If you want to build a respected online business, branding is non negotiable.
It changes your business from a commodity — like everything else on the market — to a unique offering, only provided by you.
Thankfully, there are a TON of tools that can help businesses develop unique, instantly recognizable brands.
But how do you make sure you’re taking advantage of every potential growth tool out there to ensure your brand reaches its full potential?
Quick answer: You don’t.
You try a ton of different tools. You see what works best, and then you double down on it. If a tool doesn’t work for you, move on and try something else.
It’s not about using all the tools. But rather, using the most effective tools for your unique business.
But even if you don’t plan to use all the branding tools out there, it’s helpful to know what your options are.
That’s why we’ve listed 73 of the best branding tools in different categories below.
Start with one from each category and measure the results. Once you’ve found the branding tools that work best, double-down on them!
NOTE: I’m going to start with some of our essential branding tools. These are a necessary prerequisite to building your brand. So, start with those first, then pick and choose the rest. 🙂
So without further ado, here are 73 of the best branding tools for your business.
Another note: this post contains affiliate links so we get a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase a tool with our link. But we assure you, we’d recommend these products regardless because of their quality.
Essential Brand Development Tools
Use these tools to begin to build your brand identity
1. Craft a Brand Story (where the hero is the customer)
We can’t claim this one. Donald Miller wrote an incredible system around it.
Basically, you want to make sure your brand messaging crafts a story around your customer.
They’re the hero, and your brand is the guide.
It’s a counter-intuitive way to think about branding, but it will certainly help you stand out as you focus on your brand’s benefit to the customer.
2. Niche down with a Target Market Intensive
We use the empathy map template (originally created for user experience) for this.
As a brand development tool, the empathy map stands out, because it allows you to find your customer’s biggest pain and identify how you can solve it.
3. Craft a brand strategy
We use our brand strategy template for this.
One key to getting this right is putting specific deadlines on your growth initiatives, so you give yourself a distinct timeline to try something, and then a specific date to measure the results.
Brand Identity Tools
Use these tools to expand your brand recognition
1. Write a Book
I know, this is easier said than done.
And, if you’re like me, you’re terrified of putting another crappy business book on the market.
The key to avoiding this fate is actually taking the time to think through your book. Don’t just word-vomit on a page, self-publish it, and call it a day.
Instead, spend real time thinking through the book. Share it with friends. Get their honest feedback.
And publish it only when you’re happy with what you’ve created. Then use your book as a business card. Give it away.
Sell it at speaking events. Try to get amazing endorsements on it. You want this to establish you as an expert in your target market, so spend time to make sure it actually does that.
If you don’t, it will likely have the exact opposite effect.
2. Start a Blog
Blogs may not be as popular as they once were, but they’re still an invaluable branding tool.
Because blogs generate traffic you can funnel to your email list. That way, you can add people to your tribe and communicate with them on an ongoing basis.
If you’re going to build a brand, you have to have a home base. A blog is a great home base…even in 2019. 🙂
3. Host a conference
This is a time-intensive and expensive option, but it can REALLY raise your profile, which is why I suggest it.
It associates you with thought leaders, and can drive users to your platform.
We generally tie the conference to a paid product so there’s a profit margin built-in.
Then, we add upsells for access to our brand.
4. Start a YouTube Channel
We can’t all be this kid, but it’s not a bad idea to take advantage of the second largest search engine (behind Google).
We’ve done some experiments here and have seen amazing rewards.
So, if you’re going to make this one of your methods of growth, take some time to learn what is and what isn’t working.
5. Build an Engaging Social Media Presence
I cringe when I think of the phrase “social media influencer.”
But even so, it’s a great way to send traffic through the top of your funnel, so don’t discount it!
6. Build an Email List
An email list offers you more control over your communication with your audience than any other medium.
There are no algorithms to deal with, and no person in the corner affecting your visibility to your potential customers.
In our opinion, this is one of the best tools you can use to build your brand.
7. Guest Blog
What’s the fastest way to get to target customers in your niche when you’re starting from zero?
Getting in front of a pre-qualified list from a person who has a similar audience, i.e., guest blogging.
Notice the nuance here.
A similar audience does not necessarily mean a competitor. It could also mean a complementary site that serves your target market in a different way.
Be creative in coming up with targets and be authentic in your outreach.
8. Become a Go-To Podcast Guest
This is the same concept as guest blogging, but with a different medium.
Use podcasts that have already built an audience of your target customers to amplify your own brand.
9. In-Person Networking
Sometimes the fastest way to get referrals and raise your reputation is through one-on-one meetings with people in your industry who have built what you’re trying to build.
When networking, focus on both the A-list influencers in your field and your peers. It’s crucial to be known in both circles. Don’t neglect one for the other.
10. Build Your Influence on a Forum
We all have our favorite places online where we read the comments more than the articles, whether it’s a forum, blog, or a website.
That means you also know the voices on those pages. The ones people call when there’s a disagreement or pressing question. Become that person on a page in your field.
