No matter how big or small your brand is, your brand identity matters — probably more than you know. Â I was approached by a potential client this week and she said something that really stuck with me — she told me she chose me out of a list of copywriters because I had something no one else had. Â I had personality. Â My writing stood out, my personal branding created a three dimensional image of who I was as a person — and thatâ€™s awesome because thatâ€™s what branding is all about.
Developing Your Brand Image: Dos and Donâ€™ts
Every business has to learn how to develop their brand in order to succeed. Â Whether you borrow your idea of branding from somewhere else or make it up as you go, there are a few keys to really nailing a brand identity. Â Let me walk you through them.
Figure Out What Your Company Represents. Â There are a lot of ways to do this, from looking at your company leadersâ€™ values to strictly sticking to the playbook designed by your marketing company. Â Whatever you do, think of your company like you would a person — and figure out how it fits into the niche youâ€™re carving. Â Are you a content generation service run by a bunch of burned-out journalists or is your company united by something else, like a love of ducks? Â Whether youâ€™re fuckers or duckers, determine who your company is and what it represents early in your branding process.
Learn Your Demographic. Â Even though you need to be yourself, youâ€™ve got to also be something to your demographic. Â If youâ€™re trying to sell your products to young mothers and insist on representing your company as a hardcore badass producer of diapers, you may be off target. Â Be yourself, but choose your demographic wisely. Â Thereâ€™s probably room for badass black studded diapers, but youâ€™ll have to find the bikers, rockers and other non-conventional (and probably older) parents who want to dress their kids in leather.
Understand You Canâ€™t Be All Things. Â Long ago, being in business meant being all things to all people — you were a stuffed suit with nothing in it. Â You canâ€™t be that suit in todayâ€™s market — itâ€™s a world of niches and generic has no place to fit. Â This is what brand identity is all about: giving your brand some personality that helps people to connect to it emotionally. Â Your market wants you to be like them, or in other words, they want to be attracted to a company who represents the values and images they hold dearest.
Donâ€™t Stir Shit. Â Thereâ€™s brand personality, then thereâ€™s way over the top brand personality. Â A lot of people make this mistake early on in their branding efforts — so let me warn you right now about stirring shit. Â Donâ€™t do it. Â Itâ€™s fine to discuss your preferred guitar if youâ€™re a music shop, or your favorite kind of icing if youâ€™re a cake shop, but for fuckâ€™s sake, leave the bigotry, hatred and heated political issues at the door. Â You want to stimulate conversation, not alienate half your market.
Yes, Thereâ€™s a Niche for That. Â Whatever it is, thereâ€™s a niche for it, I promise. Â Whether or not that niche is large enough to be profitable is a question you have to ask yourself as a business. Â You donâ€™t want to make the mistake of painting yourself into a too-tight corner. Â If youâ€™ve decided to completely ignore my advice and represent your brand as a completely racist producer of organic produce, the chances are really good that your company is going to suffer. Â After all, people with liberal ideals (like equal rights) tend to seek out organic apples just like yours.
Even though there arenâ€™t any really concrete rules to developing the right brand image for your company, I can tell you from experience that there are things that work and things that donâ€™t. Â Consistency is key, above all else. Â Make sure your brand identity and your companyâ€™s policies align, that your employees are trained to the corporate culture that will eventually be spun out of your brandâ€™s identity and that all your marketing speaks to your businessâ€™s image.