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Ignite X is a recognized, integrated marketing agency in Silicon Valley that delivers content marketing, executive branding, and public relations services.  

How to build a brand identity from scratch


Ignite X specializes in helping technology startups grow their market visibility and brand. We bring expertise, connections and tenacity to helping brands break through the noise. Here are some of the things we've learned along the way. 

How to build a brand identity from scratch

Carmen Hughes

Building a business is not for the weak. Hustle and strategic communication to your target market are must haves. But putting your brand on the map requires more than simply being able to articulate your value proposition in an elevator pitch. You need to know what you stand for and what voice to use to truly engage your customers and keep them coming back.

Everybody starts from ground zero, which means that your target audience will be cold. Why cold? Because they don’t know who you are. You need to warm them up, i.e. build a relationship with them. Inspire them to go from being a stranger to being a trustworthy brand with whom they want to do business.

Step one is making a first impression that instantly communicates what your company symbolizes. In this blog post we share a short exercise that you can use to start shaping your brand and make it unique.

First impressions matter.

Do a baseline assessment. As a small business owner or a startup founder, it can be tough to extract yourself from the day-to-day operations of growing your customer base and refining your business model. Take a step back and look at your business from your customer’s shoes. If you didn’t know anything about your brand, and simply found your business website in a Google search, what would your digital presence communicate to potential customers?

For example:

Ikea is affordable, stylish, helpful, and globally relevant. Volvo is safe, luxurious, expensive, and environmentally-conscious. Jason’s Deli is family-owned, healthy, casual, friendly. Gucci is elegant, indulgent, Italian, elite.

In today's ever-evolving market landscape, your potential customers are going to have a myriad of options. Why should they purchase from you? What does it feel like to interact with your brand? The answer to those questions are key to building a strong brand that can become profitable in the long-term. It’s going to take some introspection, brainstorming, and ongoing calibration.

So grab a stack of post-its and get ready to brainstorm.

Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers here. The goal is to gain a clear understanding of what makes your brand unique.

Brainstorm time

Look at your brand and think of adjectives that you’d use to describe your company.

For example: environmentally-conscious, social justice warrior, fun, bold, transparent, thoughtful, iterative, affordable, scholarly, casual.

Feel free to use a thesaurus here.

Write each word on a post-it and put it on a wall, so you can stand back and look at it. We encourage you to do this with your team, so you get a variety of perspectives. While you’re doing this, make sure to mentally separate your brand from the product(s) that you sell. Spend about 15 minutes writing down all the adjective that come to mind. Think about the colors, style, and promises that your brand makes to its customers. What does your brand stand for?

When you’re done, separate those into 2 piles. Pile one is going to be for the adjectives that feel right (the yes pile). Pile 2 is for the ones that don’t (the no pile).

When you’re done, you’ll notice that there are a few categories that you can sort these into: tone of voice, personality, presentation, and values.

Take the post-its from the yes pile and sort them into those 4 categories (tone of voice, personality, and presentation, and values). Then whittle them down so you have 2-3 words / post-its in each category. These remaining piles are going to be the foundation for future conversations.

The ultimate goal is to have a list of attributes that communicate what emotions your brand evokes, which will enable you to build your brand identity.

Okay now what? Stay tuned. In a future blog post, we’ll help you shine a light on how you can fine tune your brand identity and propel its growth.

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PS Need help working through this exercise? Call or email Ignite to schedule a consultation.