This is a guest post courtesy of Kate with tips on things you might want to consider before diving headlong into a branding campaign.
It’s important to have a destination in mind whenever you embark on any journey.
And branding is (at least in my book) ultimately a journey of discovery, whether you are trying to build a personal brand to platform off of, or a business brand designed to connect with your desired audience. Take it away Kate!
Marketers, college students, business professionals, and average Joes or Janes.
All these people tend to have one thing in common… they are constantly searching for that opportunity to kick start their way to success.
I’m here to tell you that you can’t passively sit around and wait.
Opportunity doesn’t always come knocking.
You to be successful? It’s not going to happen while you’re sitting on your hands. Go beyond the bare minimum.
And while a marketing degree isn’t required to achieve success, I can’t say it doesn’t help, especially when attempting to establish a brand. But even without that, you can still begin taking action on your goals and seeking that success. So first things first…
What is a Brand?
If you already know the answer to this one, is you can skip on to the next section. If you don’t know the answer, keep reading. A brand according to Seth Godin is:
“A set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
While brands are often thought of as grand marketing campaigns for big companies, the same principals can be used to make a success of a small businesses and even an individual in the form of what’s often called “personal branding”. (Ala celebrity brands like Snooki or Lady Gaga.)
The goal of a brand is to:
- Set yourself a part from your competitors (whether you are a business or an individual).
- Influence how your customers, peers, and potential clients view you and your services or products.
- Create strong connections and emotional bonds with your audience.
Planning Your Brand?
Don’t charge into building a brand name without a little forethought. Remember that the way that people see you will affect both a personal reputation or a professional career, so any branding endeavor should be well thought out.
Before you begin forming a brand, you should determine what you want to gain by cultivating a brand. When someone hears the name of your brand, what do you want them to think about?
Try to determine what changes you could to make to your personal and professional life to support that image naturally.
Decide on an Area of Expertise.
What product, service, or skills do you want (or want your business) to be known for? For some people this step will be easy. Others may find it difficult to narrow down.
If you don’t know what you want to focus on or specialize in, don’t sweat it. While it makes it a little difficult to change your brand image later, it’s not impossible.
For now the important part is to try to determine what you are passionate about most. It very well could be the area of expertise you’re looking for.
Implementing Your Brand
One great way to begin building your brand is to create and maintain a blog you regularly contribute to.
What does a blog do?
A blog is a free or inexpensive resource that allows you to potentially connect with thousands and even millions of people. On top of that the topic of your blog can allow you to set yourself up as an authority in your area of expertise.
Just remember that in order to maintain a blog (and by extension your brand), you will need to regularly update it. A blog that is never updated will not create enough momentum or exposure to develop a brand.
You also need to make sure it’s well thought out and represents both visually and with your content and copy exactly the image and message you are trying to project.
Promoting Your Brand
One relatively painless and cost effective way to spread your brand message and begin gaining some visibility is by appearing on other blogs in your niche as a guest contributor. Writing for other blogs, especially blogs that have a large loyal following, will allow you access to a bigger audience.
Not mention the blog owner is essentially recognizing your expertise and knowledge publicly, which can further boost your credibility and authority within your chosen niche.
Even though a publishing blog owner may not say it outright, readers will assume they are suggesting that you or your business are a figure that should be trusted and looked to for accurate and informative information.
You can also use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to form and maintain contacts with other individuals in and outside your niche.
By interacting with people on social media sites you can foster relationships that could be beneficial to your brand’s growth later. Your brand is an asset you should constantly be looking to improve upon.
You’ll know you did your job right when you begin receiving requests from blog owners for guest contributions or requests for your services or products from your audience. And that’s exactly what you want. For people to come to you.
You should always be analyzing ways you can improve your brand. The world, especially the world of technology, moves fast.
You do not want to allow your brand to become stale. Always proactively search for new ideas, knowledge, and strategies to keep your blog and social media sites fresh, your branding campaign current, and your audience eager for more.
With a little planning and a lot of work, you can create a strong brand people will remember and want to be a part of.
It may seem like an exhausting process, but when people start coming to you for your knowledge, skills, products or services because they feel only you can give them what they need, all that hard work will be well worth it.
Over to You
What has been your experience in attempting to create and establish a successful brand? What are some of the trials and pitfalls you have encountered? Got any unique ways you overcame them? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.