Think branding is all about matching colors and consistent fonts? Think again.
Brand includes all design, ideology, messages, customer perception and promises that a company projects that differentiates it from the competition.
Basically, everything your company does, from the voice in writing blog posts, to the customer service policies, to the promises that you make, all communicate who you are and who you want to be in front of your clients and customers.
Pretty graphics alone won’t cut it.
So how can you define your brand personality to make sure it’s true to your business identity?
Figure Out What You DON’T Want to Be
Maybe you don’t know who you are, but you know who you aren’t. So start there. Do research on your competition, and decide what you won’t stand for. Then be sure that in everything you do, say, post, or produce, that these forbidden traits don’t show up.
True story: this blog came about through my futile search for business advice tailored to women solo entrepreneurs that was actually helpful and didn’t include $2000 courses and made-up titles like “Dream Business Alchemist.” Seriously, I just wanted to find out how to get more clients and learn how to read a Google Analytics report. So while I write using my own casual voice my articles, you better believe there will be no vision manifesting or dream birthing foolishness here.
Be Your Own Best Customer
Most business start because there’s an opportunity to provide a product or service that fills a need that no one else is taking care of. So even if you’re providing something that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, look at ways that you can tailor your offering for a specific customer.
If you were your own client, what would you look for in a company? What’s important to you? How could a company really make your experience helpful and fun? Then create an experience that incorporates these ideals for your customers.
Talking about myself again: I wanted a web design company that made it easy for clients to get their project done. I wanted to provide flat-rate project prices (that still paid me well for my time) and a design process that educated my client on web design and development in plain English so that they had a better understanding of what was involved – and why they should pay for it. Seriously, if I had a dollar for every early client who thought web design was as easy as adding clipart in Word…
Insert Your Personality – For Better or Worse
You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Nor should you want to. So don’t be afraid to be yourself (while still being professional) when creating your brand. Are you quirky, blunt, silly, twee, shy, funny, weird? Embrace it. Reflect that in your business. Sure, you may alienate some customers, but you’ll create a stronger brand identity that will attract loyal customers.
More narcissistic rambling: Aspects of my brand that reflect my real personality: No portrait pictures (introverted), abstract watercolors (favorite artist is Helen Frankenthaler), trying-to-be-funny writing style (I used to want to be an author as a child).
Takeaway: Define Your Brand Traits
Write down – or Evernote, or Clip, or file away somewhere – (1) One thing your business won’t do (2) One thing your business really cares about, and (3) One thing your business will incorporate that is true to your personality.