Chances are, you’ve already heard about the importance of building a trusted and unique brand.
Words like “brand awareness” and “brand recognition” are often tossed around, and are synonymous with achieving success and gaining a strong foothold in your market, especially when there are thousands of other businesses competing for your customer’s attention.
That’s what this little post is all about.
Defining Your Brand Message
When it comes to maximizing your income, and establishing a strong foothold within your market, you absolutely need to build a unique and recognized brand that aligns with a clear and direct brand message.
Your brand message explains to potential customers what you have to offer, and how committed you are to providing quality and value.
It’s your job to lay the groundwork as to what you want people to know about your business and then work towards supporting that identity through demonstrating knowledge, skills and capabilities to deliver what was promised.
However, your customers will be the ones who decide what your overall brand image is based on their interactions with your business.
A well-defined, strategic brand message can build instant credibility in your niche, while helping you gain authority in your market and shape how customers perceive your business. It’s quite often the key difference between a well-structured online presence, and a faltering business that is struggling to connect with its audience.
So, how can you build a recognized brand that provides a clear message that resonates with your market?
Start by thinking about your target audience and what is most important to them. Once you’ve evaluated your niche, you will be able to position yourself so that you are directly addressing their most burning questions, concerns and needs.
To do this, you need to gather as much intelligence on your market as possible, which you can do easily just by looking at the competition.
Take things to social media and begin by evaluating social signals – which are clear indicators as to what is currently in demand, popular and selling well. The higher level of interaction, the more advertising dollars spent, and the more engagement; the better.
Knowing how to develop a strategic brand message begins by recognizing what is already successful and improving on it within your own business.
You want to become the go-to person in your niche market, the obvious choice when customers are considering who to turn to when making their purchasing decisions.
When you work towards building an unwavering presence in your market, starting with a strong foundation of trust, you’ll immediately eliminate the barriers standing in the way of you connecting with your target audience.
To do that, you need to learn as much about them as possible so that you can build a brand around what is most likely to capture their attention.
And how do you do begin? It starts with what is called a U.S.P.
What U.S.P Really Means
Let me get right down to it. USP stands for unique selling proposition (or unique selling point), and it is critical that you establish what yours will be right from the start.
Sure, those are components of your overall brand that help people identify your products and recognize you, however, a USP is far more important than that when it comes to building your customer base, and breaking through the barriers of resistance that most businesses experience when they first appear in their market.
A USP is what truly tells potential customers how you are different from the competition. It helps to align your goals with your customer’s. Your USP tells them that you can be trusted, that you have their best interests at heart, and that you fulfill all promises. And most importantly, a USP ensures you aren’t a faceless brand.
This would include key factors that differentiate a product or service from its competition, such as the lowest price, an extended, no-risk guarantee, a unique or exclusive product or offer not found anywhere else, or the first-ever product of its kind.
To start, think about what your product or service has that the competition doesn’t.
Consider ways you can highlight those differences and emphasize the benefits. Paint a clear picture as to why a prospect is making a wiser, sound decision to purchase your product instead of someone else’s.
Your USP is the driving force behind clearly illustrating value and giving potential customers a reason to purchase from you rather than the competition. That’s its one and only job.
OK, that’s it for now but if you want an expanded version of this post covering other points such as creating a powerful brand, the 4 essential elements of a killer brand, plus a handy check list, then click here and you can download a handy pdf to read whenever is convenient.
And if you want to learn more about how businesses use branding then check out this great course called B.R.A.N.D. here.
Benefits Of Branding Your Business
Almost every business has a trading name, from the solopreneur to the largest multi-national corporation but it would be fair to say that only a small minority of those businesses would have what could be classed as a brand.
Branding is the process of creating distinctive and long-lasting perceptions in the minds of consumers. A brand is a persistent, unique business identity including aspects of personality, quality, origin, liking and more.
Although most people will associate brands with big companies, even a small business can use branding techniques to great effect.
So what is branding?
Well, the basic concept of branding and identity is quite simple; it is to create a look and feel immediately identifiable and recognizable in their niche. Good branding can increase the value of the product/service that the company provides and also the company itself. A company’s identity in their marketplace can have a huge impact on their profitability.
Many people think of branding as just a company logo and/or colour scheme, but it goes much deeper than that. Your brand should be built around a core mission statement that reflects your values as an individual or company.
Having a strong brand helps you to bond with your customers and prospects providing that your brand resonates with your target audience. If your core beliefs and values as a brand are in line with your target market, this can build an incredibly powerful bond with them which shouldn’t be underestimated.
It is human nature to flock to those who reflect our own core beliefs and values, so your brand should be built around these to attract the right consumer and repel those who won’t resonate with you.
