Every business owner and entrepreneur wants to know how to build a brand that stands out from the crowd, gets them noticed and makes their business a success.
Last night I gave a talk all about brand building at the the University of Worcester to students and aspiring entrepreneurs about my experience of building brands.
The theme of the night was “how to be creative and still make money” and it was all about marketing, branding and selling online.
Brands are about so much more than your logo and colour scheme. Your visual branding is an important part of a successful brand, but it’s just one element.
To build a brand with impact, you need to work on the bigger picture and cover all elements in your strategy.
Historically, brands were a way of showing property (cattle brands), origin and quality (brand marks were burnt onto wine crates for trading).
Today, your brand is about your reputation, credibility and values. Your brand is your promise to your customers.
To build a brand, you need an audience. Call this your network, community or following – these people are your supporters, your advocates and eventually some will become your customers.
These are the people that will share your content, help you promote your product or service, recommend you and help you grow.
You also need a strong PR and marketing plan.
PR is about building brand awareness. It’s a great way to build your audience and demonstrate what your brand stands for. Once you’ve got a relevant audience and you’ve built rapport with them through PR, marketing is how you will tell them about your product or service and turn them into customers.
The best brands have an excellent understanding of psychology. People buy emotionally.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Logic makes people think, emotions make people act. People buy emotionally.” quote=”Logic makes people think, emotions make people act. “]
When you decide to purchase something, you’re doing so based on emotion.
Later (perhaps just seconds) you will use logic to justify the decision, but the initial decision will be made on emotions. That’s why iPhones are so popular. The technology is no better than Android models, but they have built their brand to have an emotional connection with their customers and turn them into loyal fans.
To be successful, your brand needs to connect with people on an emotional level, create a sense of belonging and evoke an emotional reaction.
You need to decide what your brand stands for.
Whether you agree with Amazon as a brand or not, this quote from Jeff Bezos illustrates what branding is all about.
Your brand is the reason why people will want to do business with you and not your competitors. Your brand needs to reflect your unique selling point (USP) and attract the right people to your business.
Amazon have built one of the most successful brands in the world – despite recent scandals over tax and ethical concerns, they continue to be one of the largest and most successful retailers because of the strength of their USP and brand, built on speed and convenience. That’s not to say it’s right – but it shows the power of brilliant branding.
When building your brand it’s important to consider what you want people to say about you, your business and your product/service, then try and reflect those qualities in your visual identity, marketing messaging and actions as a business.
When building a brand, launching a new business or promoting what you do, these are the essential questions to ask.
Who do you want to work with? This is your target audience. You need to get to know them.
What problem do they have that you can solve? This is an important question because it will form the basis of all your marketing messaging and help you make the sales.
Why are you the right person? Building your personal brand is just as important as building your business brand.
People buy from people, and they only buy from people they know, like and trust. Building your personal credibility and business relationships is an essential part of PR, marketing and sales.
Demonstrate your expertise and credibility by producing content and writing articles that establishes you as a thought leader. Although not directly promoting your product or bringing in sales, if you do this right it will attract the attention of your target audience and help them get to know, like and trust you.
Check out this article which I recently helped Daniela Degrassi, Founder of ethical fashion brand Annaborgia, publish on well-respected online platform Huffington Post to help raise awareness of her sustainable bridal range. It’s good for SEO, brand awareness, demonstrating credibility and reaching a new audience too. Read it here.
Where are they? What publications do they read? What social media platforms do they use? Where do they shop? What do they listen to? List as many places where you can find your target audience as possible, then work on getting your brand and product/service there. This will be the foundation of your marketing plan.
How will you tell them about what you do? Once you know what platforms they are on, you can build your content plan to attract them.
If they’re on YouTube, you’ll need to create video. If they read online magazines, you need to write articles. If they read the local newspaper, you’ll need to get in touch with journalists. Instagram? Take photos. Twitter? Get tweeting. It’s as simple as that.
What else are they interested in? Nobody goes on social media to be sold to. They are there to connect with family and friends. Your content as a brand needs to blend into their newsfeeds.
You need to make them want to follow you by offering content that informs, inspires, educates or entertains. Find other topics that they’re interested in (which relate to your product or service) and create content about that to attract and interest them.
How can you build a relationship with them? It takes on average 7 points of contact with a brand before customers are ready to buy. That’s because they need to know, like and trust you first.
Connect with your audience on as many platforms as possible and plan your customer journey so that you build a deeper relationship with them at each point. Make sure you’re adding value to them at every stage.
Who can help you? Who else in your audience can help share and promote your content? Which happy customers can give you reviews and testimonials to build trust? Who can recommend you? Reach out to your network to strengthen your marketing efforts.
Once you have answers to these questions, you have the basics of a marketing strategy.
There’s many different ways of presenting a marketing/sales funnel, but they all operate on the same AIDA principle:
- Start by getting the attention of your target audience (create content in the places/platforms where they are).
- Attract their interest (by talking about things they’re interested in) and start to build a relationship with them.
- Once you’ve begun to build an emotional connection, start getting them interested in how you solve their problem, and begin to create desire for your product or service.
- Finally, encourage them to take action. Convert them into a sale.
It’s important to remember that everything you do in business reflects on your brand. The best way to create a brilliant brand is to incorporate your personal brand, experience and expertise into a strategic marketing plan built using the steps outlined above.
The best brands reflect their values and ethos in everything they do. Study them, mirror them, but remain true to your own brand voice and values.
Particularly in the age of social media, your customers have just as much control over your brand as you do.
Sometimes this can scare business owners off, but if you engage in conversation, build relationships with them, build your brand effectively and put your message out clearly, you can influence them and what they say about you in a positive way.
This level of customer involvement can be extremely positive for good brands because they can harness the power of word of mouth on social media and reach even wider audiences.
Building a successful brand comes down to 3 things – PR, marketing and sales.
It takes time, consistency and patience to build a brand. Do it authentically. Don’t be tempted to buy followers or use cheap tricks to grow quicker because they won’t work and they’ll do more damage to your brand in the long run.
Building a brand can be hard work, but it’s an exciting journey that can unlock amazing opportunities! Take it step by step and invest in it every day and you’ll soon see your brand start to grow.