3 steps to identify your brand
by Christie Browning
“Brand” has become a buzz word in business circles. We know our businesses have to have it. We know we need it to be spectacular. But how many of us really know how to define what our “brand” is? Do we know the fundamental components of what makes a brand great? Look at some of the most popular brands in our market. Apple, Amazon, Netflix…each of these brands have a specific vibe that is carefully crafted with a great amount of intent.
Branding is more than just graphics, color choices and design elements. It’s developing a feeling, an experience and a specific vibe that represents your business. It’s what you want your customers to experience when they encounter your business, what you emotions you want to evoke while they are in your space, and the lasting impression you want them to remember after the transaction is complete. All of those feelings, impressions and experiences is best described as “brand identity.” When brand identity is done right, it amplifies a clear, concise message about your company. When all the elements collide, you get a powerful imagery that wows your customers.
Here’s 3 steps to help you identify your brand
1) Start with who, what and why
The first step to take when identifying your brand is to think about who you are, what you want your business to be about and why you want to share this with your potential customers. This is what large corporations call a “mission statement.” You’ve probably been in a few businesses that display their mission statement in the lobby or a conference room. It defines them and it should define you!
Don’t worry, your mission statement doesn’t require a professional writer or any writing experience. It’s actually more powerful if it’s short, sweet and to the point with as much genuine, authentic feeling as you can muster. reVised Coaching’s mission statement is to provide a practical, realistic coaching community for busy entrepreneurs to help them implement methods for reaching their defined success. That’s pretty simple, straightforward and you know from reading that exactly what we are about.
A mission statement clearly defines what you are about so that you can also easily realize what you aren’t about. It’s an easy trap to get caught in…trying to be all things to all people in your business. But the truth is, you aren’t for everybody every time. If you run advertising decisions, opportunities for growth and other business decisions through your mission statement, you’ll be on a solid path to take you where you really want to go without compromising who you are, what you do and why you want to do it. Develop this and you have the heart behind your brand.
2) Amplify what makes you different
When you are trying to define and identify your brand, you need to know what makes you different from the rest. It’s true that just about everything you can think of has been done before. The old adage is true…there’s nothing new under the sun. But that doesn’t mean you give up on your business idea. No! You just need to know what you do with it that is better or different or unique. Maybe you’ve learned how to provide a service more efficiently. Maybe you’ve leverage new technology to provide better results. Maybe you’ve created a customer experience that keeps them coming back for more. These are all things that can make you different than the competition. Think about it… I can get coffee at about five different places on may way to work. Some places are faster, some are cheaper, some even offer unique flavors. But if I have my choice, I stop at a local place, owned and operated by a family in my small town. They are always willing to totally customize any drink and they take great pride in serving really great products. Now, they aren’t the fastest, they aren’t the cheapest and it’s not a name-brand that is known nationwide. But what makes them different is the individual service and for that… I sacrifice speed and savings to savor this experience.
There are other things this coffee shop does well. They have quality products and offer locally made treats and have friendly service, but it’s their individual attention to drink preparation that makes them shine. And, it’s the thing that they’ve chosen to amplify for their customers and potential customers to know and love about them.
So… what unique feature do you want to amplify? What’s the one thing you can shout from the rooftops that makes you different, makes you great, keeps people wanting more or let’s you shine a little brighter than the rest? Identify this and you’ve got the voice behind your brand.
3) Get specifics on paper
Now that you know the heart behind your brand and we’ve uncovered the voice behind your brand, it’s time to identify the visual impression of your brand. To do that we need to start by brainstorming some descriptive words that you would want associated with your company. Get pen to paper here and start jotting some things down. Use adjectives like:
Luxurious, pampering, oasis
Fun, energetic, light-hearted
Sophisticated, classy, high-end
You get the idea… so jot them down.
Once you’ve got a good list going, keep it handy. These will be some of the words you’ll use as you outline the branding for your business in three main areas: Visual Appeal, Communication Style, Emotional Impression.
The Visual Appeal of your brand is how you want your company to be presented visually — the look of it. This can include colors, images, lettering, graphics and would be used in your logo, on your website and on all your marketing materials. This tends to be the part that everyone naturally wants to start with when they think of branding. As you put together the visual appeal for your brand, you want to make sure it coincides with the adjective list you compiled. If your branding is intended to be fun and light-hearted, you should steer clear of heavy fonts and formal words. The same goes if the tables were reversed. Sophisticated, high-end brands should have classic and timeless visual elements, not fading fads and cutesy images.
The Communication Style of your business comes down to words and tones conveyed through marketing messages such as on your website, in any literature you provide, in blog posts and even the way you choose to answer the phone! Go back to your adjective list. What descriptive words do you see there that can help you identify the types of verbiage that best defines your brand? I tend to tell a lot of jokes and have a lot of laughs when it comes to our coaching group. It’s because I have created a brand that is real and authentic and not always polished and perfect. Therefore, I can laugh at myself and get real about my struggles as a business woman because it goes along with my branding. If I created a website that mirrors some elite coach with perfect business plans and high-end coaching packages, that would completely clash with what my branding message is… and it would totally clash with who I am as a person.
The Emotional Impression of your brand is the feeling you want your customers to get when they encounter you and your business. You are creating a specific experience for your customers, even if you are an online business. That emotional impression is what lingers on long after the transaction is done and it is more likely what is shared with a friend when that customer talks about you and their experience with you. Think of Cadillac. Their commercials are sleek and luxurious and the people in them are down right fancy. They step out onto slick pavement to waltz into a five-star restaurant with designer heels on. They are beautiful people with perfectly white smiles and done-up hair. Therefore, when you go to the dealership to look at a Cadillac, you are greeted by well-dressed sales professionals who are there to extend the luxury experience. They don’t play loud club music or host weenie wagons at their lot. They don’t have push, cheesy commercials or sales people. The brand lives not just through the markings on the automobiles, but in the entire experience.
If you need help defining the emotional impression of your business, ask your customers. It’s truly their experience that defines you. You may want them to feel happy, but if the experience is making them feel overwhelmed….well, that’s the emotional impression they are getting. It’s what they actually experience that defines you, so if you can go to the source…go there!
Branding your business is just the start to building your business. To learn how to set your marketing up to share your brand successfully, sign up to receive my new marketing webinar. This will give you some very specific things to focus on each day, week, month and quarter for growing your business. Get instant access here: