"Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand."
Amy Jo Martin,
Some brands are so well established that you could probably guess the brand based on a collection of their colours, a corner of their logo, or a snippet of a commercial or song associated with their brand. This type of branding success takes a damn long time to build up, but we're going to talk about a few reasons why you should be using your personal story to start building a successful strong brand for your blog and business, right now.
So, what is branding? I've pulled this snazzy definition from BusinessDictionary.com
Brand, n.: A unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer's mind. Thus, brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplaces, by standing for certain benefits and value.
Cool, good. Awesome. Now that we know what a brand is, we're going to be focusing on the why. What does developing a strong brand do for your business? How can you be authentic with your branding? As soulful creatives, bringing forth truth and passion in our brands is not an option— it's the centre of our values. While the brand can seem like a facade, it doesn't have to be. Your brand can be honestly representative of you, and of your story. We're gonna call this honest branding.
Honest branding is branding that uses visuals and words to teach your audience about your personal values and story. This might seem a bit far-fetched, but we'll get to the how in a later post. Today is all about the why. What can honest branding do for your blog and biz?
1. The Humanizing Power
Telling your story allows you to connect with your audience in a deeper way. By telling your audience your story, you're showing them what you really value, what your business values. Anyone can buy some cheap hat from Walmart, but why should they buy a hand-knit hat that costs twice as much from you? What value are they getting? Why are you unique? Who are they supporting in buying from you? Revealing a little bit of your life and your journey helps your viewers and customers connect with those values. It allows your customers to feel good about their purchase, knowing a little bit about the person/s who made it.
It's also downright inspiring. Depending on the type of service you're offering (this applies particularly to business-to-business ventures), revealing a bit of your story, especially the epic screw-ups, the slow beginning, the struggles and triumphs, can show your potential clients that they can do it to. It shows them that anyone can build up a successful business or blog with the right tools, and the right amount of determination and willingness to learn from their mistakes.
You brand is the face, the persona of your business. No matter if they see it on a business card, a billboard, a Facebook post, or on their website, just about anyone would recognize the font of Apple, Google, or Disney. We've been taught to associate these things with their company, and their brand. When we see something with their branding, we can be (mostly) sure that it is related to their company, that it's authentic. In a business landscape where everything is multi-platform, your brand is not just a shop front and a business card. Creating a strong brand will ensure that you are instantly recognizable across Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Your Blog, etc. It sets you apart from the herd, and signals to your ideal audience that this is something they know and trust.
You don't want to have to wait for a potential customer to read deeply into a social media post or some other kind of promotional content before they recognize who and where it's coming from. You want to catch their attention by triggering that recognition right away— and you do that with a strong, consistent badass brand.
Though a name brand product is not always an indicator of quality (although PC shortbread cookies are amazing), a professional brand can be. A professional, polished, well-crafted brand indicates that your product or service can most likely be trusted. Legit. It didn't just crawl out of 2002. It shows that you put time and dedication into teaching your customers about your business, and shows that you probably put this kind of care into your product and service as well.
It is certainly possible to build up a successful business with a less-than-stunning website, lumpy, clunky visuals and inconsistent branding if you've got a stellar product, great feedback, and a large back catalogue of quality content. The catch? It takes a damn long time. It relies on years of positive customer feedback which you can show to your customers to build their trust. Is this a good thing? Is this something you should have? Absolutely. I'm not talking about cutting corners here, but rather adding fuel to your vehicle by having both.
The good news? You don't even need to have top notch tech skills. You don't really even need to have any tech skills. It's all about where you choose to invest in your business. Let go of any need to micromanage to perfection and outsource the shit out of the stuff you don't excel at. Focus on the creative portion you love, and let someone who is nuts about HTML, craaaazy for PHP deal with your tech.
When in doubt, less is truly more. Just have a brief look at this website, and tell me I'm wrong.
"A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company."
Marty Neumaier, The Brand Gap
4. Build Your Business
Once your brand is well established, your brand can build your business for you, like a fully automated info-product, making you money while you sleep. A memorable brands stays with those who come into contact with it, but this must happen over and over again. Research suggests that it is somewhere between 3-8 times that a person needs to come into contact with your brand before they sign up for your service or buy your product. This can be done by direct advertising, but can also be done off-the-clock by the folks who already love your brand.
And for that my friends, your brand and your story has to be memorable. No one can refer a business they can't remember the name of, or which they can't describe. I even talk about some of the bloggers I interact with my husband enough that he could probably pick them out of a lineup— and he's not even their target audience. We do this sort of stuff way more than we think we do. Don't miss out on that chance to make contact with a potential client or reader! Make it memorable. Make your brand something that speaks to the viewer and says HEY YOU. Yeah, you: our values align with yours. We're just like you.
5. Saving Your Time
Finally, getting really consistent with your brand by building from your story up will save you so much time. It takes a lot of time to be perpetually unhappy with your font choice, with your colour choice, with your logo, your web layout— folks, that shit is exhausting. It's also a form of procrastination, of putting off the good work of your business. Getting straight with your brand will allow you to focus on what really matters here— your service, and your creative content. The heart of your business. Knowing your story and allowing your brand to truly reflect your story and your values will settle that once and for all. Having a strong brand that reflects your values > trendy, every time.
That consistent, rock-solid brand will save you time every single time you start a new blog post, begin designing a new product or service, create a cover for a blog post or an ebook, develop slides for a webinar or post to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You don't even need to think about what colours go where, which font this heading should be, and should I put a border here. You're following a formula. When your brand is strong, you simply follow your style guide and slap on the appropriate pieces. It's like having a puzzle you simply rearrange each time to form a slightly different image.