She Who Dares | How and why you should build an intentional brand

What is an intentional brand? 

By Amber Miller, Oohlala Studio

A close up of Welsh Brand Designer Amber Miller from Ooh La La Studio holding a mug which says 'Welsh Lady''
How and why you should build an intentional brand, by Amber Miller, Oohlala Studio.

What is an intentional brand? It’s a brand with meaning. A brand that has clear defined goals. At Oohlala Studio everything we do within a brand building exercise is intentional with those goals in mind.

I’m sure you know, it takes more than just a pretty aesthetic logo and a great product to unravel the purse strings these days. Every business has a story to tell, and yours is so important. The very fibres that hold it all together are what defines it. You need to stand out in the ever growing saturated market, but how do you do this?

>> By being intentional.

Intention will make the difference between a pretty visual identity and one that has traction to propel you and your business forward.

Amber Miller, of Oohlala Studio, in a blue dress sitting at a desk smiles at the camera

I get it. It’s so noisy out there, and there’s so many chances to dip into a comparison race. You have to know this there *is* a place for everyone, but only a select few will make a success of it. You need to dig deep, work out the driver behind the intent of your business and then tell your own story. Of course beautifully, but with meaning. 

Having a clear vision and clear goal of a destination is paramount when it comes to making your business and brand a success. A brand has a direct impact on your commercial success. We need to weave the intent and purpose of your business throughout everything you do, creating an intentional brand that brings you and your audience joy at every touchpoint.

Most of us, when we think about branding, we will envisage all of the visual representation of a brand. But the most important part is the part we can’t see or touch. Humans have a visual memory; we remember things by what they look like. When we think about memories, people, or places, images usually come to mind. The same is true for your business. The visual, tangible aspects of your brand give your audience images to remember your business and associate with it. But before we do that we must remember, a brand is more than just a logo. To succeed, your business needs your visual representation to be built on strategy to help resonate with them on an emotional level. 

Take a second to think about your favourite shops. The way they market products, their tone of voice, how they appeal to a certain demographic and type of person. Your brand should be interwoven into every aspect of your business. It involves the entire client experience, from what they see the moment they land on your website to how you portray yourself and speak on social media. It’s time to really hone in on the strategy behind your brand to create a business that really speaks to your customers individually.

Brand Designer Amber Miller from Oohlala Studio stands drawing at a white wall, working on a branding project

How do we create an intentional brand?

Now, brand foundations are something that should be considered before a business name is even chosen. But many people skip this step in a race to get set up. We need to be intentional in all of our decisions. 

If you’re at a point where you feel that business has come to a crossroads, here are some things to consider to get clarity in your brand intention. 

1. Defining your audience 

Defining who your ideal client is is a step that should not be missed when building your brand. Once you know exactly who your ideal client is, everything becomes a whole lot easier. In identifying who it is that you want to work with, you can tailor your products and/ or services to meet their needs and you will be able to market to them a whole lot easier. It’s important to be specific when building a brand. You can’t please everyone and you shouldn’t be trying to. 

You need to know exactly who you’re selling to or serving, their likes and dislikes, and how they think about things. A lot of this will come later and go much deeper in your marketing strategies, but you need at least a basic idea of it to help shape your brand into the best experience possible for your audience. Your audience cannot be ‘everyone’. No brand strategy will speak to ‘everyone’ at once. To make the biggest impact, start narrow and specific, and you can widen out your focus later.

2. Competitor Research

This step is so often overlooked and it’s something that forms a vital part of your USP. Competitor research needs to be approached objectively and not from an ego-led perspective. Create a spreadsheet and list out 5 competitors. 

Look at different sections of their business and rate them on a scale of 1-10. From their visual identity, tone of voice, communicating their values, customer experience, customer engagement, reviews, social media presence, website functionality etc.

You should then be able to see gaps in where these competitors are lacking – from a strategic perspective we need to focus on these gaps and see if there’s a place here that we can flourish and get ahead of the competition.

Amber Miller from Oohlala Studio drinks from a bottle and a straw at a table, with flowers to the left and a bubble light above her

3. Your Vision

Take 10 – 15 minutes to really dig deep into your vision. Mind map it, write a paragraph, make bullet points of important parts – however you best understand it is the way to go! 

Some questions to consider:

  • What do you want to be doing?
  • What does your working day look like?
  • Who do you want to help, how do you plan to help them, and why?
  • What’s your passion in this game? What’s in it for you?
  • Imagine your business in 10-15 years time – what does it look and feel like?

4. Your Values

Values in branding allow us to have a code of the thinking and behaviour in business that resonates with what you believe in. It allows you to create purposeful content that aligns with your beliefs and often plays a role in the design of your visual brand elements. Take 5 minutes, grab a piece of paper and brainstorm some of the values you hold in your personal life. After the 5 minutes is up, circle your top three values. These will form the basis of your business values.

Spend another 5 minutes thinking of some of the values you would like to hold in your business. Some might be the same as your personal values or they might not feel aligned. Never compromise on values that are SUPER important to you!

Oohlala Studio's Amber Miller holds a grey notebook while working on a client branding project

5. Create a strong visual presence

Your visual identity system should be distinct and memorable. It should reflect your brand values and messaging, and appeal to your target audience. As I mentioned earlier the visual, tangible aspects of your brand give your audience images to remember your business and associate with it so make sure these align. 

If you want to delve a little deeper, you can grab my free brand roadmap workbook here where I take you through some of the key foundational building blocks that I take my clients through when we’re building an intentional brand.

 

Amber Miller is the founder of Oohlala Studio. With over a decade of experience she has become creative partner to over 100 female founders, supporting them through their journey of intentional brand and website design. She turns an emerging business into a captivating, change-making brand.

I have worked with Amber since the very beginning of both of our businesses! She has a great eye for design and a brain for brand! If you are considering refreshing your brand, or are in the early days of launching your brand, and would like my help in creating custom imagery and/or films to support your brand, please get in touch for a chat. I’d love to hear more about your business adventure!

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