Here’s the ultimate branding checklist for creative professionals starting their own small business.
The Ultimate Branding Checklist is available to download below so you can print out and work on building your professional brand. Check your inbox after you signed up to download the free checklist. Here are a list of resources to help you start crossing items off your list.
Print The Ultimate Branding Checklist
A full list of everything you need to establish a professional brand for your business.
This post was originally published August 8, 2016. Updated August 30, 2019.
1. Brand Mission
⚪ Write your mission statement. Identifying why you serve your audience every day is going to help you stay on track in your business. Do some business soul-searching and figure out what the core mission of your business is. Don’t try to do what everyone else is doing because your efforts to make your brand stand out won’t make a difference if they are not authentic. A clear mission will keep you going.
2. Brand Story:
⚪ Share your journey. Go behind the scenes of your business. Go back to the beginning and share how you got started. Share moments of your business that you know will connect your audience and serve them in a new way.
3. Brand Balance:
⚪ Decide how you will show up professionally and personally. Find a balance of the professional side of your business and the personal side of what it takes to actually run your business. Social media is a great way to share the not-so-glamorous side of your business. Sharing personal sides to your business at a professional level is a great way to interact with your audience on a deeper level.
4. Brand Values:
⚪ Determine what you believe as a business. Setting core values will communicate what you believe as a business and how your company works together toward your shared vision. Always stay true to the values of your business, and be really clear on what you stand for as a business and brand.
5. Brand Boundaries:
⚪ Write opportunities that you will say yes and no to. Creating boundaries for your business will help you learn when to say no to something that doesn’t align with your brand. It’s important that you continue to differentiate yourself in your industry and saying yes to everything might dull your impact.
6. Brand Message:
⚪ Identify your core offering and write your brand message. Identify your core service and sharpen the language used in your content to help visitors relate to your brand. With the right brand messaging you can inspire them, persuade them, motivate them, and ultimately turn them into genuine customers or clients.
7. Brand Language:
⚪ Write a list of words that sound like your brand. Brand language is how you communicate with your audience. Your brand should communicate a clear message that your ideal audience can easily understand and relate to. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Every brand voice is unique and will attract people who will resonate with you.
8. Brand Personality:
⚪ Identify your brand’s characteristics. Giving your brand a persona will help you gain clarity when building out the rest of your brand. Your brand personality should reflect a positive character and attract an audience that can authentically connect and relate to you.
9. Brand Keywords:
⚪ List your brand keywords for SEO. Make a list of keywords that you can use throughout your copy, file names, headings, descriptions, etc. This will take your Google Ranking to the next level. These words are what your brand identifies with the most and how your audience will ultimately discover you.
10. Business Niche:
⚪ Specify your industry and expertise. Narrowing down your business to one specific niche will keep help you stay ahead of the game in your industry. Not only will you become the expert, but you will also have a clear focus when researching, creating products, and marketing your target audience.
11. Target Audience:
⚪ Identify your ideal customer or client. Getting a clear understanding of who your target audience is and what they need from you will allow you to better serve them. Find out what their biggest struggles are and which platforms they’re primarily most active so you can discover the best way to connect with them.
⚪ Connect and engage with a community that inspires you. Engaging with your audience and building genuine relationships is crucial for your brand’s success. Take time to respond to comments on social media and blog posts. Join groups and comment on threads where you can offer a little bit of value. Make friends with complete strangers on the Internet.
⚪ Identify and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Identify the competitors in your industry and identify what makes you different. Learning from your competitors is also a great way to stay ahead of the game, but don’t get too distracted looking into someone else’s lane.
14. Mood Board:
⚪ Create your mood board. A mood board is a collection of imagery that reflects your brand. Think of this as your north star and reference this mood board to get a quick, clear vision of your brand’s aesthetic and feel.
