No matter how big or small your brand is, your brand identity matters — probably more than you know. 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. I had personality. My writing stood out, my personal branding created a three dimensional image of who I was as a person — and that’s awesome because that’s what branding is all about.
Developing Your Brand Image: Dos and Don’ts
Every business has to learn how to develop their brand in order to succeed. 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. Let me walk you through them.
Figure Out What Your Company Represents. There are a lot of ways to do this, from looking at your company leaders’ values to strictly sticking to the playbook designed by your marketing company. Whatever you do, think of your company like you would a person — and figure out how it fits into the niche you’re carving. 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? Whether you’re fuckers or duckers, determine who your company is and what it represents early in your branding process.
Learn Your Demographic. Even though you need to be yourself, you’ve got to also be something to your demographic. If you’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. Be yourself, but choose your demographic wisely. There’s probably room for badass black studded diapers, but you’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 Can’t Be All Things. Long ago, being in business meant being all things to all people — you were a stuffed suit with nothing in it. You can’t be that suit in today’s market — it’s a world of niches and generic has no place to fit. This is what brand identity is all about: giving your brand some personality that helps people to connect to it emotionally. 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.
Don’t Stir Shit. There’s brand personality, then there’s way over the top brand personality. A lot of people make this mistake early on in their branding efforts — so let me warn you right now about stirring shit. Don’t do it. It’s fine to discuss your preferred guitar if you’re a music shop, or your favorite kind of icing if you’re a cake shop, but for fuck’s sake, leave the bigotry, hatred and heated political issues at the door. You want to stimulate conversation, not alienate half your market.
Yes, There’s a Niche for That. Whatever it is, there’s a niche for it, I promise. Whether or not that niche is large enough to be profitable is a question you have to ask yourself as a business. You don’t want to make the mistake of painting yourself into a too-tight corner. If you’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. After all, people with liberal ideals (like equal rights) tend to seek out organic apples just like yours.
Even though there aren’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 don’t. Consistency is key, above all else. Make sure your brand identity and your company’s policies align, that your employees are trained to the corporate culture that will eventually be spun out of your brand’s identity and that all your marketing speaks to your business’s image.