For many entrepreneurs and those involved in starting a business, the concept of “branding” may seem daunting. What is it? What does it mean? Does it even matter?
It does matter. Branding is the creation and maintenance of a unique identity. It’s the way you differentiate from other companies and demonstrate your unique product, service, and methods. If your brand is a promise to your customer, the practice of branding is how that promise is carried out, and the resulting impression of what customers expect from you.
So, how do you go about it? Let’s look at 5 basics:
1) Be aware.
Be aware of who you are as a brand and how that is landing with your audience. While you may believe everyone can benefit from yoga and be a skillful teacher, it’s important to be aware if yogis are drawn to you because you are the experimental yoga teacher or if it is because you are the teacher who adapts every class for those with movement limitations. If you think you are the “fun” teacher, make sure those who sign up are coming because of fun classes, not because they actually come because you push them to their edge. No option is the “right” one, just understand what you represent to clients and commit to it.
2) Be consistent.
Once you are clear on who you are, be consistent with how you communicate this across all mediums. This includes logo, packaging, copywriting, website, aesthetic, and beyond. You wouldn’t expect a company promoting itself as peaceful to have a gory logo or weapons in their waiting room- it wouldn’t be consistent with their message. If you are branding yourself as peaceful, everything from the marketing snippets to how you answer the phone should support peace and be aligned.
3) Be choosy.
Once you have a brand, you need to protect it. Choose wisely who you partner with, from distribution channels, to media outlets, to employees. Where you are seen and represented leaves an impression with potential customers. An authority cited in a tabloid versus one in a leading industry journal is automatically perceived differently, so be conscious of where your brand appears and what it is being attached to. This may mean you strategically go after smaller boutiques that are aligned with your brand image, or you may choose to only go after mass distributors as that fits more with your vision and audience.
4) Be reputable.
Your reputation is very much your brand. Customers expect consistency in what they receive and how they are interacted with. People who frequent a Peet’s Coffee store choose it because they know the strength and taste of coffee they will receive. They expect their drink to be as it was from their last visit, and in the case that it isn’t, a Peet’s barista will amend the drink to be sure the quality is consistent and customer satisfied. Branding is not just an illusion or what you say you will do, but what you actually do and how you communicate with your customer all the way through. Consistently serve your customers, even in the face of mistakes or circumstances, and build your reputation and brand equity.
5) Be personal.
Personal doesn’t mean oversharing, being too familiar, or being unprofessional. It means, at the end of the day, you are a person, and people connect with people over illusions. Your patient may choose you because you shared your own health struggles, because you are also a mom, or because you have a shared interest in bocce ball. She is relating to you and is given the opportunity to when you share something personal she can connect with. Be appropriate, of course, but remember your brand comes down to the people behind it, and customers are just people, too.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, we are branding all the time. Even if you are still building your business and brand identity, your personal branding is communicating to the world who you are, what you stand for, and if that is something prospects are interested in. Think of your current branding now. What one area can you focus on right now?
How can you be?
Stella Burchard is a business coach and brand ambassador. With over a decade of experience in leading teams, growing brands, and managing relationships, her reputation is to work with integrity to deliver value to customers and brands. Her passion is of empowering independent businesses and collaborating to reach and exceed goals.
Connect with Stella online via Twitter & Instagram @StellaBurchard and at daniellelaporte.com/DML/stella-burchard/