“If you are selling to everyone then you are selling to no one.”
What distinguishes amazing brands from ho-hum brands is that they know exactly who they are selling to. They have gotten incredibly good at speaking the language of their customers and creating stories, visuals and ad copy that inspire them.
Think of the sleek simplicity of Apple, the classic feel-good fun of Coke and the luxury of Louboutin.
Every single “big” brand that you love was in your shoes at some point, trying to figure out their voice and how to make themselves stand out.
Whether you’re new to being an entrepreneur or you’ve run your business for years, your company’s brand is one of the most important things to get right. Why? It makes selling so much easier.
At Little Pim, we started out with a brand that had a great main character (Little Pim the panda) but used fonts that were relatively commonplace and had not spent much time refining which moms we were trying to reach. After about five years, we did a total rebrand and drilled down with a consultant on who our ideal client was and how to speak right to her with our brand and marketing. This was instrumental in getting into more upscale retail stores, raising capital and selling more products.
Defining your brand isn’t something you only do once. It’s something that keeps evolving over time until you land on what both represents your company values and resonates deeply with your customers. If they love your company and connect with its brand, they become your greatest ambassadors (think about the last time you recommended a product or service to a friend? That company must have been doing something right with their brand!).
Before I give you some actionable tips for getting your brand out there, let’s get on the same page about what branding means.
Your branding is:
- The words and images you use to describe your company, your customers’ problems, your solution and your mission.
- The aesthetics (logo, layout, font etc) of your website and all marketing materials
- The overall communication of characteristics, values and attributes that define what your brand is (and what it isn’t).
Your brand strategy is not the same as your marketing strategy. The easiest way to separate the two is by thinking of marketing as a push to sell products and branding as a pull to attract your ideal customers. How strong is your branding magnet?
Someone who the Million Dollar Women community can learn a lot from about branding is Pia Silva, author of Badass Your Brand. She had one of the most popular workshops at the Million Dollar Women Summit in March.
According to Pia, brands that stand out are noticeable, memorable, shareable and profitable. Sounds simple, right? But don’t worry if wrapping your mind around what those words mean for your company is hard. Like I said before, branding takes time to develop.
One of the best pieces of advice Pia offered at the Summit (and that she also shares in her book) is a reframe on the way most experts think about branding. Instead of trying to figure out what your company stands for, try to think about what your company stands against.
Most of the time, it’s easier to determine what your business stands against. For instance, at her company they stand against one size fits all design and against tons of branding jargon and complex presentations. That simple “what do I stand against” exercise can help you clarify your voice and define what makes your brand unique.
Three simple ways you can amplify your brand for free:
You don’t need to hire a branding agency or a new logo designer to get your brand out there. Here are some ways you can get your name and brand in front of more people without spending money. That being said, these will cost you some time.
1. Build your thought leadership
To enhance and build your brand I suggest creating content in the form of a blog, newsletter, video or podcast on a regular basis. Creating content is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge, expertise and of view. All of these are what will separate you from your competition and make you stand out.
Creating content is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge, expertise and of view. All of these are what will separate you from your competition and make you stand out.
Have no idea what to write or talk about? Here are some ideas:
- Answer frequently asked questions that your customers and clients have about your product or service.
- Educate your customers and leads about your area of expertise. Your best customers do care about how the sausage is made.
- Talk about subjects that connect to your product or service. For example, if your business is making jewelry, you could write content around fashion and putting outfits together instead of just talking about your own products.
Writing and creating content on a regular basis is not something quick to check off your list, but with dedication, you’ll build a “library” of quality content that will make your brand stand out.
2. Choose a social media platform to focus on wisely
It’s easy to get caught up in pushing content out on every platform, but if you want the time you spend on social media to make a dent in your business, it’s best to focus on the one where most of your customers are hanging out on.
For example, you can easily reach Millennials on Instagram, but will have a harder time connecting with them on Linkedin. And if you’re trying to reach professionals or people with corporate jobs, Linkedin and Twitter will work better than Pinterest.
Focus on growing one platform that makes the most sense for your customers instead of driving yourself crazy trying to drive awareness about your brand on all of them.
3. Connect and collaborate with influencers
To gain more traction while your brand is growing, you can leverage the brand equity of others in your space to get in front of more people.
One way to do this is through your content creation. By interviewing influencers in your space and highlight other business owners and thought leaders in your content, you’re creating good karma for your brand. Plus, you never know how they may return the favor.
They may invite you to collaborate on something they are working on too, or they might feel inclined to share what you’ve created with their audience.
While you might think that your branding shouldn’t be a huge focus because it doesn’t directly bring in revenue, the difference between getting it right and wrong could be millions of dollars for your business.
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