Quick Note: Be sure to check back later this afternoon for a great guest post from Willie Crawford, Internet Marketing Expert and all around NICE guy for his take on how easy all this Internet Marketing stuff can really be!
If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, you already know a little something about the term branding, or at the very least have heard it’s something important you need to start doing. The problem is that many people think branding is simply slapping up a logo and being done with it.
Um… no. Not quite.
Yes a logo will play a large role in your branding efforts. So choosing a killer logo will be a necessary step in your branding plan. But you should also understand that in addition to the logo, your graphics, your tagline, and your total persona and identity is part of your brand package as well. And if you are a solo-entrepreneur like me, YOU are the driving force behind your brand.
Branding is almost like tattooing a claim of ownership on your behind. OK, maybe not quite but that was funny to say! 🙂 Seriously though, branding is all about who YOU are, how you are perceived to the world and how your business is viewed by your clients. So you might as well have it tattooed on your behind! Just sayin’.
Now, I don’t necessarily claim to be the number one expert in all of this branding business, but I have learned a thing or two in the course of starting my own entrepreneurial journey. I don’t run a brick and mortar business nor am I a huge corporation. But I think some basic principles of branding ring true regardless of whether you’re talking so-called ‘personal’ branding, or so-called ‘business branding’. Branding is branding is branding. Think of it as sort of a mish-mash of personal and business branding, which gives birth to your ‘business personality’.
Branding is about who you are (and who your business is), and how you want the world to see you. The world is built on perceptions and luckily YOU are in control of how you want to be perceived by the world. YOU get to decide what you’re all about. YOU get to decide what’s important to you and how you present those ideas to the world. YOU get to decide what kind of reputation you want to build. See the theme here? Branding is all about YOU and how you want the world to see you and feel about you.
And it’s important because even if you say ‘eh… who cares?’ and never concern yourself with branding at all… guess what? You’ll still be branding yourself anyway because you can’t stop people’s perceptions of you or your business. The only difference is you won’t be being proactive about it, and you might be putting out a brand that does you more harm than good. People like to do business with other professionals, and people who get serious about creating a reputable brand are seen as true professionals.
Building a brand that stands out from the crowd takes work and a commitment to excellence. It will be the deciding factor between whether a client chooses you or your competition. A true brand is seen as a sort of commitment to deliver on your promises, and is at the core of everything you do when marketing yourself and your business.
And as I stated before, yes logos play a pretty big role. Equally important is your tagline and the overall look and feel of your logo. Another thing is the overall look and feel of your website in addition to your logo. Everything should be complimentary, and at the same time stand out from the other kids in the class. Different can be good… distinctive is excellent… when you add original to boot you get an A+. Also keep in mind that simplicity can be powerful, but it doesn’t equal boring.
Ideally your brand should provide some kind of clue as to what your business offers. For instance, a business named BoatSwim, with a logo of a boat in the water implies something about boats and swimming. So if your business isn’t about boats and swimming and is instead about scuba diving, BoatSwim and logo may not be the best fit for your particular business and branding efforts.
Once you’ve chosen your perfect name and had your logo created, it’s important to begin stamping your brand everywhere you can. That means you use it on your website and social media platforms. You use it on your business cards. You use it on your letterheads and advertising materials. You use it in your RSS feeds and marketing emails.
You use it anywhere and everywhere you can think of. The idea is to get prolific and start spreading your brand around so that it become something people see all the time, and become accustomed to seeing. Over time they begin to associate that brand with you and your business, and when they think ‘ghostwriter’ they think of you… I mean me! Or when they think ‘scuba gear’ they think of you. You get the picture right?
When you’re advertising and marketing yourself, consistency is so important. It’s something I struggle with myself because I am innately a creative person. I always have new and better ideas for myself and my brand, and the direction I want to take in my business. So the things I do tend to reflect that creativeness but it that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m always consistent with it! And I actually started my business BEFORE I really knew or understood about all of these things like branding and marketing. So see? I struggle with the same things many of you may struggle with too!
Now because this article is fairly long, here are a few takeaways to keep in mind:
- Your brand is a reflection of YOU. Call it your ‘business personality’ if that helps, but the key thing is that it’s still a reflection of YOU. Tom Peters has a great article on this exact subject if you’re interested in further reading.
- Your brand is consistent, effective, and not overly complex. However it is still distinct and original.
- Your brand motivates people and connects with the emotions of your prospects in some way. They begin to associate your brand with their perfect solution.
- Your brand is clear and reinforces your authority and credibility. It inspires loyalty within the hearts of your customers and clients.
- Your brand is made up of many different components, NOT just a logo. It’s also your tagline, your message, your total package and the sum of all experiences and perceptions your clients and customers have of you and your business.
- Your brand is decided upon by YOU. Can’t say that enough! And if you neglect trying to create an effective brand, it will be created for you built on the perceptions of the world around you, whether you like it or not. So be proactive and exert some control on how the world sees you and your business.
Finally, remember that the real secret lies in getting your brand out there to the world. It lies in singing your message from the rooftops. It lies in constantly putting it in the faces, minds, and hearts of your target market. And yes, it even lies in figuratively tattooing it on your behind!
I hope you enjoyed this post, and got a lot out of it. If you did, please be sure to share with your friends and feel free to drop me a note in the comment box below. To stay updated when new posts are up, you can subscribe via EMAIL or RSS.