Standing out as a business is often a struggle, but having specific direction in your business brand can help you streamline your marketing efforts with laser focus. But what if you don’t have a handle on your brand, and you wonder if you should make your brand personal.
Repeat this mantra to yourself: “I am my brand.” There’s really no question whether or not you should make yourself part of your brand. You are part of what makes your business unique. You are what none of your competition can possibly replicate—your vision, your approach, your care, your passion, and your personality. Competitors may make a product or offer services that look identical to yours on paper, but they’ll never be able to copy you.
Putting yourself out there as part of your brand gives your business numerous advantages:
- You humanize your brand and build trust through that humanization
- You build relationships over time which leads to increased credibility
- You create consistency in your brand which increases your influence
- You gain more personal referrals and grow your customer base and customer loyalty
- You have increased recognition in the marketplace which expands your network
- You boost sales and profits by coordinating all of the above business advantages
Creating a strong personal brand is more and more critical in a social media-driven market. In a time when almost anyone can easily promote their business on social media, doesn’t it make sense to do whatever you can to set yourself apart? You can rise above the mess by figuring out who you are, creating a consistent brand image, and using that image to tell your story your way.
So, how do you go about creating a strong personal brand? Here are eight quick but highly critical tips for defining your personal brand.
1. Have a Unique Brand Name
For some of you, you may feel this step has already passed you by because you’ve been in business for a while and already operate under a brand name. I agree. Don’t, under any circumstances go and change your name just because you suddenly aren’t sure your brand’s name isn’t unique enough. Chances are your name is somewhat unique simply because you did some due diligence when you started and made sure there wasn’t another business in operation with a similar name. In fact, it’s highly likely that when you filled out your paperwork to file your DBA with your county or state that you were required by law to submit a unique business name.
If you’re just starting out, or have determined after much analysis and study that you should change your business name, then you have the freedom to be creative. The goal in a unique name is to be memorable and descriptive. For instance, when I started Ignis Images I didn’t want to use the word photography or photographer as part of the business name. Why? Because pretty much every other photographer used those words due to the obvious, highly-descriptive nature of said word. I went with Images because it’s not a word used by everyone else and remains descriptive of what I do and the service I offer. The added bonus is that I got some alliteration with Ignis Images. Then the immediate question becomes, “Why Ignis?” That’s quickly and easily explained because ignis is the Latin word for fire, and I create warm, vibrant, light-filled images.
2. Craft a Strong Mission Statement
Now before you go and write a mission statement and then plaster it all over your marketing materials or the wall of your brick-and-mortar shopfront, let me tell you my opinion about mission statements.
A mission statement exists for you and your employees, it’s not for your customers and clients.
What do I mean? Your mission statement is a succinct verbalization of your business principles and core value proposition. A mission statement communicates who you are, what you do, how you do it, who you do it for, and why you do it. A mission statement is best communicated to your customers by living it out. Your customers will never care about your awesome mission statement if you don’t meet their needs and serve them well.
So by all means, do sit down and craft a strong mission statement that is a clear communication to yourself and your staff about who you are, what your goals are, and what you do to achieve those goals for the benefit of those you serve. Doing so puts you in a position to turn your vision into action. If you don’t know your mission, how do you ever hope to serve your customers well?
3. Write a Memorable Tagline
A tagline—unlike a mission statement—is for the benefit of your customers. It’s a quick and catchy way to grab their attention and articulate your mission, promise, and brand in a clear and concise package. Great taglines imply the benefits your customers receive from hiring you. Just make sure your tagline is true to your mission statement and doesn’t promise anything you can’t deliver.
Think about famous taglines of the past and use them as inspiration to write your own. How many of these do recognize? Do you recognize the brand name and image without being told? Some of these taglines are no longer in use, yet the odds are you recognize the company anyway. That’s the power of a memorable, repeatable tagline.
- The happiest place on earth.
- Finger Lickin’ Good.
- Because I’m worth it.
- Have it your way.
