The 5 Questions That Will Shape Your Brand

The 5 Questions That Will Shape Your Brand

Before you start to build your beauty brand, you must have a clear idea of what you want to communicate to potential customers so that you can implement design choices accordingly.

In the end, you want a brand that conveys your values, brand story, and unique approach to customers. 

To do this right, you need to ask the right questions.

So, here are the 5 key questions you must ask to gain clarity on your brand before you start on any design work or written copy. All of your fonts, colors, images, and language are part of your brand identity, and should be aimed at speaking directly to your target market.

Which is why the first question is …

Who is your target market?

Why it matters

The best brands are customer-focused, so it’s important to start here. Yes, your brand should represent the core values you want it to stand for, but a beauty brand won’t last long without customers. So, it’s critical that your brand connects with your target market. These are your ideal customers, the people who will love what you do and buy your products. So make sure your brand speaks to them. You want to make it easy for your ideal customers to find you and become loyal fans of your brand.

How to answer

There are lots of different aspects to consider when fleshing out the “personas” behind your target market. Here are a few of them:

  1. Demographics and Psychographics. Demographics describe who people are (think age, income, educational background, health, etc.). Psychographics include less tangible things like values, habits, and hobbies. Get as deeply into the lifestyle of your ideal customers as you can. (More on this in #3.)
  2. Identify Current Customers. If you already have customers, do they represent people who you think will continue purchasing your beauty products? If they do, you can use them as examples to help define or personify your market niche. You can interview them individually or even survey them as a group to get valuable information about their online habits and shopping patterns.
  3. Create an Ideal Customer Avatar. This is also known as a persona. Basically, it means taking everything you learned in #1 and #2, and fleshing that information out into a fictional person who represents an ideal customer for your beauty brand. Make sure they have a name, and get specific about them. Use Google image search to find a picture of them. They should have an age, gender, backstory, income, and marital status. Decide why this person wants to buy your products. And then, go deep. What do they worry about, and what do they long for? The more thoroughly you understand your ideal customer, the better your marketing will be.

What’s your story?

Why it matters

Every strong beauty brand has a compelling story behind it. And this story isn’t just about you—it’s about your customers, too. It lets them tell a story about who they are when they buy your products. Your customers shouldn’t just think, I need lip gloss, so I’m buying some. With a strong story, they can think, I’m buying THIS lip gloss because I want to support the ideas and values it represents. In other words, your story makes your brand more relatable and more human.

How to answer

Think about when you decided to start your beauty business in the first place? What was your inspiration? What problem were you looking to solve? Often, we create a brand because we simply can’t find the products that we want to buy. If the current offerings weren’t meeting your needs, so you created a beauty brand to fill the gap, that’s a great story.

Write down as much as you can remember, and use as much detail as possible. (The best stories are rich in detail.) Then, share your story with a friend or family member. Let them ask you questions about anything you share. This will show you where you need to flesh your brand story out further.

What are your values?

Why it matters

More and more, consumers of beauty brands—especially millennials—are buying the values behind your brand more than they are buying the brand itself. They want to feel connected to the meaning behind the brand so they can feel good about their purchase. If you aren’t clear on your values, your customers won’t be, either. If you are, you can generate exponentially more momentum around your beauty brand. People will be drawn not just to your products but to what they represent, and they’ll tell their friends.

How to answer

First, list the core values you want to express in your brand. This list from James Clear is a good place to start, though you can certainly add anything that isn’t on there. Go through and write down all of the values that stand out to you. You may end up with a long list, and that’s okay. Once you’ve picked several, go back through and narrow it down. Do this as many times as you need, until you end up with a list of just 3-5 values for your beauty brand. If you choose more than 5, the values will cease to mean as much, and some of your message will get lost.

How can you narrow it down? For each word you pull out of the list, ask yourself: 

  • Is this value truly one of the most important for me? 
  • If it is, WHY is it important? 
  • What actions can I take in my business to embody this value?

If you don’t have a good answer to all three questions, it’s probably not a good core value for you. Move onto the next.

What makes your beauty brand unique?

Why it matters

Whatever product(s) you’re creating, you’ll have plenty of competition. In order to stand out, and explain to customers why they should buy your products instead of someone else’s, you need to know exactly what sets you apart.

How to answer

Do your competitive research. When you’ve identified your closest competitors, look at their businesses and analyze their weaknesses. Ask yourself, What gaps does my beauty brand fill? What services or benefits do I provide that they don’t?

This could be an emphasis on the aesthetic of your packaging, or a focus on acne-prone skin, or a high-end product at a mid-range price.

Whatever makes your beauty brand unique, you should be able to define exactly what it is in a succinct way, so you can communicate that to the market.

What’s your brand’s personality?

Why it matters

Luke Sullivan, author of the marketing book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, writes, “People don’t have time to figure out what your brand stands for. It is up to you to make your brand stand for something. The way to do it is to make your brand stand for one thing. Brand = adjective.”

What this basically means is that the personality of your beauty brand should be distinctive and easy to name. Think of your closest friends, and the single adjective that would best describe each of them. You might come up with words like, “smart,” “funny,” “talkative,” “sensitive,” etc. Your brand should be the same way, with a defining characteristic you can name. It helps personalize your brand, and makes it stand out in a “noisy” marketplace.

How to answer

A good exercise to get you started in identifying brand personality is to choose some beauty brands that you love as a consumer, and try to put a single word to their overarching personality or mood. This should come through in their ads, commercials, blog posts, packaging … everywhere they have a presence. How do these brands make you feel? 

To use cars as an example, this Subaru commercial feels family-friendly and nostalgic, while this Mercedes commercial feels modern and advanced. Taglines are also a good indicator of the dominant tone of a brand. Subaru’s tagline is: “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.” You can pick up that same nostalgic, familial vibe from the tagline as you do from the commercial. Mercedes’ tagline is “The best or nothing,” which fits with the high-tech, quality-oriented mood of the commercial.

Now, think about how you want your beauty brand to appear to your ideal customers. Ask yourself: How do I want people to feel when they see or use my brand?

Summary

Answering these 5 questions should make you feel more clear on your brand identity as it’s taking shape, so you can connect as strongly as possible with your target audience. Of course, these are just the basics, and there are many more advanced questions you can ask to get even deeper into your beauty brand’s identity and its impact on your design. I work with brands every day to make them unforgettable to their customers, and if you’re interested in a consultation, I’d love to connect with you.

Want to learn more?

For a start-to-finish look at more on how to build and grow your beauty business, check out our course, Learn How to Launch a Beauty Product. We cover every aspect of starting a beauty business, from creating a solid foundation and getting funding to manufacturing, branding, sales, and marketing. This guided approach keeps you on track and makes the process feel less overwhelming. To learn more about turning your product ideas into reality, sign up for our newsletters and read more about the course here.

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