Are you stuck with your business because you can’t seem to get the branding done? Do you feel like the branding you have doesn’t reflect who you are or what your business is really about? Or maybe you bought a cheap logo, but it just doesn’t feel right, or something is missing.

Maybe after buying a logo, you realized that you will need much more designed assets than just the logo. But don’t quite know what to do. Or how to make everything look like they belong to the same brand. And you don’t have the budget to hire a full on branding agency right now. Or you just can’t bare the thought of paying thousands of dollars for it.

Every successful visual identity (logo, brand guidelines, brand and marketing assets) started with thorough background work of establishing the brand’s foundation. I like to call this the “Brand DNA.” You can make a pretty logo and visual identity without the Brand DNA, but it won’t be successful in attracting your ideal audience or representing your business accurately.

If you’ve taken any courses in content marketing, you might be familiar with the rule that your ad has to accurately match the content you’re advertising. Otherwise your audience will click the ad, but immediately bounce off from your content, because it didn’t meet their expectations. Branding is the same thing. If you’re brand doesn’t accurately reflect your business, it’s values, and what it stands for, you audience will “bounce off” without buying.

This is also true for when you hire a professional designer to work on your visual identity. If the outcome doesn’t reflect your business, then either the designer didn’t have clarity on your Brand DNA or it’s always possible you just hired a bad designer.

I should emphasize that no one can read your mind. It is not enough that you know in your head what your brand should be like. You’re going to have to put it on a paper, so you can brief your designer. Or have it as a reminder for yourself when you’re building your brand.

For this purpose (to use as a reminder for yourself, or add as an attachment for a design brief that you give to a designer), I’ve created the Brand DNA poster. It has a place for each of your brand’s foundational piece that you — or your designer will use — when creating the visual identity. And ultimately, your brand’s visual identity has to reflect these foundational pieces to be successful.

I’ve worked in branding agencies, and they typically have brand strategists to work on these elements with the customer. The brand strategists have special expertise to draft these pieces, but all the information they need typically comes from the customer. Sometimes the customer will hire the agency to do some market research and competitive analysis. But still the major part of the foundational information would come from the customer. That’s you. You’re “the customer.” You already have all the info, so why not start the foundational work today?

In addition to the Brand DNA poster, I’ve created worksheets for two brand foundation pieces: your “why” and your target audience. These fillable pdf worksheets will help you get your branding work started so your don’t have to feel stuck anymore. More worksheets will be coming in near future, but you gotta get these one done first. There’s a method in the madness.

Download the Brand DNA poster and worksheets here.

And for the perfectionists out there I’m gonna say: done is better than perfect. You can always go back and tweak it later, but start today and get something on paper. A perfect brand in your head helps no one and lest of all your business. But a great brand out there communicating to your audience has a good shot at success.

And finally I want to tell you that you are not alone. I am just an email away. So, let me know if you have any questions!