Developing Your Branding Story
When we think about the important aspects of building our brand, most people will focus on Name, Logo, Identity, Colors, Marketing and Strategy. While those along with your product and services are important components to your business success it’s amazing how important the story is too. People want to buy from those that they know, like and trust, and your story is how they first feel something. A lot of businesses under estimate how important their “about us” page is, or how important the story of their why is.
To develop your story answer the question, “How did you get started, why do you do what you do and where are you going?”
Many of us think about branding in terms of logos, pictures and other graphics that are on our letterhead, business cards and websites. But today, it’s so much more than a picture. Branding is about an attitude, and a feeling that is conveyed by the story you tell consumers about your business that elicits enough feelings of trust from the buyer that they happily open their wallet and spend money on your product or service.
To properly brand your business you need to answer the following questions:
• How did you get started?
• Why did you get started?
• Who is your target audience?
• What is your product or service?
• What makes your offerings unique?
• Where do you see your business going?
Sure, you do need to choose your logo, general colors of your marketing collateral, website graphics and so forth, but it’s more important to answer the above questions ensuring that the themes you use represent accurately the above. You should be able to answer these questions effortlessly to anyone who asks. In addition, any marketing that you do should further the ideas that the answers provided. By being consistent through all your marketing efforts you will expand your brand.
What’s Your Mission?
Once you answer the questions you can then use your answers to assist you in creating a mission statement and an appropriate tag line. Your mission statement and tag line can help you define yourself even further in terms of expressing to your future customers or clients who you are and what you stand for, as well as what you do. Not only will the answers, and the resulting mission statement and tag line help your clients understand you, they will help you stick to your goals:
Knowing your mission, your reason for being, will help spread awareness about your brand to your target audience. A mission statement provides focus for every area of your business from A to Z. You have to remember that branding is a process that evolves and develops over time and consistency and persistence is an imperative component to that process. Knowing your why enough to create an effective mission statement will take your business to the next level.
Branding is about getting clear concerning your business so that you and your entire staff can be laser focused on every aspect of your company from ensuring you are marketing to your ideal client, creating products and services for your ideal client, and expressing what your business stands for to clients, contractors and employees. The mission statement is an expression of your brand, written in a clear and concise way that helps not only your customers understand your business focus but you and your business partners too.
You should be living your mission statement every single day, which will in effect promote your brand. Live your mission on social media. Live your mission on your website. Live your mission in all your marketing collateral, products and services. Yes, part of that is knowing which graphics to include that expresses your brand, but as you see branding is so much more than a picture.
Tell Your Story
Buyers love to connect with brands they trust via social media and video. They love to hear stories about not only your company but the other buyers who are using your products and services successfully. They’ll share the stories with their friends and family, thus helping expand your brand through story telling. Here’s a great example from Airbnb on YouTube:
To tell a good story you’ll need to delve deeply into your why. Why does your business exist? Why are you passionate about your product or service? If you’re not sure how to develop your story, you can use social media to distribute surveys to the customers you have that already exist if you’re collecting (and you should be) their information. In addition you can brainstorm with employees and contractors, ask them why they’re here. Ask them why they come to work each day. Also, never overlook searching the web for what people are saying about your business.
Fill out your profiles on the “About Us” area of your websites, blogs and social media. If you guest post for others ensure that your author’s bio is succinct in telling your story. Create videos or ask your clients to create videos that tell your story. Even your contractors and employers can help tell your story via their LinkedIn.com profiles, or social media profiles that mention your company and what they do for your company.
Place photos of your products or important components of customer testimonials that showcase all the positives of your services on your website and social media sites in a prominent location. People want to know what is behind the products and services in a way that shows them that you care, and that you are dedicated to solving their problems. That’s right, all successful products and services solve a problem. If you’re not sure what problem you solve, it’s time to research and figure it out.
Your blog is a terrific place to start talking about your why for being. Create posts, and ask for guests posts from service providers, contractors, employees, customers and clients that show in their words how important your why is to the world. Be open and transparent in your discussion of why you exist. If you’ve done your home work, your story will resonate with your clients and potential clients and make them proud to do business with you.
Spreading the Word on Social Media
Social media offers a tremendous opportunity to brand your business. In the old days we only had TV, Radio, Newspapers, Billboards and the cocktail party. Today, the world is truly open for businesses who see the value in using technology to expand their reach.