11. Answer Quora questions
Perhaps this needs a qualifier:
Answer Quora questions well.
Provide amazing and thoughtful answers. By becoming an influencer here on your topic of expertise, you could build a steady stream of organic traffic.
12. Start or Join a Reddit Thread
Reddit threads are unique animals, and if you don’t play by the rules, you might get roasted.
People can tell when you’re just there for personal gain. So, please observe for a while before contributing.
But if you have verifiable expertise, this could be a great way to expand your influence.
13. Find a Mentor
Today, experts are more accessible than ever.
Search out the people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish.
Don’t be afraid to ask for their help, just make sure you give them a solid reason to give you their attention…
And don’t be afraid to pay for it!
If someone has truly achieved the same goals you want to achieve, they’ll have knowledge from walking through the fire. So, ask for their help.
Mentorship doesn’t have to be formal to be effective. But if you can formalize it, all the better.
14. Build a Referral Network
You must be intentional about this.
If you’re good at what you do, you will get referrals. But if you’re intentional about asking, you’ll get more.
Pre-frame your pitches to include the fact that you’re a referral-based business. Then, remind clients along the way that referrals are important.
Give referral bonuses or discounts. Make the referring client a star to the referred client. There’s a lot of ways to be creative here, but it’s an invaluable way to build your brand.
15. Become a Survey Master
Specifically, build a feedback loop.
When people sign up for your email list, ask them why.
When they leave, ask them what changed.
If they purchase your product, get their words on what pushed them to purchase.
If they ask for a refund or leave a continuity program, ask them why the product failed to meet their expectations.
Then, make sure that you apply these thoughts to future iterations of your products and services.
Doing this right will give you a reputation for listening to your customers, and that’s powerful.
16. Build an SEO Engine
Organic leads are good leads. Qualified organic leads are better.
An SEO engine gives you the opportunity to have both.
Audiovisual Branding Tools
Use these tools to build audio and visual recognition for your brand
1. Get an outstanding logo
I love a good logo as much as the next person, but I often fall into the “good-enough” camp.
You don’t want a logo to be embarrassing, and you don’t want a logo that drives people away, but for most smaller brands — this shouldn’t be rocket science.
Have something recognizable and easily associated with your brand. That, to me, is an outstanding logo.
2. Rebrand/Refresh your website
If it’s time to do this, you likely already know it needs to happen.
Follow it in the context of the refresh, and you could see some amazing results.
The big thing to remember is that your website needs to serve a distinct purpose for your target client and their interaction with your company.
3. Get a distinctive typography
Again, the idea here is to get a typography that people see and immediately associate with your brand.
Think about Chick-fil-A’s or Coca-Cola’s word logos. Even Metallica is a good example.
When you have a distinctive typography that works within the context of your brand, it can only help…
Just please don’t use Comic Sans. 🙂
4. Make Shareable Infographics
As far as building a brand, creating sticky content is one of the best ways to build notoriety.
Make sure the infographic gets shared for the right reasons and make sure it points back to you. You want it to be useful, accurate, and visually appealing on a topic that’s easily shareable.
If it’s polarizing or counter-intuitive, then all the better.
5. Shoot viral GIFs
The challenging thing with GIFs is making sure that they are not only sticky/viral content but also that they can be attributed to you.
I think of the GIF with the child that immediately turns and leaves a room. I’ve used that in many instances, but I have no idea who made it.
If you’re coupling it with a media experience — a TV show, news broadcast, etc. — then it may be easier to get recognition needed to help build your brand.
As an example, I think Bravo (and its Housewives franchises) are a good example of this type of viral GIF.
6. Make Definitive How-to Video Guides
We’ve seen huge successes here with only a few videos, so now we’re actively integrating it as a brand-building activity.
But there’s an art to this on each video platform, so make sure to play by the platform’s rules when creating these videos.
7. Host a Podcast
Anytime you can associate your brand with other well-known brands, you should consider the opportunity. A podcast is a good way to not only facilitate that interaction but also to control the outcome.
Interview influencers your target market respects and publicize those interviews as much as you can.
8. Activate Your Brand
Brand Activation is creating a brand experience people can interact with.
Think of the experiential booths you’ve seen at events or brand murals that include hashtags. That sort of thing.
This is hard to get right, because it has to legitimately elevate someone’s experience of an event or a location, rather than simply function as a corporate attention-grab.
But if you choose the right event and do it well, it can really help to grow brand awareness.
9. Get a jingle or distinctive brand sound
A distinctive brand sound is not for everyone, but if one of your strategies is a comprehensive advertising campaign, developing a brand sound or jingle is an excellent idea.
Heck, I’m pretty sure at this point, we’d all like to buy the world a Coke. 🙂
Brand Management Tools and Online Branding Tools
For these tools, we will link to features and give you a brief rundown of our thought process on including them here.
