Interview with Jacob Cass: How to build your own brand step by step?

How to build your own brand step by step? What if the budget is tight? Why does an entrepreneur need a personal brand? With these questions, we turned to Jacob Cass, the founder of the JUST Creative branding agency.

Over the past 15 years, Jacob has worked with many high-profile brands including Nike, Disney, Nintendo, created a popular design blog, and became Yahoo! ‘s “Best Brand Coach to Follow in 2020”.

Branding begins with a goal, idea, and message that the business wants to convey to the audience. How to define them? How to find your uniqueness and your voice? What questions should you ask yourself?

The fundamental questions of strategic branding come down to answering who you are, what you do, and why it matters. You need to know your brand’s substance, what it stands for, how you’re going to position yourself in the market, what makes you different and how you wish to express that to your target audience. To define this, you need to uncover your “brand’s truth” and this is surfaced via workshops where you and the team dig deep into what the brand really stands for – its values, its differences and the reason WHY they are in business, apart from making money. You have to work inside-out when it comes to building a brand that matters.

What to do after the idea is born? What are the next stages of branding?

After you’ve established your brand’s substance (purpose, mission, vision, and values) you can move into your positioning strategy which looks at your customer, your competitors and your overall point of difference. From there you move into your brand’s expression; what its personality and voice is, plus how to communicate this through your messaging & storytelling framework, as well as your name, tagline and hooks. After defining all of this, you move into your visual expression, which includes your logo, colours, fonts and overall brand identity system, plus any other collateral your brand may need to move into the market.

How to convey the character of a brand using logo, colors, and fonts? What are the nuances to consider?

An understanding of core design principles plays a huge role in successfully conveying the right meaning. Every typeface conveys a personality and every colour has connotations that have evolved through culture and time. It’s the understanding of these nuances, meanings and semiotics that plays a critical role in creating a brand that evokes the personality, tone and feeling that you’re setting out to achieve.

Microbusiness often does not have the financial and human resources to fully engage in marketing: website, social networks, and advertising. Is it possible to choose only one promotional channel? Which one do you consider the most important to gain audience loyalty?

If you have limited resources, the fact is that you will be forced to focus and that can actually be a blessing in disguise. Know where your ideal clients are the most and start there. Focus all your efforts into one platform or channel and then diverge from there. Loyalty can come from any channel if the brand connects on an emotional level with the customer.

Your career has been also developing thanks to your personal brand: blogs and social media accounts. How important is a personal brand for someone starting a business? Does everyone need it? How to start developing your personal brand?

Everyone has a personal brand, whether they know it or not. We do not own our brand. Our brand is shaped in the minds of our customers, friends and peers but we have to do our best to craft the right perception. For this reason, it is vital that you pay attention to everything you say, do and do not do, as this shapes your personal brand. For those starting with this journey, define your goals first. Ask yourself, what do I want to be known for? 

You have worked with top brands: Nike, Disney, Nintendo and others. What do you think small businesses should learn from them?

Branding principles of the top brands can be applied to smaller brands as well, just at a smaller scale. We can learn many great things (and some not so great too) from the top brands of the world. Purpose, authenticity, connection, emotional storytelling and creating value are some key aspects we need to incorporate into our own brands.

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