, and other forms of research on your customers to find out exactly who you need to focus on for your marketing strategy or rebrand. If you are post-launch, use existing customer data to form your conclusions. Customer research is the key to developing a brand that fosters customer loyalty.

By finding out the demographics, psychographics, habits, and pain points of your customers, you can easily generate the idea of your ideal customer — and now you know who you’re trying to appeal to.

Ideal Customer Persona 

Once your research is complete, you should have enough information to develop your ICPs. Create two or three personas, each unique but still fitting into the data you have collected. These ICPs are who you focus your messaging and overall marketing efforts toward. If done correctly, these personas represent your perfect, most loyal customers — and are the key to fostering brand loyalty.

Get as specific as you can. The more detail, the better you can cater to your target consumers. From where they live and what they do for fun to their greatest aspirations and greatest challenges, you want to develop more than just statistics like age, marital status, and gender, so you can speak to who they are and what they value. 

Category Truth

Category truth refers to the industry you operate in — and how you fit into that industry. This is when you turn to different aspects of market research: your competitors and your positioning.

Competitor Research

When doing your customer research, make sure to take into account direct competitors, indirect competitors, and competitive alternatives. When doing this research, build out competitor profiles to organize your thoughts and the data you collect about your competitors. This makes it easier to understand their positions in your industry.


Next, you need to understand your position in the market. Determine what your company is best at and what consumers recognize you for.

List out what is unique about your brand. What problem can you solve that no other competitor can? What is your value proposition? This is not just a pivotal part of your brand, but also your marketing campaigns going forward.

Brand Truth

Now that you know your target market and your position in the industry, you can determine your visual identity, brand voice, and brand message.

Who You Are

It’s best to start with your brand story. Knowing how and why your business arrived at this point is a great way for customers to gain an emotional attachment to you. Explain how you came up with your company name, your business’ brand values, the company’s mission, etc. These are all things that consumers can latch onto and make them feel connected to your brand.

What You Are Like

When you determine those aspects of your brand, move on to your brand personality, character, and brand voice. What does your brand sound like? How does your brand act? Make these decisions based on your target consumers and your positioning. Choose from a list of brand archetypes, and refer to some persona prompts: What motivates your brand? What are your strengths? How about weaknesses? Understanding your brand like a person is the key to having a powerful brand.

Visual Brand Elements

Finally, you can determine your brand design. Now you can create your logo, choose your color palette, typography, iconography, and anything else you need in your brand style guide

Choose your color scheme based on color psychology, and select colors that evoke the emotions you want your brand to evoke in consumers. 

It’s so much easier – and impactful – to determine these visual elements once you know who you are, who you’re talking to, and what they want from you.

Start Building Your Brands Better

If you want to have a big brand name, you need to build your brand more effectively — and that’s half the battle. With this breakdown, you should be well-equipped to build a strong and effective brand. When you’re looking at how to define your brand, don’t start with what people see, start with what they feel.