“I’d like to create a brand that speaks about me.”
“I need someone from Fiverr to design me a brand.”
“I know what I do but I wonder how to turn that into a brand?”
You’ve probably heard similar remarks. “Your brand” is talked a lot about these days, especially in a world where online commerce and the micro not-location-specific online business is gaining such momentum. But what is your “brand”?
Let me say right up that your brand is not your logo. Coca-Cola is not about the logo or even the shape of the bottle. It includes all you feel when you think about Coke – fun, young, outdoors. Apple is not about the backlit macintosh apple with a bite out of it, it is all that it entails – design quality, Steve Jobs, the whole ecosphere of physical and software design surrounding tech.
Your brand is not all about you either. True, your personal brand wraps around your business brand. Eventually everything about your business must align with the brand – the way you and your team behave, how you appear to customers, your values, the business’ model, yes the logo, the messages and even the look and feel of marketing and ads.
However, especially in the smaller or micro business, it does start with you because your business is identified with you, so let’s start with it being your business. You need to be you whether that you is operating in business mode or in private mode. So we need to start with your personal values.
Here are the 5 things you need to know about your brand.
1. It starts with you
Write down the 10 most cherished values you hold – then narrow it down to 5 that truly represent the person you are.
They don’t have to be about business. They might be about your values on ethics or on society such as “honesty beyond reproach” or “I believe in an inclusive society.” They might be about what you hold dear in your life such as “family above all.” They might be about your style like “casual and comfortable” or “organic and natural.”
As you collect the 10 and then narrow to 5, ask yourself if these are core values – if you were ever in a position where you have to choose between one of them and total disaster e.g. business closure, would you give up the value? For example I have met more than a small number of people who have included “honesty” as one of their values – and then gone on and told me about the time they hid something or told a white lie to get a contract.
These need to be your to-die-for values.
Once you have your 5 core values, ask yourself how many of them translate to your business. Hopefully most if not all 5 should be capable of being reflected in your business otherwise you are going to feel so conflicted if you had to make a business decision that breached a “personal” value.
What you should thus end up with is the definition of your personal brand – “this is what I and my business stand for.”
2. Find your target market
You need to be very clear who you serve. In online business people talk about their “avatar” and in the old sense, this was your target market demographics.
Describe your ideal customer in terms of what they are, what gender and age, what they do, what they like. What do they struggle with and need solutions for that your product or service will help with? What benefits are they looking for? Creating a brand to appeal to everyone is an exercise in futility.
Once you have defined your target market or avatar, ask if your values appeal to this target market. If so (hopefully or you may have to rethink your product, business model or target market!) ask yourself how you need to portray your personal brand to the target market.
Training a non-finance trained person on “how to keep the books on this app” is very different from training an accountant on how to use the app. So your message about your brand – and therefore how you behave, what product content you create, what images you use in branding – have to be uniquely represented to different target markets, and target market segments.
3. Find your uniqueness
Having found your values and behaviour sets, and identifying your target market and their needs doesn’t make your brand unique.
Now you need to find what makes you unique, from within your brand.
Your uniqueness could come from your business model – “I’m the only one offering 5 minute pop-up training on my expertise.”
It could come from your product or service – “I’m the only one that sells healthy gluten-free cocktail canapes.”
It could come from your delivery methods – “I’m the only one to personally drop off your order, with a flower attached.”
It could come from your style – “Hey, my video courses on how to clean the house are funny, quirky and fun.”
It could come from competition – “Why would you buy from that traditional old store when you can get sleeker, cutting-edge stuff from me?”
Make your brand pop.
4. Describe your brand as a personality
I started with you, now let’s move from you to a “person” that represents your brand, and not a logo, vision statement or an avatar description or a list of values. If your business (not you now) was a “person” how would you describe them? Would they be predominantly a male or female person? What would they wear and what style would they like? What age might they be and how would they express themselves?
You may never describe these characteristics to a customer, but knowing them would help you become more precise about your brand.
Once you’ve brainstormed this through, start to write some characteristics about your business brand, described as a person. Incorporate all the thinking from the previous steps.
For example you might say that “My brand is an older man who believes in social equality and helping people to become the best they can be. Through core values that are the same as mine he serves older gentlemen regain confidence in themselves and find romance again after a death or other separation. He totally understands his customers’ needs, especially about privacy, and is unique by providing an “after-first-date” counselling service.”
5. Take your brand to other areas of your marketing
Now that you have a clear idea of your business brand – and how you wrap around it – think about that brand person’s characteristics and translate them to the other areas of your marketing activity.
Let’s take the logo. What colours might be in the logo? They are the colours the “person” you described your brand as would like. My description above of the “older man” would probably not be associated with pink, but perhaps blues, greys and dark reds (think of a conservative business suit and tie). The font is unlikely to be something loose and wild but measured and more conservative.
What about brochures and websites? Think of the language that the person may use – understanding, measured, unbiased, honest.
If you have team members ask how they would represent that person? How would they speak and behave in line with the look and feel of that person?
So now that you have “fleshed out” what your brand is, start to speak from that position in everything that you do. Get your team engaged and on board with the description and review every time it is used to see that the brand is properly delivered.
Marketing is a long journey and everything has to be lined up. It’s a far easier journey if you know “who” is taking it for you so that you can reflect and portray that journey from the heart.
If you want to know more about targeted marketing to find your ideal customer, read my book called “SMART Marketing – 7 Easy Steps to More Sales” available on Amazon.
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