- When you care enough to send the very best.
- Good to the last drop.
- Can you hear me now?
4. Design a Recognizable Logo
If you’re an established business, you probably already have a logo. If you don’t, now is the time to hire a designer and get one. Don’t go cheap on this since your logo will become one of your most recognizable brand assets for years to come. A bad logo can turn away business by decreasing your brand’s recognition and memorability.
Businesses that already have a logo shouldn’t change it on a whim. In my former work as a graphic designer our firm had a few clients who would change their logo and associated brand assets every year or so, thus destroying any brand recognition they had built up. The only reason to completely ditch your current logo is if it’s terrible. Even then, hire a professional designer and give them the task of trying to rework your logo before opting to create a new one. Odds are a talented designer can improve your logo and fix many of it’s problems yet retain much of the brand recognition you’ve built up over the years.
5. Have a Top-notch Website and Active Social Media Presence
These items sound like two different things, but they really go hand-in-hand. You should not attempt to launch into the modern digital marketplace without using both tools interdependently.
As with a logo, don’t go cheap on your website. Hire a professional web designer to not only make your site look great, but also set it up the back end for long-term success and stability. Sure, anyone can fire up a simple WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace site with little to no experience by using a template. But this means your site is going to be fairly generic unless you’ve got above average design chops or are willing to really dig in and learn all the intricacies and capabilities of your website platform on your own. Trust me, hiring a professional is going to save you time and money in the long run.
When it comes to social media marketing, the most important thing you can do is get active and remain active. Don’t just post willy-nilly on Facebook, but rather approach social media with intention. Where are your customers hanging out online? If you don’t know you need to find out. It’s a waste of your time to post like crazy on Facebook—even if you’re posting great content—if your target customers spend all or most of their time on Instagram or Snapchat.
6. Discover Your Brand’s Personality
Distinct from your own personality—often in subtle measure—your business has a unique personality all its own. This brand personality plays a critical role in how you connect with your clients. The key is that your brand personality needs to be authentic. Don’t attempt to portray what you think your customers want to see, but rather simply be yourself and allow your brand to shine through naturally without hesitation or apology.
Authenticity will build a better connection with customers than putting on a show. Authenticity builds relationships. Authenticity builds trust. Authenticity builds brand and brand longevity.
Knowing your brand’s personality will also help you better discover and serve your target clientele. If your business is classy yet down-to-earth and exudes modesty and sincerity, don’t expect to draw interest from trendy, extravagant party animals. You really wouldn’t want them as customers anyway. When you know your brand personality you’re better prepared to serve and thrive in that service.
7. Tell Your Story, Your Way
When you have the first five items on this list squared away, then you’re ready to control the narrative about your brand in the marketplace. When you think about it, branding is simply storytelling for the marketplace. Crafting an engaging brand means crafting an engaging story. The beauty of business branding is that you don’t have to be a writer to tell a great story, you simply need to be authentic and show the world your core value proposition in creative and expressive ways.
You’ve taken the time to be unique and figure out your brand’s personality—another distinctive trait—so use those tools to communicate who you are to your customer base. Telling your story communicates who you are to customers you’ve never met, reinforces who you are to your loyal customer base, and reminds former customers of the value you once provided.
8. Use Compelling Photography
This last tip shouldn’t come as a surprise coming from a photographer, but this last tip isn’t just part of my own marketing scheme to try and win your business. Of course, I’d love to get your business, but for the purposes of this post the real key is hiring a professional you trust.
According to Hubspot, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and does it in about one-tenth of a second. Imagine harnessing this power while building a personal connection through a visual relationship with your target customers. That’s the power of high-quality, compelling photography.
Brand photography showcases your brand—what you sell or how you serve. Personal brand photography shows the soul behind and within your business—you!—by illustrating how you get things done and showing the world the results of your hard work. How can you show you can solve your customer’s problems? What are the results they can expect from working with you? THAT is what telling your story in photographic form can do within your marketing plan.