How you define your brand is an integral part of what makes your business successful. It’s about making connections with your target audience and using that connection to drive word-of-mouth marketing and client loyalty.
When you’re just starting out, or if your business is evolving, it can be difficult to figure out how to define your brand. Many people tend to put it off or don’t think it’s necessary to invest time or money. Of course, there are many important tasks and expenses related to growing your business. But defining your brand is incredibly important because it tells everyone—customers, employees, partners—who you are and what you stand for.
A big challenge of defining your brand is not knowing where to start. You undoubtedly want your brand to make a hefty impression like Apple or Nike, but you don’t have a timeless logo or clever slogan (or bottomless budget) to get you out of the branding gate. Or, you have a few ideas but lack the confidence you need to expand upon them and give up before making any progress. You may also be worried that you’ll get it all wrong or end up with a clumsy DIY brand that attracts all the wrong prospects into your funnel—or worse, no prospects at all. But I’m happy to share with you that defining your brand doesn’t have to be that stressful. You can start with three simple steps:
1. Determine your sweet spot in your space.
What service do you provide that you love the most? Which service is most profitable? Which is most rewarding?
I’ve spent nearly 30 years in graphic design and marketing and have created everything from logos and print collateral to social media content and websites. But strategic branding—Smart Brands that boast savvy messaging and memorable designs that connect across all touchpoints—is really what makes me come alive. The goal is to find a focus for your business that is inline with what you most enjoy doing and where you are able to provide the most value, while intersecting with the biggest opportunity for profit.
2. Identify your ideal clients.
Professional men over 50, moms on-ramping into the workforce, small businesses with less than 10 employees, wealth management consultants, or tech companies. Do you know your ideal client? What are their characteristics? Discovering and targeting a specific audience increases your opportunities to attract and connect with leads that are a fit for your business. If you know your ideal client, you’ll know exactly where to find them and can speak directly and appropriately to them in your messaging, confident that you are solving their specific problem.
So how do you identify your ideal client? A good place to start is in your book of current and past customers. Scour your records and make a list of your all-time favorite clients. They likely share your values and might approach business in a similar way as you, and as such, you wouldn’t mind socializing with them. For each favorite, describe why you like working with them—everything from “They respect what I have to say,” to “They pay me on time,” to “They are in an interesting industry.” Once you’ve made your list, analyze it for any patterns. Lots of women-owned businesses? Several tech start-ups? This is the beginning of identifying your ideal client.
3. Capitalize on your own voice.
Your inner sparkle is what makes you uniquely you (and yes, even guys have sparkle!). It’s how and why you attract some people and repel others. In business, have you ever wondered why the leaders and experts in your industry always have a special something that you don’t? It’s not because they’re better or brighter than you, it’s because they’ve allowed their inner light to shine—and they’ve branded it.
Many years ago I attended an industry event where author, artist, mentor and designer James Victoire was speaking. I had never heard of Mr. Victoire until that evening, but he said something that I will never forget:
“The things that made you weird as a kid make you great today.”
And it’s so true. Find your inner weirdness and infuse it into your brand. It can’t be copied, and it can’t be wrong. It is the foundation of your brand voice.
Defining your brand is not about picking fonts or colors, or designing a logo. Defining your brand is about establishing a reputation, messaging and voice that represent who you are as a company. Good branding helps your customers remember why they love you and what value you provide to them. And most importantly, it allows potential customers to identify with you—which makes it easier for them to decide whether or not they will buy from you.