You don’t need all of them, but some combination will allow you to grow your brand quickly and more efficiently than if you tried to custom-build everything on your own.
We’ve tried many of these and have moved on from some. Some we found in our research for this post. Overall, because each brand is different, what worked for us may not work for you.
Just be sure to test and test and iterate and test…
And then iterate and test some more. 🙂
- Canva. Build social media graphics quickly.
- Hootsuite. Schedule social media posts.
- Buffer. Schedule social media posts.
- SocialAnimal. Social outreach discovery tool.
- Adobe Spark Post. Visual content creation tool.
- Boomerang. This is a fun video creation tool from Instagram.
- GIPHY. Looking for a GIF or to create your own? Try GIPHY.
- Piktochart. An infographic/presentation/visual branding tool.
Social Media Platforms
I won’t bore you with explanations for these, because you already know about them. If you want to know which ones to focus on, check out my post about choosing the right social media platform.
- Wistia. Really intuitive video hosting.
- Vimeo. Similar to Wistia. Fewer features, but a little cheaper.
- Mention. This is another web presence tool. I put it here because of the power it has to monitor multiple sources for the keywords that are important to you.
- Google alerts. An old one, but still a good branding tool, especially if you have a competitor you need to keep up with. 🙂
- Google Analytics. I’d call this an essential tool. You have to know how people are using your website if you want to grow your brand. Google Analytics is the most applicable tool for this.
- SEM Rush. This is our preferred SEO tool. If you don’t think you need SEO optimization for your brand’s growth, think again. Organic traffic is a huge component of a successful online brand.
- Ahrefs. Another critical tool for SEO and competition monitoring online.
- SurveyMonkey. We use this for most of our surveys.
- Google Forms. A more open survey solution.
Email List Building
A customer relationship management solution is critical to your growth. The following are hand-selected, as they represented the most used in the personal branding space online. There are others, but these are the industry standards right now.
- Mailchimp. Mailchimp has been used as a beginner solution, but they’re growing way beyond that with some of their new automation.
- Infusionsoft. We mostly use Infusionsoft for our brands. It can do some big-time heavy lifting, so it’s a great choice for established brands.
- Drip. Drip is a nice middle ground between Mailchimp and Infusionsoft, specifically with regard to automation.
- Active Campaign. Lots of people use this. We have very limited experience with it, but in our time using it, it was able to do all the things we needed it to. They’ve made a concerted effort recently to focus on automation as well.
- Optin Help
Consistent opt-ins to your email list is a non-negotiable aspect of building an online business. Use these tools to get people to join your list and become part of your tribe.
- Leadpages. In the past we’ve used Leadpages to build landing pages for our sites. There’s a couple of quirks with it, but if you need a landing page that will integrate with a bunch of different tools, Leadpages will work well.
- Unbounce. A Leadpages competitor you should be aware of. We’ve used them sparingly in the past. They’ve focused on tracking ad spend ROI, so if you’re in that world, give them a shot.
- ThriveLeads. This is what we use for the opt-in forms on our brands’ sites. They have a huge suite of products that are helpful branding tools.
- Buzzsumo. A good way to find influencers in your niche to reach out to for guest posting or interviews.
- Sumo. This tool is a great WordPress plug-in to capture leads and convert them into email list subscribers or social media fans.
- CrazyEgg. A visual tool to help you see where and how traffic interacts with your website.
- Moo. Of all the business card companies out there, Moo is my favorite. Not the cheapest, but they create quality printed business material.
- Etsy. We used Etsy to get our office signs made. There’s a lot of options for this, but Etsy connects you with smaller vendors who do a great job.
- GotoWebinar. We’ve gone back and forth with GotoWebinar. It’s an expensive solution, but almost always works. When you use webinars to generate revenue, sometimes that’s a worthwhile trade-off.
- WebinarJam. We’ve tried this one, and like it. A cheaper alternative to GTW.
- Slack. Our internal team communication preference.
- Buzzstream. A great tool for influencer outreach.
- Zoom. We use this for internal team calls and video calls with clients.
- Uberconference. If we need to record a conference call, this is our preferred (and FREE) solution.
- Soapbox. An awesome Chrome plugin from Wistia for creating screen capture videos. This is especially useful for making visual processes for your team.
- Fiverr. If you don’t have the funds to hire a graphic designer, Fiverr can be a good solution. Make sure the designs don’t infringe on other artists’ work, though.
- Upwork. Another marketplace for freelancers. We’ve found web experts, bookkeepers, marketing consultants, and more on this site.
- 99 Designs. Another option for on-demand graphic artists, whether you’re creating a new product logo or looking for a designer for a book cover for your new lead magnet.
Great Branding Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum
Great brands rely on other great brands to grow. Your brand should be the same.
The tools listed here are invaluable in your journey to instant recognition and notoriety in the eyes of your target customers.
Take advantage of the hard work and experience of others and recognize that you don’t have to travel this path alone or reinvent the wheel.
And if you have any questions, let us know in the comments.