Pop Quiz: What is branding?
- The “look and feel” of your website
- A logo
- Your promise to your customers
- How others perceive you
- What people say about you
The answer is all of the above, and more. Your brand is inclusive of your values, personality, promise, what you say and how you say it, the experiences of your clients, and the thoughts and opinions of the outside world.
Solopreneurs and small business owners often know they need a brand, but they don’t know what that encompasses, what to do, and how to put all the pieces together.
Here’s a brand primer that encompasses all aspects of an impactful brand.
Your brand is what you, as a business, stand for. It’s what you deliver in your unique way. It’s not only that, it’s also the thoughts, opinions, and feelings that come to mind when people think of your business. (This includes what people see on your website, social media feeds, and also how you show up in person.)
Your brand includes people’s impressions of you and what you do, their experiences with you, and how you make them feel. Your brand is be conveyed through a variety of channels — basically anywhere and everywhere you show up.
Your logo, website, and business card are not your brand, but visual aids that are used to convey your brand.
Brand is all about perception. Luckily, you have a say in how you come across.
And that’s exactly why you want to be proactive about creating your brand. Because if you don’t create your brand, others will create it for you.
Branding is the process of creating your brand. A successful branding process requires developing key aspects like your
- Brand personality
- Brand values
- Brand promise
…and, as a basis for those things, you need to know and be able to communicate
- What you do & why it matters
- Who you serve & how you help them
- What makes you different & why they should care
- Why people should choose you over the competition
- What people can experience as a result of working with you
The branding process starts with YOU, and that’s why it’s so important to have a know deeply who you are and why you you do what you do, because that is the foundation for your brand and what people will resonate with.
Branding is the process of addressing the above questions, creating a strategy, and then executing on the strategy, so that you can communicate who you are as a business wherever you are.
(Note: I’m not talking about the actual monetary value of your brand.) Your brand values are the core aspects that communicate what you stand for.
Howard Schultz once said, “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”
This is why it’s so important to consciously choose your business and brand values. And show up in a way that is consistently aligned with those values.
What are the words you want to come to mind when people think about you and your business? What are those key aspects that you stand for, above all else?
Your brand personality is the combination of characteristics that make your brand unique.
If you had to describe the personality of your brand and business, what qualities come to mind? Is it gregarious, outspoken, empowering, truthful? Quiet, peaceful, serene, imaginative?
Your brand voice is a part of your personality. Is your brand voice approachable and casual or professional and sophisticated?
This is fancy speak for the visuals that convey your brand: your logo, your business card, your letterhead, your website.
These are the items that most people focus on because it’s what people see; however, it’s not the only way people experience your brand.
It’s important to develop your overall strategy first and not rush to complete these items as part of your branding process. These visuals are support pieces that work to collectively and cohesively communicate your overall brand strategy.
A brand story is the story you tell others about who you are and how you got there.
It’s not your personal story, but a collection of curated parts of your personal story that convey your journey and how you can help others.
The purpose of your brand story is to establish a connection, trust, and relationship with your potential clients, so they can relate to who you are and what you do.
It answers the questions: How did you become who you are? Why are you doing this work? Who are you and why should people care?
Your brand strategy is the thought process and the plan that communicates your brand to the world and specifically to your ideal clients.
Your brand strategy is a component of your overall business strategy, and the two should work hand in hand to helping you achieve your business goals.
The purpose of your brand strategy is to give you an overall guidepost and plan to guide your business and marketing actions moving forward.
Once you have your brand strategy in place, you can more strategically choose which marketing activities will attract and connect you with your dream clients.
Marketing refers to the activities you do as part of communicating your brand and with the objective of connecting with your ideal audience.
It’s the message (what you say) and medium (where you say it: social, email, ads, podcasts) with the ultimate goal of selling the product.
Effective marketing flows from a strong brand, and communicates what you stand for in a way that resonates with your target audience, so they sign up to buy from you.
To summarize, when you start a business, you have a brand. It’s up to you how you define it. When you take the time up front to define the various aspects of your brand, you get clear on what you offer, are able to confidently communicate the value of working with you, so that you can attract your dream clients and make a living doing what you love.
Need help defining your brand? Sign up to get a free brand assessment now through November 30, 2018.