The best way to enjoy the advantages of what social media can offer is to realize exactly what you can do with social media. Yes, still go to local events, and live events, but never underestimate the importance of being part of the online conversation about your industry.
You can use social media to:
• Study your market
• Share important information
• Announce new products and services
• Tell people about sales
• Expand your brand
Some ways to do the above are:
Facebook — Use Facebook to build a community and participate daily. Answer questions professionally, and interact with others in your community. It’s important to give your customers a reason to talk about you. Ask them to create a videos or showcase them on a live video describing how they used your product or service and what kind of success they enjoyed due to it.
Twitter — Share new content with followers, comment on their shares, and participate in the conversation your followers are having. Share coupons, sales, brand news, answer questions, share how-to’s and interviews that you’ve done. Consumers love getting coupons and freebies, so ensure that you offer them.
Google and YouTube — While other social networks remain at the top Google+ remains a place to engage in collections and communities, share your posts, and gather the latest news from influencers in your industry. Images and video work well here — especially with YouTube’s integration where you can grow your brand audience through pre-recorded video or live video.
LinkedIn — This is a more serious business networking social network in which you can join professional groups, share your latest blog posts, and network with influencers in your niche. With the simple publishing features it is a great place to attract more visitors to your website for free.
Instagram and Pinterest — Create compelling image or video that showcase the inner workings of your brand including your products and services, and customer testimonials. This type of visual social media will expand your brand in many ways and could even go viral. Pinterest is especially important to retail businesses as well as bloggers who would like to grow their readership.
On any of the popular social media avenues today it’s possible to search keywords that describe your audience, product or service including competitors to keep up with what is happening in your industry. It doesn’t matter if you have an online business or offline business using social media to further your brand is an essential component of any branding effort today.
Before you get started take a look at your mission statement, and remind yourself of who your target audience is. Keep the same visual brand throughout all your social media networks. In fact, your online visual brand, the logos, the graphics, colors, tag lines — they should remain the same across all marketing channels.
Before joining the conversation, create full and compelling social media profiles using your other marketing collateral as a start. Don’t reinvent the wheel. You’ve already developed a brand offline, and that brand should stay the same. The idea is to expand your brand, not replace it. While your brand is more than just your photo, there is no point in confusing your audience. You want current customers who find you on social media to share you with others and they will if they recognize you immediately.
All businesses need to use social media to promote their business today. But, many business owners don’t realize that their actions on social media comprise an extension of their brand. To expand your brand it’s important to use social media in a strategic way that aligns with your core business values. How you promote your business with social media depends on what kind of business you have.
If you’re a speaker, author, life coach or your business is completely about you, you will handle your branding through social media differently than if your business is about a product or service. If you have products and services it’s important that you develop a brand for those in addition to your personal brand by creating accounts for each business component. Your @JaneSmith Twitter account should be used differently from your @ProductorServices business account.
On your personal social media accounts it’s important to be yourself and be transparent. Admitting mistakes, showing your personality, engaging with others, sharing information is important in branding yourself. On your business account you should also be a real person, share, engage your audience, and try to be compelling and interesting. However you slice it, social media is an excellent way to increase your brand.
Using social media can increase brand awareness quickly. Whether you like it or not, people will be talking about your business via social media. If you’re not invested in social media the conversation goes on without you. Not only do you want to be part of that conversation, you also want to be in control of the conversation.
In order to be in control of the conversation regardless of which social media you use, start the conversation. Create excellent content on your websites. Write excellent guest posts for other people’s websites. Share compelling information that other people have shared. Comment in a meaningful way on content that you enjoy, or even content that you disagree with. Always be respectful, but showing each audience your expertise will increase your authority, even if it’s controversial.
Never, ever delete critical information that you find, whether it’s a comment on your blog, or a complaint you discovered on Facebook. Instead, publicly deal with the comment in a professional way. Of course, delete offensive comments riddled with swear words, but don’t delete genuine critical comments or complaints. How you deal with these issues will speak volumes to your target audience who sees them.
Use social media to promote the things that your company does and is involved in. Every blog post you make, every new product you create, every new service you offer should be worthy of the same promotion as the next.
Remember, branding is more than a logo or pretty picture. It’s really about the perception your target audience has about your business’ culture. It’s a compilation of your name, logos, tagline, mission statement and the messaging that leaves your office. Without knowing your story and conveying a compelling story to the marketplace, many people will miss out on enjoying your products and services.