Brand Identity

9 Ways to Build a Brand That Will Grow With You

Here are the nine simple steps I use with my clients to help them build a brand that will grow with their business.
It’s no coincidence that some of the most profitable businesses in our world also have the most recognizable brands. Think LEGO, Nike, Starbucks and Google — all internationally recognized brands that have had a lasting impact on their consumers.

They’ve all succeeded at keeping their consumers’ attention over the years while offering more or less the same products and services. A difficult feat even for the most established businesses!

But there’s one thing these brands have done differently that sets them apart from the rest? They’ve continued to evolve and grow their brand with their business.

Starbucks has adapted its iconic green logo more than six times since opening in 1971.

Whereas Nike continues to evolve its tagline to be inclusive of all athletes and all bodies to reflect its ever-growing wide target audience.

These are examples of brands that have stayed timeless even as our world has changed. And your brand can do the same. Promise!

Here are the nine simple steps I use with my clients to help them build a brand that will grow with their business.

Group of people looking at laptop
Your brand strategy and brand positioning should be a team effort.

Step 1: Have a Brand Strategy

Think of your brand strategy as a blueprint. You wouldn’t start building a new home without a detailed blueprint, right? Same with your brand. Your brand strategy is the blueprint for how you want the world to see your business.

Your brand strategy should authentically communicate your values, purpose and story. It will also set you up for future success as you can reference back to it as your business evolves and grows. Your brand strategy keeps your brand consistent as your business evolves.

Bobo app logo in various colours
The flexibility of the Bobo brand.

Step 2: Design Flexibility Into The Brand

Brand flexibility is a huge consideration for myself and the team here at Little Ghost Creative. It’s a key component we consider with every brand identity we create.

A flexible brand means the visual components of your brand (logo, icons, colour scheme) can be easily adapted to reflect your business needs as they change.

Brand flexibility will support your business as you add/change your products and services, reach new audiences, create content, design packaging…the list goes on and on!

With a flexible brand, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time your business grows. Instead, you use your brand’s base design system to inform new design applications you can use.

Visual of Liz Choi and her instagram grid
Liz Choi's goal was to inspire others.

Step 3: Identify and Design for Future Business Goals

Hand in hand with building a flexible brand is ensuring your brand identity can support future business goals.

At Little Ghost, any brand we build is also built for the future. For example, I’ll add in secondary and tertiary brand colours that won’t necessarily be used from the get-go but can easily be pulled as the business grows.

Take product packaging — many of my clients start by offering one or two products when they first launch their business. As the business grows, so does their line of products. So when the time comes, I can quickly design new packaging by using some of those secondary colours I’ve already set aside. The same goes for businesses that launch sub-brands or new divisions of the company. With a dedicated set of secondary or tertiary brand colours, it’s easy to design for future business goals.

4 Blade Air business cards on a blue background
The Blade brand was built to be simple yet scaleable.

Step 4: Design a Scalable Brand Identity System

Along the same line of flexibility and brand extension is building a brand that can scale.

Everything from colours and imagery, to patterns and typography should be considered when you’re thinking about scalability. You want your brand identity to be able to change and adapt with various applications.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA for short) is a great example of a brand that is required to scale often as new exhibits open, seasons change or social commentary on art evolves.

Here’s a fantastic case study showcasing how the MoMA identity scaled for a new gallery space in 2019.

It’s also key to note — sometimes you may need to add new design elements to your brand identity system in order to scale for different applications. Don’t fear! This is all part of business growth and signifies what you’re doing is working.

Purple beanie
Consider your how to brand future products, services or apparel lines.

Step 5: Be Intentional With Your Brand Architecture

Your brand architecture is the structure of sub-brands, products, product lines or internal employee branding within your business.

With a new business, brand architecture might not be something you’ve put much thought into yet. And that’s totally okay! But to have a brand that can grow with your business, you should consider or at least have a rough idea of what your future brand architecture might look like.

I did a lot of brand architecture work during my time directing the design team at SkipTheDishes. Here’s an example of the hierarchy we developed using colour.

