Branding your business is more than a dazzling logo and catchy tagline. It’s how people see your company, how well they’re able to grasp your message, and how they relate to you. Branding has little to do with what you care about and has everything to do with what stands out to your audience.
For branding efforts to be successful, there is a certain degree of unity and consistency across the board. The definition of branding is, “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.” This definition covers a chunk of branding, but I prefer a different definition (a much simpler one):
Branding is telling people what to expect and living up to those expectations.
It’s really that simple. If you’re on a mission to help mother’s cope with divorce, then everything you do must reflect that. Sharing a photo on social media with quotes about keeping your family together is not going to translate for your audience.
Sometimes, we can get a little side tracked and lose focus on what our customers want. Here are 10 easy, simple ways to stand out when branding your business.
1. Create a mission statement that says it all
Your mission statement is at much for you as it is for your customers. A mission statement provides clarity, helping you to craft content that is in line with the expectations you’ve set.
A good mission statement is clear and specific.
Take a look at American Express’ mission statement. It’s clear that their top priority is creating better employees for a domino effect that will trickle down to their customers.
What will help you stand out from your competition is not trying to do everything – it’s choosing to do one thing and being spectacular at it.
You make a unique footprint in your industry when you excel in one particular area and focus all your efforts on that.
2. Target individuals on social media
Most brands and businesses push automated content 80% of the time on their social media. One simple way for your business to stand out is to speak to individuals directly rather than speaking only to your mass of followers.
This is one strategy that applies to Meaningful Marketing which focuses on the individuals in your audience, instead of your entire audience as a whole.
If you’re not sure what to talk about:
- answer a question
- participate in a discussion
- engage in a Twitter chat
- compliment someone
- thank an individual
3. Start a series
A series is a great way to keep people engaged with your content when trying to build a cohesive brand or business. The amazing thing about creating a series is that you can do it over a variety of platforms. Whichever works for you! You can conduct a series of:
And so on…
A series will give people a reason to come back, to anticipate your next move and attract new customers as you go along.
4. Blend in with your competitors and focus on small changes
You would think that the key to standing out when branding your company is.. standing out. But, that’s not entirely true.
I’ve used Microsoft Word for many years. I love it and I’m loyal to it. Then, came Google Docs.
While Google Docs has many capabilities that Microsoft Word doesn’t, it still has the features I’ve become accustomed to. Their goal wasn’t to have a better word processor, but to excel in a different way – with syncing/sharing options and other bells and whistles.
Believe it or not, I use Google Docs more than Word these days.
Microsoft Word Interface
Google Docs Interface
Based on our online interests, we’ve also become accustomed to a certain “look.” If we want to find an email address, we know where to look. If we want to subscribe, we know where to check for an opt-in form.
There are some elements that are recognizable. because everyone, including your competitor, does it. And you should too.
Effectively standing out among your competition is a subtle effort, not an outlandish and confusing one.
5. Make local connections
No doubt, online marketing is taking over every other kind of marketing in terms of effectiveness.
That’s not a reason to rule out local outreach efforts.
By going to local events and making connections with the people in your area, you are solidifying your place in your industry – both online and off.
Many of those local connections will translate into online opportunities to build your brand.
6. Create lifestyle campaigns
Do you know the real reason why we love Nike? It’s not the simple slogan, “Just do it,” or the celebrities wearing their clothing and sneakers. It’s not even their incredible, high-quality products.
We love Nike because they represent an attainable lifestyle. A lifestyle that we all want – making exercise a priority and following through with the commitment to stay healthy.
If you want to surpass your competitors, then show your audience how you fit into their life.
The best way to do this is to lay out your product/service in a timeline:
- Where they are right now
- Where they want to be
- How your product/service bridges the gap
- The end result
Lifestyle campaigns work better visually – through images and promotional videos.
7. Lead your customers in one direction
Most entrepreneurs are creatives at heart. We hate (and resist) the idea of selling because we associate “sales” with words like “con,” “phoney” and “scam.”
Words that obviously, don’t apply to us.
But selling is nothing more than giving people what they want. What we call “closing the deal” translates to CTA (call to action) online.
Let’s say someone stumbles across your brand, what’s their next step?
If you can’t answer that question, then you aren’t working to lead your customers in one direction (and you should be!). Leading your customer represents you trying to make the “best case scenario” actually happen.
If someone walks into my store, the best case scenario is that they purchase something or take advantage of my current discount to buy multiple items.
With that in mind, I display the discounts front and center from the moment they walk in. I tell them about it while they’re browsing. I have it at the checkout counter while they’re purchasing. More often than not, they’ll go back and get more items to take advantage of the discount.
If someone comes across my website, the best case scenario is that they sign-up for the Sipblack newsletter. See what I did there? Whatever it is you want people to do, tell them what to do and show them how to do it.
What’s the best case scenario for your business and how are you leading your visitors to take that action? You have to hold their hand and walk them through the entire process (lest they get lost along the way).
That’s why after we sign up for a subscription we’re told to go to our inbox and confirm. Don’t we already know that? Yes, but we’re being led to do it because we may get distracted, forget, or lose interest after browsing somewhere else.
8. Hire people that fit your brand’s personality
As you go from solopreneur to entrepreneur, from freelancing to building a business, it’s important that you bring people onto the team who match your brand’s personality.
It’s important to make sure the person you’re hiring can get the job done, but it’s equally as necessary to make sure that whoever you hire matches the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.
For example, if you are hiring someone to manage your social media, they have to be able to continue to deliver the kind of content your audience has become accustomed to and respond to your followers in the manner they’ve come to expect from you.
If you’re bringing a graphic designer onto your team, they should be able to craft your graphics without you having to look over their shoulder (constantly asking for revisions) or tell them exactly what you’re looking for every single time.
Some people have the ability to adapt, learn how you work, and over time get an understanding of what you’re looking for, but realistically… who has time for that? It’s more efficient to get it right from the beginning.
9. Stop listening to the experts
Replicating strategies from the experts usually doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. That’s because for every tip you’re given, there are hundreds of other factors not taken into consideration.
When you’re cultivating a brand, you have to make the mistakes and roll with the punches. There isn’t a perfect way to do anything. The experts have authority to give advice because they tested, tweaked, and went through trial and error to find a solution that worked for them.
We all want tons of traffic, a huge email list, and an abundance of social media followers. But, what’s more important than having followers, subscribers, and visitors is having an AUDIENCE.
Audience: a group of people interested in what you’re doing and are actively paying attention to your brand.
10. Track your data
I am always singing this song and I’ll keep doing so because tracking your data is the key to staying ahead of your competitors. The only way to know what truly works for us and our brand is by analyzing the data we collect every day.
Tracking our data is the most accurate way to decide which marketing strategies will be most effective, how we can better understand what our customers want, and figure out what’s truly unique about our business (it’s not always what we think it is).
We should use our data to build on our weaknesses and exploit our strengths for a better relationship with our audience.
While these ten methods will all go a long way in branding your business and will help to differentiate you from your competition, you don’t have to choose one. These can all be done at the same time if you build a system that includes all of these strategies.
Doing it once or twice won’t do much for your business, but doing each of these consistently and professionally will lead to a tribe of loyal customers – people that just won’t shut up about you!
Have you been using any of these methods to brand your business? Tell me about it below!