How to Build Your Brand Around the First 3 Seconds

5 Steps to Design a Brand that Converts Potential Customers

We’ve discussed previously how customer’s initially find your business and why customer’s decide to buy your product in the first 3-7 seconds of interaction. So now let’s give some practical steps on how to take advantage of that information.
What can we do to help our business grab those potential customers? Here’s a step-by-step guide on designing or redesigning a business’s brand with FMOT and ZMOT in mind.

Step 1: Focus on your Target Audience

Most new businesses skip this step – it’s easy to just stop here and say “We want to be everything to everyone – the 1 stop shop for our industry.” And that’s not a bad strategy for giant corporations, but most business who take this approach try to do too much at once and fail to deliver anything well for their clients.

Remember, we have 3-7 seconds to sell a customer that you are an expert at meeting their needs – with an incredibly broad message you won’t be able to tailor to the needs your customer is looking for.
Narrow your focus to your core product or service first, understand the value you provide over your competitors there, then work outward to your other products and services to grow your marketing from there.
With a focus your core product or service, try to think about who your target audience would be. Here’s a few brief examples of target audiences:

  • single moms who work from home
  • tech-savvy early adopters
  • college students studying abroad
  • executive recruiting professionals

The key is to get specific. If possible we want to determine the lifestyle and habits of our target audience – ideally, we want to know how they think.
Then, we are able to think of our brand from our potential customer’s perspective, and design a brand your future customers can relate to. By identifying the target audience and narrowing our marketing focus on it, we can focus all of our advertising and sales efforts on the people who are more likely to spend money with us.

Step 2: Research Competitors

Here’s the fun part – spying on the competition. You need to know what your competitors are doing right, doing wrong, and why you are the better choice for your ideal customer.
Take some time to study these other companies on several metrics:

After looking at 2-4 competitors, compare what they are doing with what you want to do. See how you can improve on what they are doing currently, and craft a mission statement based on how you can stand out.
Make sure to never completely mimic one of your competitors – being too close to an existing brand will not help you to realize your goal: to stand out from the competition. If another business copies you, it’s typically a sign you are doing something right and there isn’t a need to change your branding.

Step 3: What Makes You Different?

Craft your mission statement with a focus on what you learned from Step 2 – how can you meet your target audiences needs in ways your competition doesn’t.
Realize a long list of features that your customers’ receive from your product or service isn’t the goal here – we need to focus on what makes you different from your competitors. Think about the value you provide your customers that helps improve their lives.
Here are a few examples:

  • More authentic and transparent customer service
  • A better way to support productivity
  • Reducing costs with a more affordable option
  • Saving time on daily tasks

If you are really struggling, take some time to read through these 30 ways to stand out from the competition.

Step 4: Write Your Elevator Pitch

So, our next step is to create a short, impactful pitch we could deliver to a potential customer quickly. We call this an elevator pitch because it should fit into the timeframe of riding an elevator with someone.
By now you know who you are selling to, how your competitors sell to them, and what makes you different from those competitors.
With that information, let’s try to just answer these 4 main questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. Why does it matter?
  3. Why do you do it?
  4. What’s next?

So, as they mentioned on The Muse, start with a short, descriptive explanation of what you do, like “I’m a writer for the technical products division of Acme Company,” and then take it a step further and think about how your work affects others. Perhaps it’s “I help translate technical specifications into easy-to-follow instructions that anyone can understand at home.”
Then start adding in your reasons for doing it – “I love being able to distill something complex and full of jargon into simple, clear steps.” Then, add on what’s next: “I apply this expertise to many companies and help improve understanding of technology around the world.”
Now, try speaking this out loud. This needs to be shorter than 2 minutes in length total, ideally being around 30 seconds to 1 minute in length.

Step 5: Design around the Elevator Pitch

With all of this information you can easily set goals for your brand design. At this point you know:

  • Who needs your product and why they need it.
  • How your competitors reach these people and how your message will differ from them.
  • Exactly why you are a better choice for that type of customer.

Your brand design & marketing can now center around those aspects – meeting your customers where they are, grabbing their attention for the right reasons, and setting expectations for your customers based on your elevator pitch.
Let’s say you run a pet grooming service – this can be marketed as:

Luxury, Relaxing Spa

Focus on Premium Service

Fast and Friendly Pitstop

Focused on Animal Shelters or High Volume

Traveling Clinic

Focus on Mobility and In-Home Care

… or any number of other potential markets. Which one you choose will depend on your target audience, your elevator pitch, and all of the information we discovered above.
Some practical points to keep track of here:

  • Make sure your design is consistent throughout all of your platforms e.g. website, social, email signature, brochures, business cards etc.
  • Try to use only a few colors in your palette – at least keeping the primary brand colors to around 3 is ideal.
  • Only display the work that you want to attract in your portfolio.
  • Display your reviews proudly and often. Try to include head shots in your testimonials, this makes them more real.


With these steps you will quickly set yourself up for success moving forward. Check out our blog for more information on branding for business.

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