Skip’s primary brand colour was red, which we used for all identity work, national campaigns, etc..But when it came to any brand assets for the couriers who delivered food, we used a dark blue as the primary brand colour. On top of that, we had a third primary brand colour, light blue, that was used for any branded items for internal employees, like swipe cards, stickers and swag items.

This is just one example of how having an intentional brand architecture will not only ensure brand consistency, but ensure your brand can grow with your business.

Tea Curious logo on exterior sign
Dream of opening a store? Design for it now.

Step 6: Expect That The Brand Will Change and Grow

Behind every successful business is a dream. So build your brand so it is designed for your future dreams!

That may sound a little fluffy and trivial (I know, I know), but anticipating that your business will change and grow is key to being prepared when it actually does.

Consider building out a colour system for any future sub-brands your business might eventually grow to have. Or think about developing a pattern treatment that can be adapted for various types of product packaging.

If you only design for what your business is now it might mean you’ll have to invest in a rebrand sooner when you do grow, which takes time and resources. Instead, design now and your future self will thank you!

Longhouse Cannabis Company Brand Guidelines
My favourite part of any brand: Brand Identity Guidelines.

Step 7: Create Brand Identity Guidelines

Consider your brand identity guidelines as the user manual for how your brand should be used in a range of applications both internally and externally. I can’t stress enough how important brand identity guidelines are for now and the future of your business!

You should know your brand guidelines inside and out, better than anyone else! Plus, share them with your team as well as any vendors or partners who need to use your brand to ensure consistency in all applications.

Here’s what Lindsay from Beeproject Apiaries had to say about how a simple set of guidelines helped their business grow:

“Your work with us in the last almost four years has brought us a brand cohesiveness that has allowed us to build commitment with our clients. It elevates our level of professionalism.”
Lindsay Nikkel, Bee Project Apiaries

What makes brand identity guidelines so important for the future of your business is that they can be used as a reference point for where your identity began as well as be updated with any new design elements as your brand evolves.

Team collaborating around laptop
Your team is your best asset.

Step 8: Train Your Team and Stand Up For Your Brand

What goes hand-in-hand with creating brand identity guidelines? Ensuring you and your team know them like the back of your hand. Truly!

Brand training is a critical component to the long-term success of any business…especially a growing one. The truth is, if you and your team can’t speak to and stand up for your brand then it only exists as a set of guidelines.

So train yourself and your team to connect to your brand in all ways — from your visuals to your values. If your team can confidently speak about your brand, they’ll have no problem understanding how it needs to adapt as your business grows and changes.

Seeds Canada website
Launching a website can take time, a roll-out strategy can help.

Step 9:  Have a Brand Launch Strategy

A brand launch shouldn’t be treated as another task you check off the to-do list. It’s a strategic step in the branding process.

Outlining a brand launch strategy ensures you don’t miss anything when introducing your brand to the world. It also helps build brand awareness and some hype around your launch. All important things in a brand roll-out!

With a brand launch strategy, you can identify what elements of your brand you might want to hold off on launching until your business reaches key milestones.

For example, you might be building an app you plan to launch once your website reaches 1 million monthly users.

Having a detailed roll-out strategy will help you know:

  1. How exactly to launch that app
  2. What marketing assets you’ll need to promote it
  3. What new brand elements the app will need

All this to say, a brand roll-out strategy eliminates the guesswork. So as your business reaches each new phase of growth, you can reference your roll-out strategy and have a clear path of what should be launched next.

Be sure to read my post 3 Strategies For Launching Your Brand This Year to understand the various ways I approach brand roll-outs.

Happy couple business owners on front step
Don't worry, you got this.
For your business to have a lasting impact it needs to be bigger than what you’re selling.

This is one of my fav quotes I like to share with clients (and now you!) that shows the impact of a purposeful brand.

It’s no coincidence that the most profitable businesses in our world also have the most recognizable brands. My vision is to see conscious business owners empowered to transform the world for the better.

So let’s make sure your brand is built to grow with your business. Use these nine simple steps when you're developing your brand and I’m confident you’ll have no problem evolving your brand with your business.

I’d love to hear about what you’re working on. Every groundbreaking idea has to start somewhere, what’s yours?