Business branding. It’s a hot topic right now that seems to have about a thousand different definitions. Developing your personal brand can feel intimidating if you don’t know where to start (or if you think you know where to start but become overwhelmed with the options). Don’t worry, I’m here to clarify some things and show you how to make branding work for you. Let’s jump in!
If I asked you to close your eyes and think about Starbucks — what do you see? Maybe you see their logo? The green aprons and streamlined cardboard cups and sleeves? The siren imagery used on much of their marketing material? But it’s more than just the iconic “Starbucks” images that come to mind, right? You think about their viral Pumpkin Spice campaign, every good and bad experience you’ve had at their stores, any involvement they have in your community, and the time you met your Great Aunt Tilly there before Christmas last year.
Starbucks has a pretty great brand, and I’m not pushing the products in any way (although I will admit to being a bit of a caffeine addict, should you ever be in the neighborhood and in the mood to drop off a caramel macchiato and say ‘hey’). They’re memorable. They have strong images and ideas associated with who they are, the service they provide, and the beverages and products they sell. It’s important for every business to have this kind of resonance, and that’s why you should be constantly working to build your business’s brand.
You might be sitting back saying, “That’s all good and well, but my company has a logo and a mission statement, my clients know who I am. I’m all over this whole branding thing.” While this might be true, your brand is so much more than the surface-elements that define your company.
Your brand is what people will remember about who you are as a business, it’s the reason they’ll recommend you to their friends, it presents who you are and what you’re about and offers new and existing clients to partner with you and support you just by existing. And, most importantly, it is not a marketing ploy. It’s an entirely organic way to have clients magnetized to you — just by being you! That sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
While some elements of branding, like the reaction that a client has to your products or services, aren’t entirely in your control, many of them are. After all, you are the only one in control of your business’s identity. It can feel and be whatever you want it to be. So, let’s get into the nitty gritty with some pointers on how to create your personal brand and use it to benefit your business.
- Maintain the same tone, everywhere and always. You are your brand, so all content you put out into the world has to have the same feeling to it. My suggestion? Identify who you want to be as a business professional, and go from there. Save everything you write or publish. Back check anything new you might be publishing on your website, social media, or personal profiles against what you’ve previously liked and written. Check for consistencies in phrasing, stances, and broad-stroke ideas.
- Build your brand by consistently engaging. Get vocal in the comments section of your favorite business blogs and websites. Use your social media feeds to promote reputable causes you believe in and share ideas from clients or customers that you’re inspired by. Connect with people who are like minded and who appreciate you for exactly what you are.
- Don’t be afraid to get niche. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has to like your business and what you provide. Sometimes it’s better if a smaller group really loves you. Finding and defining your niche opens so many doors for your brand. By connecting with clients you’re passionate about working with, you’re growing yourself and your business. You’re specializing. You’re providing top of the line interactions with people who value them. That’s a brand-defining moment that’s pretty exciting, and you don’t want to miss it because you’re so focused on delivering to the masses.
- Create awareness. Every business needs awareness to survive and thrive, and you can use branding to get the recognition your one-of-a-kind business deserves. A helpful tip? Use stories to create a business profile. The days of old marketing are gone, as are many of the traditional views of business profiles, company about pages, etc. Reach out to your favorite clients. Ask them if they’d be comfortable sharing some of the amazing experiences you’ve had together, and put their stories to use! The best way to create a memorable business brand that gets people to love you is to use the words of people who already love you.
- Have a little fun. Branding can also be very visual, and the more bold and consistent your company’s visual brand is, the more memorable it will be. So play with fonts and colors. Revamp your website and launch a business blog. The possibilities are endless and the opportunities for growth are ever-present. You are passionate about what you do, so have some fun with creating the perfect look for your business brand.
There’s a time for change. Maybe it’s right now, maybe it’s in five years. The beautiful thing about branding is that it doesn’t have to stay static. Your brand can change as you do, so don’t be scared of embracing those times when you feel like your business brand no longer matches who you are and what you do. Change isn’t a bad thing, sometimes a new take on your brand can completely rejuvenate your business and your passion for what you do.