Creating a solid brand equates to a memorable image, simple & straight forward mission, and a truly innovative & flexible structure to stand the test of time! Assisting in establishing brands for a number of companies and advising dozens of start-ups on brand development, as well as establishing many companies in my portfolio, I’ve seen lots of things work and other things fail. Time and time again it comes down to a few core pieces to help your brand toward success.

1. Figure out your brand Why. 
You need to spend time trying to figure out WHY your brand exists, or else it will be really hard to build a brand without that. Going beyond “what” you build and “how” you do it, will get you to the heart of the why. This will act as the foundation for your brand. It’s something you can return to, and it will direct you during the most important brand decisions you’ll inevitably be faced with.

2. Move on to elaborate your brand Story.
The broader view of your brand, is your brand story, and it should absolutely be documented and utilized as a common reference for all team members. This can signify who you are, what you offer, how you differentiate in market and why you are special. This should bring out emotion but include all the assets a traditional SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis. This can be a forceful task, so you have to think through, how would you talk about your brand when explaining it. From your brand story will come some amazing one-liners you can leverage in press, bios and advertisements.

3. Establish the brand Identify.
Many people believe this happens organically, but the more intention you can give this matter, the better off your company will be. Your brand identify will change over the years, but when you are first starting out, if you align your founding team and yourself with an established identity everything else will lign up smoothly. Your identity includes the visual elements of your brand. This is everything from communications, to logo, to colors and fonts, among other components.

4. Allow for room to Grow.
Its important to keep in mind brand coherence, but good to not get stuck on brand consistency. If you focus too much on “staying on brand” you won’t allow it room to grow. Especially early on your brand will likely start to take on a life of its own — or at least you should hope so! If people start sharing and connecting with your brand, they might use it in ways you hadn’t planned. They might suggest catchy hash-tags for you. That stifles the brand and takes away the very essence that breeds true innovation.

5. A brand is created not defined.
Don’t be tricked by common knowledge, you do not “define” your brand. You build it, you ship it, you help it grow and participate in how it is received. But you do not “define” it. The best brands in the world take on their own life. A brand may include aspects like your logo, colors, voice and story, but they also end up including a markets reaction, your customers, a greater philosophy, among other things. Great brands end up representing a perspective larger than one company.

I hope this has been a useful list to keep in mind when you are creating your first brand. I am excited to create more long lasting brands and look forward to hearing about what brands you create!?