This is one of the main benefits of branding; customers and prospects are much more likely to remember your business. A strong brand name and logo/image helps to keep your company image in the mind of your potential customers.
If your business sells products that are often bought on impulse, a customer recognising your brand could mean the difference between no-sale and a sale. Even if the customer was not aware that you sell a particular product, if they trust your brand, they are likely to trust you with unfamiliar products. If a customer is happy with your products or services, a brand helps to build customer loyalty across your business.
If a business develops a strong brand this can have a knock-on effect in that they become accepted as a “player” in their niche and this in turn can build preference for their products. Think about it; when consumers are faced with choices in a store, they will typically favour a brand they have purchased before and trust. This is plain common sense as they can know exactly what to expect from their purchase. This is an important advantage if you sell products that customers purchase frequently, such as food or other household products. In that sense, a strong brand makes an important contribution to customer loyalty and, just as importantly, your profits!
If you can develop a strong brand strategy, you can become a necessity in your customers eyes. This means that you have been able to build true brand awareness and loyalty. This should be a long-term goal for any branding strategy as it will virtually guarantee your success when people start evangelising about your brand and its products or services.
At first glance this may appear to be identical to “NECESSARY” above but when it comes to desire, we are talking about positioning yourself as a desirable, even luxury, brand. A classic example here is Apple. In all honesty, Apple products are NOT truly innovative (although the iPod was when it was first launched) and yet they have raving fans (discussed in “NECESSARY” above). The differentiator here is that these raving fans are willing to pay a premium for these Apple products and this is mainly due to the fact that when the original iPod was launched it was truly innovative. This one product launch has basically enabled Apple to position itself as a desirable, luxury brand and are able to charge premium prices. This may be the ultimate goal for any business, but many will not succeed, but don’t lose hope because just be being “NECESSARY” you will have an extremely stable and profitable business.
Did you notice that the above points spelt out B.R.A.N.D?
Are there any disadvantages to branding?
Having a strong brand will almost always be a positive attribute BUT there are a couple of instances where this may work against you.
If somebody using your product or service experiences a negative event, that will inevitably become attached to the brand. For example, a massive recall or unintentionally offensive ad campaign can tarnish a company’s brand and image, and this may result in the company to needing to completely rebrand itself to recapture its place in the market. And in todays totally connected world of social media, if somebody starts bad mouthing you or your product or service, it can be devastating.
Can Become Too Common
Many brands strive to be No. 1 in the minds of consumers. Take Coca-Cola as an example; many people may request a Coke when they go to a restaurant, but this may not necessarily mean a Coca-Cola product, but any soda i.e. it has become part of the vernacular. While it is the goal of branding to become the standard, it is not the goal to become the generic term of a line of products.
Ok there you have it, branding in a nutshell.
If you want to learn more about branding, I have a free report giving you a lot more information than I have covered here. Click here to get access to the report:
If you are serious about branding your business then I urge you to watch this special video training all about branding and how it should fit into your overall business strategy. You can access the video training here:
When you are trying to establish your brand, you also need to create a mission statement that really defines your brand.
In all honesty, it is probably best to create this first so you really know and can focus on what your brand stands for.
So what is a mission statement? Well, put simply it is a short paragraph or line that tells prospects what your business is about, what you do and why you do it. This is your goal, your vision and your commitment.
From here, you will then have a more inspiring vision that you can use in order to inform your other choices – such as your choice of logo and brand name (if not using your own name as a personal brand).
Now your logo really stands for something. And when that’s the case, people can stand behind you and come into line with your ideals and become your biggest fans.
One of the jobs of us as marketers is to attract those you want to sell to and work with, BUT equally importantly, you need to repel those who don’t resonate with you or your message.
A big mistake that many new marketers make is to try to appeal to everyone but, trust me, that will make you miserable as you will be dealing with people that just don’t “get it.”
Draw a line in the sand and stake your claim. Be YOU and don’t apologise for being yourself to people who just don’t resonate with you. Just say goodbye, move on and focus on those people who DO appreciate what you have to offer them.
When you create your logo, you will be developing a symbol or a stylish way of writing your company name that you will subsequently use to represent the entirety of your brand. As you can imagine, this is an important consideration as you are going to be using that image in every piece of marketing and on every product and service you put out.
So it needs to be good. The question is; how do you make sure it is?
Brainstorming The Idea
Coming up with a killer idea is going to be the most difficult part to start with but there are a few ways you can get over that blank screen staring back at you.
The first is to look for inspiration. Create a mood board by collecting anything that gives you ideas or that you like the looks of. At the same time, draw down all the related images and symbols that you associate with your industry or niche.
