4 steps to building a dog brand people remember

Dog panting

Building a compelling, memorable and meaningful brand for your dog walking business doesn’t need to be complex or expensive, all it requires is a little thought and bit of time.

When I speak to most people about branding, more often than not, they think about design. But it’s so much more than that. 

Your brand reflects who you are, your principles and the emotions people link to your business

It’s what sets your business apart from the competition and in many cases it what gives potential customers the confidence to pick up the phone to you.

How do you create a brand for your dog walking business?

Branding can often become overwhelming and it’s something many startups obsess over (trust me, I’ve been there). 

So today I’m going to keep it simple.

I want you to get set up with the basics, get organised and then move on with the other important parts of your business. From then on, review your brand every few months and allow it to evolve as and when you see fit. 

Let’s go!

Step 1: Your brand story

So before you start brainstorming names or opening up Illustrator on your computer, I want you to think about your brand story. 

What I hear you say?!

I like to think about your brand story as how you would describe your dog walking business to a complete stranger. Particularly focussing on why people should care and what makes you different.

So for Smart Dog Business it would be something like…

SmartDogBusiness.com is a place for new or existing dog walking business owners to learn how to launch and grow their pet business. We give people concise, practical advice in a fun and supportive environment so they can accelerate their business with confidence.

Sidenote: it’s important to have a good understanding of your target customer when you go through this expercise. If you’ve not done so already, head over to my How to market your dog walking business post where I help you figure it all out. 

So let’s get stuck in. Grab a notepad and start writing your brand story in a few lines. Try to answer these questions as you write:

  • What services do you offer?
  • Who are you targetting?
  • What makes you different and unique?
  • Why should people care about you?

Like all things, I like to keep it simple. So keep it short and make sure you can read it aloud in 30 seconds to a minute.

That’s it! Step one complete.

Step 2: Choosing the right business name

Now let’s think about the name of your business! Woohoo… the exciting bit!

I’m sure you’ve already had a ton of ideas, which is great.

Before we kick off the brainstorming process there are a few things to remember when deciding on a strong business name:

  • We want the name to be strong, professional and positive – avoid cutesy terms as this makes you seem amateur.
  • It needs to be easy to say and spell
  • It should be memorable and not too long
  • Avoid fads, cliches or local slang
  • Make sure the name works with you new brand story
  • Consider if the name will appeal to your target audience

Now let’s grab a pen and start brainstorming.

You want to come up with at least 30-50 names to start.

Although that sounds like a lot, going through the process will help you decide what you do and don’t like.

If you’re struggling with ideas, Namelix.com is a really good tool for inspiration.

Once you’ve got your list, narrow it down to your favourite 3-5 names. If you’re struggling make sure you review the list of questions above and rate each business name against each question. This will help you objectively eliminate any names that don’t quite hit the mark.

Now you’ve narrowed it down, mention your selected names to friends and family. Then a few days later ask them which names they remember. If one stands out then that is a good indication it’s memorable.

Lastly, before you select your final name you’ll want to make sure that you can get a domain name and social media profiles that match your brand name as close as possible.

That’s your business name sorted. Great work… now on to your brand identity.

Step 3: Brand identity – your colour palette and logo

As with your business name you’ll want your identity to be memorable, reflect your USPs and stand out from others in your local market.

Colour palette

First up, let’s pull together a cohesive colour palette that can be used across your brand from website to logo and leaflets to t-shirts. 

Keeping to a small selection of colours gives your brand consistency and a strong professional edge.

Pick a strong main colour for your brand that will work across lots of different mediums and isn’t too similar to any of the local competition. Then pick a couple of complimentary colours that work alongside the main colour.

If you’re not too confident picking a selection of colours that work well together then try https://coolors.co/. It’s an awesome tool to help you explore your ideal brand colour palette and is perfect for inspiration.

Logo 

Like all the previous sections it’s important to consider what your target customer will like but also what fits with your brand story and new colour palette. 

If you can afford it I’d strongly recommend getting a freelance graphic designer involved as it will really help you build a compelling, professional brand. Typically speaking this will cost from hundreds to thousands of pounds.

If this isn’t an option for you when you’re starting out then you can look at online marketplaces to find a more affordable designer. Great places to try are:

These services let you write up a brief and get designers to pitch for your job. In the case of 99Designs, designers from around the world will design a logo for you before you pay, then you pick the one you like best.

Tip: Make sure you share your brand story and write a clear brief as this will help make sure you get what you want and avoid expensive revisions down the line.

If you want to do it yourself or you’re looking for a completely free option then I’d suggest Canva or grabbing a free trial with Adobe Illustrator. 

Illustrator will require some upfront training if you’ve not used it before, but Canva is a super simple online tool with loads of tutorials to help you along the way and great if you’re a beginner.

When doing it yourself, spend some time getting inspiration from other designs you like. Dribble and Pinterest are both good tools to find inspiration and collect ideas. 

From here mockup a few ideas and get feedback from others in your industry. Try to remain critical and choose a design that stands out from others in your local dog walking market. 

Step 4: Getting organised

Now we’ve got your key brand assets finalised, I want to talk about keeping everything organised.

It may sound boring but consider this…

You’re out walking your pack and a local media outlet gets in touch because they want to run a profile piece on your business but they want a few high quality images and a copy of your logo to finish off the article. 

If you have everything saved logically in one place (ideally on cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox) you can easily share a link to the relevant assets and be on your way.

The alternative is a frantic rush home and search of your laptop to discover everything you need. 

Core files you should have to hand and organised are:

  • Logo in various file formats (jpg, png, pdfs, eps) and multiple sizes
  • Colour palette with details of the colour references in CMYK and HEX. If colour references sound like a foreign language check out this quick explainer.
  • Key copy – such as your brand story, information about you and how you got started
  • Fonts – keep all your font files in one place
  • Key images – make sure you have both high res images for print press and low res versions for online.

And that’s it! Four simple steps to build a memorable brand and make sure everything is organised so you can market your business with confidence.

Got a question? Drop a comment below. I’d love to know your thoughts.

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