July 13, 2015
Branding Yourself: Make Your Brand Work For You
The key to creating an identity with your customer or client base is to have an established brand. Personal branding sets businesses apart from each other by offering unique feelings or visual cues.
Today, embracing the power of the first impression is more important than ever before. The world has gone digital and people have less patience with any goods, products, or services that don’t appeal to them instantly. Your brand is what consumers see first.
Branding yourself will hopefully put some trust in your customers as well as providing a sense of ownership if you sell goods for example.
Branding Yourself is Hard
When I got my start as a designer I struggled for what seemed like years to define a personal brand. I had a name but couldn’t establish the identity. My freelance business Justalever Creative is a montage of words that I created to identify myself. The business is just me. I am the only employee and I deal directly with my clients. With that in mind I came up with the word Justalever which translates to Just Andy Leverenz.
Once I landed on the name I needed to establish an image or identity. Doing this was truly the hardest job I’ve taken on. When working on your own brand you tend to be very critical of yourself. The key is to not overthink it and like many I did.
Remember that you are the expert and you offer the service, product, or goods to consumers who put trust in you to deliver. Your brand defines that sense of trust from the start. Adding some humor or personality is always a great way to make the brand more personable. You want to build a relationship with your target marketing. Being honest and providing a quality brand is the key to success.
You are an expert. Show it off
Your brand represents you. You’ll probably want it to show your professional edge. Doing this is easy once you land on a successful brand. Sometimes design plays a role where other times something catchy plays a role. The ability for someone to remember your brand is crucial to making it timeless to consumers.
Take Coca-Cola for instance. The brand name is easy to say and very memorable. Those features are timeless and will always live through with the brand. Coca-Cola is an expert at soft drinks. They don’t stray far away from any other product in their share of the market even though they make up most of the market. It all starts somewhere and over time a brand can evolve into something bigger than ever thought possible.
Your brand can’t be a be all end all brand. Typically you will want to niche out your goods or services to be higher up on the chain in a particular market. Use your expertise to make your company or brand stand apart from the rest.
Gaining Presence The Right Way
Your brand can't evolve until it sees the light of day. The more organic views are the better as this allows your brand to be recognized across a wider audience. Users and customers will associate your brand with whatever they are using it for. This could be from food to services or other types of products. Marketing your brand in these specific environments will be the best way to promote your cause.
Budweiser uses a lot of different tactics to promote their beers. All of these tactics typically revolve around some sort of occasion where drinking beer is encouraged. This could be a party, event, or celebration. Setting the mood from the start is how it persuades consumers to purchase their products.
The same type of scenario applies to service-related brands. Most of the time a service is provided to solve a problem or issue a client has. Branding yourself in a way to answer the questions or problems your clients may have is a great approach to getting new customers.
Treehouse provides online learning for people looking to learn more about design and development. This service was developed for people who were looking for answers to these types of problems. The treehouse brand is now recognized as an online resource to learning new technologies we once never could. Their self-paced approach allows it's the audience to learn when and wherever they want for a monthly fee. Treehouse markets to designers and developers like myself through advertising based on what websites I visit on a day to day basis. This might differ for you based on what sites you visit, but other companies or services will likely have the same effect depending on your industry. Pay attention to the display ads on your favorite websites. These are tailored specifically to you thanks to Google.
A big FAIL in branding and advertising is to lie to your audience. No one wants to buy something they can't put a little trust into. Offer the goods and services you offer and no more than that. Your brand will be perceived negatively if you advertise falsely. If you are perceived badly there's probably a good chance your brand won't bounce back. If you are honest and provide a quality product or service then there's no reason consumers or clients won't come calling so long as you provide results.
Brands fail because of shortcomings such as providing less than they advertise. Businesses who attract customers need to be able to deliver. You can never judge a book by its cover even though there are exceptions to this rule that happen nearly every day. Consumers will judge your products without knowing anything about your brand. Make sure you are branded in such a way that lets them give you a chance before resorting to a competitor. Your brand is the first thing they see so make a good impression or at least be working to convert your customers towards a good impression.
Get feedback from those around you
Perfecting your brand comes at a cost but it's a beneficial one. Learning from mistakes is how a brand grows into a successful one. Very rarely did a company hit the nail on the head the first time they came into the market. If they did then the chances of them lasting long is extremely rare as people tend to shift focus often.
Use your peers or community as an outlet to let them provide their own input. People are always interested in helping give back as it benefits them in the long run, but you can’t always expect it to happen for free. Allowing your brand to evolve is a requirement. Your customers and users will dictate the direction you end up going. Allow them to make choices in this direction and offer incentives for doing so. Doing this will cause them to put trust in you and you in them which in the end establishes a stronger more timeless bond between both parties.
Gaining feedback can happen in a variety of ways. Polls, review systems, and social media can be great outlets to use to gain first-hand knowledge of your customers.
I’ve come across a lot of designers who offer resources that can be downloaded only after you share their website or something equivalent on a social media network. Pay With A Tweet is the exact service I’m referring to. People with resources to share get advertising while the consumer gets the resources. Keep the two-way street ideal in mind when thinking of ways to get feedback about your brand. Everyone want’s something for nothing but a simple share or incentive is an easy way to market yourself by having your customers practically do it for you. Users can opt to follow your Twitter profile and in doing so you can get in touch with anyone directly.
A poll is a simple approach that allows you to gain insight or answer a question for your consumers/customers regarding your brand’s offerings. It’s a great way to spark up some discussions as well as find out answers to key questions that can dictate your brand's future.
Developing a personal brand can be one of the most challenging tasks you’ll face for your business. Whether you’re a designer or a business owner it’s on you to establish the foundation for your brand because if you don’t someone else will and it won’t be personable to your own offerings. This will take plenty of trial and error but when you establish the brand you’ll know immediately if it’s perceived the way you were hoping. Hopefully the tips and ideas I presented above provided some insight on branding yourself. Don’t over think it!
Feature Image Source: Flickr