The next thing you can do is to try combining that imagery in various ways alongside your company name written in various fonts. Don’t be afraid at this stage to try absolutely anything – just throw out every idea and see what sticks. You will eventually end up with a few different designs which you can then decide upon by asking around. As a rule, the simpler ones are preferable as they will prove to be more versatile ultimately.
It’s worth noting at this stage that the colors you choose are likely to affect the coloring of your website, of your products and more – so don’t choose a color that’s too garish!
Creating Your Logo
To actually create your logos, you need to use vector software, the most popular example of which is Adobe Illustrator. This software has the advantage of creating images that you can subsequently edit with ease and which you can scale to any size with no loss of quality.
You might find in future that you need to use different versions of your logo. For instance, if your logo is white and it needs to appear on a white background, then you might have to invert it or make it a light grey. Illustrator will allow you to do this quickly and easily, as will having a relatively straightforward and simple logo to begin with. Follow this advice then and you’ll be able to ensure your branding works in as many different situations as possible.
If you want to know more about branding and how it can fit into YOUR business, take a look at this FREE video here
Once you’ve created a brand for yourself, the next job is to start making that brand recognisable by creating a reputation around it that will encourage people to seek you out and to (hopefully) order more of your products and services. The idea here is to establish your brand to the point where people consider your logo and/or your name to be a ‘guarantee of quality’ so that they know they can trust you. People will then seek you out to get your opinion and at that point, selling will become a LOT easier. This is essentially how you become an authority and a thought leader for your chosen subject matter.
One of the best ways to reach this point is through content marketing. This means publishing content on your site and on other channels that will demonstrate your knowledge and gradually help you to build a name for yourself.
The mistake that a lot of bloggers and business owners make here is in thinking that they can build that name for them with just one or two posts. But in reality the ‘process’ of content marketing and of building trust is a long term strategy.
These are the steps that any blog must go through to become an authority in the eyes of any one customer…
- A visitor finds a blog post by accident and reads it, finds it valuable and entertaining. They then leave your site and give you no further thought.
- They then come across another blog post and finds it this one entertaining too. Now they might make a note of your website name/brand.
- They then find your blog a few more times and eventually come to think of you as someone they can trust on a particular subject. They may actively start to look around the rest of your site at this point and may even subscribe to your mailing list.
- In future, when they are looking for information about a given topic, they will specifically search for your website or business name along with their question because they believe they can trust your answer.
- At this point they now consider you an industry leader and if you suggest something for them to buy they will be more likely to trust your judgement and make a purchase.
As you can see, a content marketing strategy is a long process and is predicated on you delivering consistently high quality content for a long time! But it will be worth it in the long run.
If you are trying to build a personal brand in order to build trust and authority in your niche, then one way to achieve this is to get your visitors to feel as if they know you. By doing this, they will be far more likely to trust your future posts and far more likely to want to listen to you when you suggest buying a product.
Think about it: who would you be more likely to listen to your recommendations to purchase a product; a friend or an advert? Obviously it is the friend and that’s because we feel as though we know them and can trust their judgement. If you can be seen in the same way by your audience, then your suggestions will carry much more clout and your offers will be much more persuasive.
So how do you go about establishing this level of trust? Well here are a few options…
Write in the First Person
Try to write some of your messages in the first person. This is rather different to what you may have learned in school. Most schools will teach that writing in the third person is preferable for business as it sounds more professional and authoritative but the point here is that you want your readers to feel as though they know you and as though you are personally recommending something. And you can do this by writing in the first person. Use ‘I’s and ‘Me’s and generally write as though you’re talking to that person; write as if you are writing a letter to your mother!
Honesty is the best policy
And don’t just write in first person, make sure you’re being honest too. If you have concerns about a product, let your audience know; believe me, they will appreciate it. Not only does this fill in your personality but it also shows that you’re willing to ‘tell it how it is’ and boosts your integrity. The same goes for talking about issues in your personal life which has the added bonus of making you more relatable; you can be seen as a fellow traveler along the journey.
Make good use images or photos
Including images of yourself is a great way to help people feel as though they’re getting to know you. Remember that a picture paints a thousand words and it is always nice to put a face to a name. If you’re writing about the benefits of a certain exercise, then why not include an image of you performing that exercise? This is also a good way to get graphics for your site without paying the high prices charged for stock images.
Get on camera!
Why not go one step further and put yourself on camera?! If you are confident enough, then going on YouTube is a great way to reach a larger audience in a way that will leave a more lasting impression. Video is infinitely more engaging than text so if you have the confidence, go for it!