Back in the 90s this symbol — # — was a pound sign not a hashtag.
And back then, a company’s logo was their image. Now with the rise of social media, a company’s image — and subsequent story — is called branding. Consumers have become so involved in their favorite brands —THEY help tell a company’s story. They tweet, Instagram and Facebook the good, the bad and the beautiful. So how do companies hit that sweet spot to get consumers to fall for their brand?
“Marketing isn’t a department — it’s the story of how you create a difference for your customers,” says Bernadette Jiwa brand strategist and blogger at The Story of Telling. “The difference between a good idea and a commercial success is context — the understanding about who the product or service is for, what they really want deep down and why they will care about this, more than that. We spend most of our time trying to make people love things, when we should be simply making things people love.” Boom! There. It. Is.
Every brand has a story to tell. So clear some time in your schedule, grab a pen, print out the infographic at the end and follow the advice of these five fabulous brands that will help you build a brand in five days so you can begin to tell your story.
Day 1: Define who you are and what you do
Ok, this might sound relatively easy: you know who you are and what you do, but how do you do it differently than everyone else? What’s your unique selling proposition? What type of service do you offer that other health coaches don’t? How is your fitness plan different than other personal trainers? It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you have to find that connection.
Jules Taggart, founder and content strategist at Jules Taggart Marketing is someone you’re immediately drawn to and want to meet. When you speak with her, she seals the deal. You’re hooked and what to know more. What makes her different than any other marketer out there? She makes it about you.
“The easiest way to do this is to make it personal — and I’m not talking about ‘Hi [FIRST NAME]’ in my newsletter. I mean communicating in a way that feels like it was intended specifically for the person reading, watching, seeing it. Like it was created with them in mind,” says Taggart.
“You have competitors who deliver the exact same services as you. It’s not really about what you do anymore, it’s about the way you do it. Your clients expect to see results — if you’re a copywriter, they expect to get flawless, engaging copy. If you’re a website designer, they expect to receive a beautiful, functional website. Results are expected — experience is the wildcard. Your clients expect you to deliver on your promises, but it’s the way they feel about their experience and the way they remember their interactions with you that makes them want to work with you again and refer you to others,” she says.
Besides becoming more personal in an online world, think about how you’re different than your competition. Make a list of the services you offer and the ones you don’t and why. List your strengths and weaknesses, how your hobbies might tie into your services, anything that defines you who are and what you can offer.
Day 2: Define your client/customer/audience and how you want to speak to them
Sit down with a pen and paper and get ready to list EVERY attribute your potential customer has.
• Are they young, old, male, female, wealthy, entrepreneurs, school-age children, parents?
• Where do you find them? Social media, in brick and mortar storefronts, online groups?
• What do they need? Web design, marketing, a new doctor?
• Who are they using now for the same service you provide?
• Why would they switch?
Once you know who your target is, how will you connect with them and tell their story? In person, online, are they using social media? How will you keep the conversation going?
Online fitness trainers and real life friends, Karena Dawn and Katrina Hodgson of Tone It Up, started out as two young women with a love of fitness who created a You Tube channel. They began with sharing fitness routines and tips and that turned into a profitable business which includes supplement and clothing lines, retreats, exercise videos and books. Combined, their social media handles have over a million followers.
Their secret is — they ARE their customer. They’ve both struggled with weight and confidence issues and knows it takes workouts, support, eating plans and cheerleading to overcome them. Through their community, they share free workouts, challenges and recipes. Their hashtags #TIUteam and #Bikiniseries have over 2 million hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. Members of their community have meetups around the world. Their community has become their brand and they’ve embraced it.
Day 3: Make your personality shine through your brand
You are your brand, which means your brand should be you. Customers are real people so they want to relate to people not businesses. How to inject your brand with some personality that customers can relate to?
Melissa Cassera, PR strategist, marketing and communication virtuoso teaches entrepreneurs how to “swirl” their personality with their brand to build an audience that is obsessed with them. Her own audience is addicted to HER brand.
“Having multiple passions and being a multi-dimensional person makes you more charismatic, more interesting and more compelling. It’s about embracing all parts of you — not being afraid to be who you really are — and attracting clients who are totally turned on by who you are and what you love,” says Cassera.
“Don’t edit yourself out of your brand. This is one of the most common mistakes I notice with entrepreneurs, especially in copy and content. If you have a tendency to edit your voice/personality, then dictate what you want to say, record it, and transcribe it. It works wonders!”
Start by making a list of your personality traits, your hobbies and what you’re passionate about. See how they intersect with your business and let your personality shine!
Day 4: Make it official and professional
If customers are to trust you and commit to your brand, your brand needs to be professional. Hire that graphic designer to create your logo, business cards, website so that you have a consistent look. Hire a marketing guru and/or a business coach to help you plan strategy. Research business systems so your invoicing, proposals and communications are complete, organized and automated. How you treat your business is how you’ll be perceived to treat a client’s business.
Designer and stylist Megan Bailey’s brand is so bright and consistent. It’s professional, fresh, inviting and after seeing her images around the internet, you can pick them out of a crowd.
“There are so many design perspectives out there and so many different ways to represent a brand. It’s important to figure out what your unique style is and what you can bring to the table that is different from other designers. This may take a little trial and error but it’s important to not get caught up in what others are doing and are successful at. Your work will shine and get noticed if you are authentic and consistent,” says Bailey. “Don’t just put something out there to put something out there. Make it right the first time!”
Consistency is key for your audience to get to know and love you.
“Right from the start — every single piece of material from a logo to photography to social media posts need to be consistent and professionally organized. The ultimate goal is to have people gravitate and recognize your work instantly,” she says. “This can be achieved by being consistent and only putting pieces of work out there that represent your brand and your message. When it comes to building a brand on Instagram, for example, it’s so important that everything feels consistent — to the way you write, to using the same filter on all your images, so they feel uniformed and represent the image you are trying to portray.”
Day 5: Find your niche, deliver, repeat
For your customers to be loyal to you, you need to be loyal to your brand. We’ve already determined consistency is key. But not only with your logo and materials, but with how you connect with your audience. If you find them on Instagram, make sure that’s where you’re sharing on a regular basis. Send out that enewsletter on a weekly basis. Tweet and retweet your followers.
Life coach Dr. Danielle Dowling has a beautiful, unique way of nurturing her tribe. Regularly, she shares her favorite things found around the interwebs in her column, Blogs I Heart.
“I began the ‘Blogs I Heart’ series because I was tired of thinking of myself all of the time,” says Dowling. “It gives me a much-needed, lovely break away from the demands of my own business and the refreshing opportunity to dive head first into someone else’s emotional world. It’s like going wind surfing across time zones, cultures, perspectives, gender relations and more! You name it and there is someone out there covering it, living it and talking about it and I am deeply honored to help extend their voice on my blog via one modest line.”
“It’s also a rewarding venture in connection. When we pick our heads up from our egocentric bubbles and take notice of what other spirited souls are doing and living we have the chance to feel more emotionally tethered, anchored and understood,” she says. “We feel less alone and maybe, just maybe, a bit more celebrated. And that, that is quite precious to the human heart.”
Are you ready to start telling your story?
Below is an infographic with steps to build your brand but it’s also an actionable worksheet to capture ideas immediately. Tackle one step per day, take your time, be thoughtful and a week from now your brand’s plan will be formulated!