So, you’ve got the business thing down but you need help branding yourself, right? I know how tough and confusing it can be, trust me.
The good news for you is I actually studied branding. My degree is in public relations, and I’m kind of a huge nerd about creating a strong brand your clients, customers, and audience will resonate with. After all, you can have the world’s best product or service, but you gotta know how to package it and get the word out about your business.
To help you gain some clarity on where to even begin, I put together these top three things you need to familiarize yourself with to develop a strong brand.
1. What is a Brand?
To put it simply, a brand is determined by the clients, customers, and/or audience’s perception of a business. It is the personality and soul of what a business does and offers.
You can—and should—certainly put great effort into your branding. But at the end of the day, your brand is the result of how you consistently serve people and present yourself visually and verbally. That is what will solidify the personality of your business. It’s what creates trust and loyalty from your clients, customers, and audience.
“Is there a big difference in personal branding and business branding? No. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur. Your business will reflect who you are as a person, and if people don’t trust you as a person, they are less likely to invest in your business.”– KaSandra Mitchell, The Humble Lion
2. Brand Identity
Since this is an introduction to branding, I don’t want to overwhelm you with everything you need to know about brand identity. So here is a list of things to help you get your wheels turning on how you will represent your business with your visuals and voice:
Define your target audience.
This is an essential first step and I cannot stress that enough. Once you know exactly who you are trying to reach with your service or product, you will refine your “voice” and how you promote your entire brand. Think about it, if you’re trying to sell skincare to a woman in her mid-30s, your language and tone would be different when talking to them than when you would speak to a 16-year-old. Amiright?
Nail down your mission statement.
This is just a very short, formal summary of the intentions and values of your business. In everything you do and every choice you make, you should keep your mission statement in mind and only move forward when that choice is aligned with your mission statement. For example, my favorite (non-affiliated) skincare brand is Beautycounter. Their mission statement says, “Our social mission is inseparable from our brand: We educate families about the need for safer chemicals and products, and work to bring about much-needed change to the beauty industry—and to our lives.” It is evident that all of their branding and messaging strategies reflect that mission. Have a look for yourself.
You’ll also need a tagline.
Nike likely has the most famous tagline out there. Don’t act like you don’t know it. “Just do it” has been going strong since 1988 and you’d recognize it without seeing any of their actual products or even their logo. That’s powerful. My personal favorite tagline right now is my girl Gloria Atanmo’s of The Blog Abroad:
“Life is short. See the world. Spread joy.”
Let me tell ya, she takes ownership of every last synonym of that tagline.
Choose a color palette.
I’ll go into detail on how to go about choosing your color palette in a later post, but almost any designer will have you begin with heavy market research and will help you create a mood board to see what you are naturally drawn to. From there you’ll choose what best suits you and your business.
I personally chose colors directly out of my favorite photograph I’ve taken of my husband and me during our Great Ocean Road trip in Australia. *Tripod set up for the win.* I also carried over my beloved “dusty blue” color from my original branding that was created over three years ago. Here’s a look at that photo + my brand colors.
You’re going to need a logo.
Branding 101. People need to be able to recognize you instantly. Chat with a designer. If you are pinching pennies, talk to a college student trying to build their portfolio.
I am personally BURSTING AT THE SEAMS over my new logo created by Sam Palencia over at Ink and Laurel. I had followed her work for over two years before making my investment. Her style always lured me in and I knew she was my dream designer. I can’t recommend working with her highly enough.
Here are a few versions of my new logo:
Font types are muy importante.
Are you going to be casual with your audience? Script fonts can be fun. Jenna Kutcher owns this beautifully and tastefully. Also, she’s a branding queen. Stalk her now. Trying to be a bit bolder? A serif font may be for you (and me). ;}
High-quality visuals are non-negotiable.
We are living in an increasingly connected and visual world. With that is a growing amount of talented photographers, videographers, and graphic designers. You NEED to be investing in them if you don’t have these skills yourself. They will set you apart from the rest of the crowd and help you truly capture the essence of your brand. It may take some research and shopping around, but once you find someone who is the right fit, they will be one of your best investments.
*This is your less-than-subtle reminder that I offer brand photography and consulting. It’s kinda my thing. If my style isn’t what you’re looking for, I will gladly point you in the right direction of other creatives I know and trust.
Here are some more of the photos I took during Susan’s brand photoshoot for your viewing pleasure:
3. Brand Strategy
Your brand strategy will be your plan that outlines your long-term goals for brand recognition, loyalty, and trust. This includes how, what, when, and where you will be delivering your brand messages and who you will be communicating them to. Let’s think about some of the places you’ll need to be raising awareness about your brand:
This seems obvious, but in today’s world, you need to be on social media to share more about your brand organically. Sure, you can also advertise on Facebook, Instagram, and more, but at least 80% of your content needs to be organic. It should show off your brand’s personality and help you build and strengthen your community. It’s up to you to decide where your target market will be spending the most time, research how people enjoy using those apps and build out your social media strategy accordingly.
*I personally HATE Instagram accounts with text-heavy images, and I’m not alone in this. If you have a meme account then, by all means, lay on the text. Maybe you’re a graphic designer and want to show off logos you’ve made. You are the exception. But this highly visual platform should focus more on photos and video. Use the comments section to use your words.
Email Marketing / Newsletters
Okay, seriously, email marketing NEEDS to be at the top of your brand communications strategy. There are entire courses out there that teach you how to grow your own (Jenna Kutcher’s is my fave), but for now, take note that this is a must. While social media is important, you do not own any of your platforms or the people who follow you on them. If all hell broke loose and the Internet gods severed our abilities to get on Instagram, we’d still need to have a way to reach our loyals.
*Side note: do not be spammy. Just don’t. You’ll turn people off like the needy guy with bad breath you met at the bar.
Look, if you’re not a good writer, that’s okay. There are AMAZING copywriters out there. They will adapt to your brand’s voice and represent your business even better than you would at times. Blogs not only help people get to know you and your product or service, but they also help your SEO (search engine optimization…aka how you rank on Google.) It makes it easier for people to find you when they use search engines like Google and Pinterest, which leads to my next point…
Every time you put out new content, you should also be publishing it on Pinterest. Seriously, this has the potential to lead thousands of people to your website. Think of it as a more personalized, aesthetically pleasing Google. It’s a search engine, not another social media platform.
“Rising tides lift all ships.” Sure, we all have competitors, but instead of giving them the cold shoulder, why not just figure out ways to benefit one another? *Like my collab with fellow photog and branding babe, Susan Jordan, photographed above.*
This can also be done through guest blogging, podcasting, second-shooting (for my fellow photogs), or hosting a community-driven event. My pals over at Cured Nutrition have absolutely mastered this by hosting events to celebrate their community. They gift some of their various CBD samples and bring their team together in the same room to hang out and educate consumers on their products.
There is so, so much to learn about how to properly brand your business and build client and consumer trust. I hope this was a first good step for you.
If you’d like to dive into a deeper, more personalized conversation about driving your brand forward, shoot me an email and we can set up a consultation.
All my love,