The Four Red Light Factors For Your Business Brand
By Erin Feree

Where I live, there are 4 traffic lights
between my house and the main road.
So, before I can really get on my way in any journey, I usually have to stop, no matter
where I'm going. Some days, I even have to stop and wait at all four lights. All this
stopping and waiting gets tiresome—but it pays off by getting me safely to my

Branding your business can be a lot like these traffic lights.

There are certain things you must decide before you can really get started on the fun
part—drawing your logo and designing your marketing materials. Frustrating, but
making these decisions is a necessary part of making sure that you will create your
brand correctly.

Making decisions about the four following Brand Definition factors does make you
stop and wait a bit but ensures that you proceed through the branding process safely
and create a brand that will help your business to reach its goals safely and

Red Light 1: Who You Are

You need to know what your business's personality is, and how it is different from
your personality. Which is always a tough question for a very small business of one or
two people to answer. Ask yourself which pieces of your personality get shown to
your clients and which you reserve for friends and family.

Also, you have to know why you're in that particular business. Is it because of your
expertise or a feeling that you get from working with your customers? What are you
trying to create for your customers? For yourself?

If you're clear of your personality and your motivation in your business, then you will
be able to be clear when communicating that to your audience.

Red Light 2: What You Do

You can't create your brand until you know what types of services or products you'll
be offering. What do you do for your clients?

You also need to know what formats you're offering those in. Are you doing
consulting services, offering group trainings, or selling online products or a product
that needs to go on the shelf? You may be selling several of those options, and if that's
the case, is there one format that you'll concentrate on over the rest? Marketing online
products is often a very different project than marketing consulting services, so
knowing what you're selling can help inform your brand.

Red Light 3: What Makes You Different

In order to figure this one out, you have to first look at who your competition is. And
"I don't have any" isn't a valid answer—that's a very idealistic way to look at things!

You may think that what you do is utterly unique, but your clients don't see it that
way. They're always going to be doing research on a few different ways to solve
whatever problem they're having—so while you might think that you're unparalleled,
that's rarely the case in your clients' eyes (unless they've come to you on a very strong

So, you have to find your competitors—or at least those companies that your clients
have you quote against—and then figure out what their Brand Definitions are and how
your business is different.

Red Light 4: Who You Can Best Help

To create your brand, you have to know who will be looking at it. Once you know who
your audience is, you can take the first 3 red lights and write and design expressly to
communicate those factors to that specific audience.

This is another area where entrepreneurs are a bit idealistic and like to say "But,
everyone's my target audience!" While that's a nice thought, if you try to create a brand
and marketing materials that will appeal to everyone, you'll wind up with bland
materials that won't really work for anyone.

Think about the clients that you've had the best results with—and the best relationship
with. You want to work with clients who you can really help and who are easy to work
with as well.

Now, this process may be hard for people who are just starting their businesses to go
through, but that doesn't mean that you can run through these red lights in order to
create your brand. Instead, consider just creating some temporary materials until you
have at least 6 months to a year in business to look back on to see what habits you've
established and how your business really turns out.

Even though waiting to figure out these red lights may be frustrating, it will pay off by
building a brand that will get your business to its goals safely and comfortably. Once
you've turned all of these red lights to green by answering these questions, you're
ready to move on to the "fun" part of designing your brand—drawing your logo and
marketing materials.

About the author: Erin Ferree is a brand identity designer who creates big visibility for small
businesses. As the owner of elf design, Erin is passionate about helping her clients stand out in
front of their competition and attract more clients. Her "
Define Your Difference Branding
Workbook" will help you with your brand definition - the most important step in the logo design

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