15. Logo Design:
⚪ Design your logo or hire a designer. Many different elements make up your brand, and your logo is only one of them. Keep your logo clean and concise using no more than 3 fonts and 3 colors. Simplicity is ALWAYS best. Hiring a professional designer will save you time, and ultimately money, and the results will be worth it. Designing it yourself or purchasing a pre-made logo may not be the best option if you’re looking to take your brand to the next level. A creative, designer-quality logo will help guide the vision of your brand.
16. Brand Fonts:
⚪ Purchase your font licenses. Fonts come in all different personalities, so it’s important to select fonts that stay true to you. Explore endless fonts and choose your typography to set the tone for your brand. Select two or three fonts to purchase, and use them consistently throughout your website, social media graphics and other branding materials.
17. Brand Colors:
⚪ Choose your color palette. Colors have an effect on how you make your audience feel. Your brand should reflect a specific style and make your audience feel a certain way. Choose a color palette that plays to the emotions and supports the personality you want to portray.
18. Website Theme:
⚪ Design your own theme. You need a beautiful, professional platform that will help turn leads into genuine customers or clients. Your website is one of your biggest assets and can either make or break a business. Depending on your budget and experience, you should invest in a web designer to create a completely custom website or purchase a theme and build it yourself.
⚪ Organize your office. Find or design a space that inspires you and your brand! Whether you have a desk in the corner of your closet, an office room or full-on building, make sure you are letting it be known that this is your space. This is where the creative magic happens, so you want to pour your heart and branding into it as much as possible.
20. Brand Signature:
⚪ Style your email signature. Update your email signature with your new profile photos, logo and a call to action. Sending regular emails will be much more effective in establishing trust and driving traffic to your website or recent post.
21. Website Hosting + Domain:
⚪ Purchase and set up your hosting plan and custom domain. Secure the URL for your business website. Owning your own branded domain will establish credibility for your business. A domain and hosting plan is mandatory to get your website up and running.
22. Business Email:
⚪ Set up your inbox. Create a business email to keep track of all your business-related messages. Organize a separate inbox for special inquiries, support requests or team members.
23. Business Cards:
⚪ Design and order your business cards. Handing out your business card is a great form of marketing. Attend social events and connect with as many people as possible. Keep them on hand always – you never know who you might run into one day. An effective business card design always has a clear call to action.
24. Brand Photography:
⚪ Curate a photo collection. Hire a professional photographer to take brand photos or search for commercial-free stock photos online. Having a collection of photos that relate to your branding will help you stay consistent as you expand your brand across all mediums. This is perfect for establishing an Instagram theme, adding photos to your website or using them in your marketing graphic. Great photography will help take your brand to the next level.
25. Professional Headshots:
⚪ Take your headshots and update your profile photos. Use a professional headshot to identify the face behind your brand. This photo is virtually anywhere you have an account online. On social media, this is what people look at to see if you’re a real person. Photos of yourself will humanize your brand.
26. Website Content:
⚪ Outline your pages and write your content. Your website content is one of those things that might take the longest. Remember to keep things simple. If you have the budget for it, hire a professional copywriter and invite them to your Asana project so they have a clear understanding on your brand direction.
27. Blog Posts:
⚪ Strategize your post content and create a blogging schedule. Determine what types of posts you’ll write and how often you will publish new posts. Start off with as many as you can realistically handle and then gradually adjust your schedule depending on your time and audience’s expectation. A blog strategy sets the pace for your brand letting your audience know when they can expect to see new content from you.
⚪ Create an email list and freebie offer. Choose a newsletter provider to start collecting email addresses for your blog or business. An email list is a direct channel to your audience where you have full permission to promote your business and stay connected. Create a a newsletter template that fits your brand.
29. Social Media:
⚪ Choose your social media platform(s) and create a strategy Social media is an effective tool for your brand strategy. Lock in your social media profiles and work on growing a following of genuine people for your business. Your platforms of choice should be where your audience appears the most. The more you show up, the more likely you’ll get noticed.
About The Designer
Hi, I'm Britt! I'm a branding + website designer based in Austin, Texas. I help creative professionals grow their personal brand online.
Friends don't let friends have bad websites. Let's be friends.