There's a lot of noise about what marketing is and isn't these days. "It's your logo" he says. "It's your tagline" she says. "It's your customer experience" they say. But all that chitter-chatter doesn't really help YOU work out how to create a brand now, does it?
So I thought I'd outline my 3 Key Rules of Creating a Brand for you, to help you understand how building a brand (not just a business) will help you gain and retain respect in the eyes of your customers.
Ted Matthew's (who's been a brand consultant for the likes of General Electrical, Energiser, HMV & Canon) the author of 'Brand: It ain't the logo' states there are three rules of branding, with the most important being consistency.
Consistency refers primarily to your messaging and what values you are sharing with your potential clients on all platforms. Anything from how your customer first experiences your website, to your social media posts, to what content you blog about all need to come from a place of consistently portraying your key messages and sharing your values.
Consider the four key values of your business - for example mine are:
- To Inspire women to build a fruitful business
- To Empower them to confidently own their purpose
- To Educate them on how to share their vision
- To Support them in becoming aligned and working in-tune with their business goals
Now take a look at the last 4 social media posts you shared, or last 4 blog posts you wrote. Do they fall into one (or more) of your own value areas?
Ted also considers management and time to be the two others rules of branding, and I'm not one to argue with an expert of his calibre. However, I feel these are more important elements to focus on for 'big business' than service based businesses. When you're running a service based business, chances are that you're going to be much more in control of your brand messaging than a big company is. That being said, it's still important to remember that consistency across all levels of your business in delivering a customer experience and sharing your brand values is crucial - from the person answering customer enquiries, to the copy on your about page. So if you're considering outsourcing some of these tasks - be sure that whoever you hire is on board with how to portray your brand messages consistently.
Here's a few extra tips on how to create consistency:
Social Media: develop hashtag campaigns that are used throughout your marketing efforts, so that they become synonymous with your business. For example Renegade Collective mag use #collectivehub
Visual Branding: create a brand style guide ensuring that you're always using the same fonts and exact match of colours so that no matter what type of marketing materials you're creating - it'll be recognisably yours!
Use your words: Write down the words that are synonymous with you and your business values and use them ALWAYS. NO EXCUSES! For example, if you're a holistic wellness mentor, every time you mention the word wellness it should be proceeded by the word 'holistic' - because that's the VALUE you're trying to instil in your audiences mind.
The CEO of amazon.com once said "Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product". In the current market, you can't afford to be unremarkable.
So what does it mean to be remarkable?
1. notably or conspicuously unusual; extraordinary: a remarkable change.
2. worthy of notice or attention.
Worthy of attention. You really can't put it more simply than that. But how does this apply to you, and the services you offer?
Becoming remarkable is about delivering a nowhere else experience, giving your client something they can't help talking about to their friends and family, or even people they meet down the street. When there is something remarkable about you and your business, people want others to share what they have experienced. By result, they start to build a community around the brand by wanting others to experience it also.
When Apple brought out the iPod, they did something very simple, but very remarkable for the industry at the time. They revolutionised the way that people thought about their audio-listening devices, and changed the way we interact with technology. They made them a fashion statement.
What made the iPod remarkable, was not even really the iPod itself. Instead, by simply changing the colour of the headphones supplied with it, an Apple audio device was now instantly recognisable from all other devices. When every other headphone on the market was boringly black, Apple decided to make theirs stylishly white. This was a brilliant move on Apple's part - as they recognised that the device itself was probably tucked away somewhere in a back pocket, and that the white headphones would be an instant status symbol indicating that they were the proud owner of an Apple iPod.
"But I'm not the creator of a multi-billion-dollar tech company!" you say - and that's fair enough. But the principle is still the same. What, in your own industry, is taken as the status quo for how things are done? How can you shake that up and create a remarkable product. Maybe you're a health therapist that offers a shopping and cooking service as well, or maybe you just delight your VIP clients with extra bonuses they weren't aware of.
Here's a few extra tips on how to create remarkablity:
On-Boarding experience: from the moment your clients and customers first experience your brand, they start to get a sense of who you are and what you value. Streamlining your on-boarding process might free up some extra time in the new-client phase allowing you to weave in a free 1:1 discovery session for all new clients.
Going the extra mile: You've delivered all that was promised, and paid for, in the package your client signed up for - but what about creating some special extra bonuses that they only know about once they finish the package? It could be an e-book you've written for them, a thank-you gift or even a discount off further services with you.
Make your website user-friendly: now, I almost didn't put this one in, as I thought you might just roll your eyes at me at scream 'Well, DER!' at the computer. But I realised it really can't be stressed enough! Have some user testing done and work out how you can best guide your users through your site, educating them about the wonderful services you provide and how they can delve a little deeper.
Create real value with your opt-in: Ahhhh, the trusty opt-in, one of my very favourite things to chat about. I see it happen all over the web, service-based women entrepreneurs creating mediocre opt-ins, that only really scratch the service of the problem. It's been proven - you have to give away your knowledge (or parts of it!) in order for it to pay dividends in the back pocket of your business. Think of it this way, if your opt-in is an example to your potential clients of what you can do for them, how you work and the level of professionalism you offer, then wouldn't you want to put your best foot forward? Blow them out of the water by creating an opt-in that's worth it's weight in gold!
I get asked all the time 'how often should I write a newsletter to my subscribers', and the same can be asked in regards to social media . Whilst there's no technical wrong or right answer here, there's no perfected formula that will guarantee success, there is one fact:
"Repetition breeds familiarity. Familiarity breeds confidence. Confidence breeds success." - Stanley H. Kaplan
Ok, so they were talking about the Kaplan tests with this quote - but I think it's a pretty good rule for business. If you're consistently showing up in front of your potential clients and customers, sharing your message and providing them with valuable information - they're going to be confident that you know what you're talking about; and that my dear, is what will lead to your business success!
So if you're only blogging once a month, try and increase it to once a fortnight. If you post to social media once a week, try and increase it to a few times a week (AND, just pick one platform if this feels too daunting). Whatever you do, just try and select something that you know you can commit to doing consistently, and ensure that you maintain that frequency of contact. After all, you're building a relationship with your potential clients, and if they forget who the heck you are and what you do - you'll be re-introducing and re-introducing yourself to them over and over again.
Here's a few extra tips on how to up your frequency:
Guest Blog: Getting in front of your tribe, on a platform that's not your own, acts as a soft reminder that say "oh hey you, I'm still here - I've even been hanging out with some of the people you love to hang out with. We should totally be friends".
Schedule your content: When you're in the thick of it - helping out clients, juggling all the things that go along with making your business tick and finding some time to eat, sleep and play in there as well - it can be really easy to push blogging/social media/newsletter writing to the side for 'another day'. Scheduling your content ahead of time, or at least some of your key content on that main platform you've chosen can mean you have a little extra breathing space when things are hectic.
Attend Events - hell, even speak at them: Where do your potential clients hang out? What events do they go to? Pitch yourself to the event organiser to speak at the next event and if that doesn't work out this time, head along to the event anyway so that you can meet and greet the people that you would've been speaking to and share what you're about in-person.
Well there you have it, my 3 key rules for creating a Brand, and not just a business.
Which ones will you apply? I'd love to know your thoughts!