All this positions your brand/business in the minds of your customers – You understand exactly what you are offering, your customer understand what you are telling them or selling to them and then the visual manifestation of your brand reinforces your brand values.
So, I’m going to break this down into sections and work through each area. I’ll give some practical exercises you can do that can help you build up a thorough understanding of your brand and think about it not just in terms of colours and a logo, but on a deeper level.
You can also watch my Facebook Live video about this topic too!
Understanding your customer
Right, this may seem like basic marketing and totally unrelated to branding, but it is really important to understand who your customer is. If you are running a business and never done an exercise on your target customer now is the perfect time, but it is also essential in helping you plan your marketing…and I’ll show you how we tie this into branding shortly.
So, quite often when I talk to clients and I ask “who is your customer?”, they tell me everyone. And I cringe! When people try to target ‘everyone’ their marketing becomes scattergun, because they have no one specifically to target.
They have mixed messages, feel like they can do all the marketing, everywhere and it just doesn’t work. A message to a teenager is going to be very different to one you give someone in their 30s. A message to a woman could be very different to what you would say to a man.
By defining your target audience can really help you see the woods for the trees.
There are various ways we can think about our target customer – via a mood board, which I love doing and if you’re a visual person this is really fun. Simply writing it down or you can think about your Ideal Client Avatar.
Exercise: Get a piece of paper and I want you to really think about who your ideal customer is…not everyone, but if you had to pick one person to work with, if your ideal client was going to call your right now who would it be?
what age are they
What car do they drive
where do they live – what type of house
Are they married, do they have kids
Do they have any pets?
What job do they do?
Where do they go on holiday
What hobbies do they have?
Give them a name
So, once you’ve done this exercise, the person looking back at you is your ideal customer – it is who you want to be paying money for your services, buying your product, making enquiries. This is who you need to focus on with your marketing. Everything you do needs to be talking directly to this person.
This is just a really basic and easy task you can do to try and get you thinking about your ideal customer in a bit more depth.
Of course, there are probably different categories your customers fall into, but this is the type of customer you would love to pick up the phone right now and book you or buy your product.
When looking at marketing strategies I’d go a bit more in-depth and look at different industries, age groups, demographics etc, but again try to be specific and don’t think that everyone is your customer otherwise your messaging will be really mixed. Try to keep it focused on a few specific niches.
Key messages, USP and brand values
Our next section doesn’t look at colours/logos/fonts etc either. This time we’re going to look at key messages.
Marketing essentially is a load of messages that we give out about our business or brand…yet sometimes the messages can be really mixed up, confusing or doesn’t really differentiate you from the crowd or competitors.
I am assuming people have heard of USP – unique selling point. Do you know yours?
If you are a consultant what makes you different from the next consultant?
If you have a shop, what makes it different from the shop next door?
If you are a solicitor, what makes you different from the other firms?
Once you identify what makes you different and stand out from the crowd this again can feed into your branding and how you portray your business.
I want you to write down your business name in the middle of the page and then I want you to write down all the things that someone would say about you if you went out of the room and was talking about you and your business.
Literally write down everything that comes into your mind. Then once you’ve done that take a different coloured pen and cross out everything that could be used to describe everyone else – professional, good customer service, experienced, knowledgeable. Everything that is generic.
Now, have a look at what is left. If there is nothing left, you need to keep thinking. You should be left with words like inspiring, creative, fresh approach, do things differently, quirky, no fuss, ideas person, get a buzz.
Now take your 3 strongest words/phrases from that and these can form the basis of your messaging.
Example (these are mine):
Fun (but not funny)
Say it as it is (don’t talk in jargon)
Passion (passionate about my work and my clients)
These are the things that engages your target customer, make you different, they make you stand out, they should form the core of your brand values and the messages in all your marketing. This is what gets you seen. It is like building the foundations of your brand.
Tone of voice
Another important thing to think of is tone of voice. It is important to think about tone of voice in your marketing and branding. Let’s go back to target customer – who are they and how should you talk to them? You would talk to a CEO of a large business differently to how you would talk to a young person.
Think about how your target customer would like you to speak to them – what is appropriate?
‘Professional’ isn’t always the right tone if you want to show your fun side. Or perhaps chatty and joking around wouldn’t be right if you’re trying to win a big contract.
For example. I want to work with companies who don’t have a marketing team – I’m like their outsourced marketing manager. I want them to be able to trust me, confide in me, feel like they know me, that I’m part of the team. If you look at my marketing – on social media, the way my website is written is a great example of how I am ‘talking’ to them. (fun, no bull shit, and with passion about what I do)
So, again once you know your target customer, once you know your USP, key messages and brand values can you think about the way in which you talk to them and present these messages.
OK, so I may have blown your mind by this point and you were thinking we were going to look at logos. Well, all the things I’ve covered are like the foundations of marketing and getting your branding right.
How many of you have just plucked a colour or icon out of the air and not really thought about it? There is no shame in that at all and I’ve seen some great logos from people who have done just that. But, by exploring the things we’ve talked about takes your brand from being ‘just a logo’ to living and breathing your business.
The brand should be about what the business stands for, who you are, your personality, your values as a business person and once you have all that nailed it will shine out of your logo and branding like a big shining star. People will understand exactly who you are and what you do and it will make you stand out from the crowd.
Phew, that was a rather quick delve into the world of branding and some of the foundations of marketing. I really hope it has made you think about branding a bit more in-depth rather than just a logo or a colour you pick. It should be a visual representation of your values and ethos as a business.
I help many clients with their branding check out my portfolio to see some examples of my work.