Branding Beyond the Visuals: Creating an Epic Brand
What do you think of when you hear the word branding? If you're like many business owners, you close your eyes and a Pinterest board filled with colors, fonts, patterns, and logos comes to mind. While those are all valid answers they're not the only (or most important!) components to focus on. Here are the branding basics that you can't afford to miss!
If you want to be known for your killer branding, you need to go beyond the visuals. While the design aspect of your brand is important you need to nail your voice, your mission, and your consistency.
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Finding Your Voice
Copywriting is key if you want to attract your ideal clients and get them to drink your Kool-Aid. Nothing makes me feel better than when someone who I would consider an ideal client contacts me after stumbling upon my website, declaring: I feel like you are the business BFF I never knew I needed, and I am dying to learn more about working with you! It makes me feel like a rockstar because it means I did a good job of attracting the right person! When the people you're trying to appeal to stalk you on social media or browse your blog, are they getting a good idea of what you're all about? Is your brand's voice in line with the vibes you're trying to get across?
Think about a few brands you love and think about how their copy makes you feel.
I am obsessed with Kate Spade so I'll use her as an example! Her branding is always clear and it never changes. It's a perfect mixture of sophisticated and flirty, with a little sprinkle of rose gold glitter and girl next door charm. Check out the voice on Kate Spade's homepage:
Now, check out a brand doing something completely different. I'm going with Hot Topic. They give off more of a gothic vibe. They are trying to appeal to someone who loves a good sale and is all over Suicide Squad (I have no idea what that even is. I'm just going off of what their home page's voice conveys!):
Just by reading the copy on the home page of these two brands, you can clearly tell they're targeting completely different customers. Their copy is either going to resonate strongly with someone or not at all.
Think about your ideal clients and consider what kind of copywriting would captivate them. Should you sound super professional and intellectual? Swear like a sailor? Come across as budget minded? What kind of style would the people you want to appeal to relate to?
Whatever voice you decide is best, stick with it! When you confuse people you lose them so be sure you're not bouncing around and using conflicting voices in different blog posts and pages.
Your Mission Statement
What is the cornerstone of your business? Would your audience be able to pinpoint it? Think about how you want people interacting with your brand to feel. What thoughts do you want dancing through the heads of everyone you interact with?
When it comes to my business I want everyone I talk with to feel understood, empowered, and safe. Take out all the fluff, and my business boils down to making women feel confident and capable of achieving their dreams. I want them to see me as their business BFF. Someone they know, like, and trust. So I do everything in my power to ensure I'm consistently providing service that is centered around those feelings. I respond thoughtfully to emails and social media comments. I happily chat with women who will probably never become clients; I always want business owners who interact with me on any level to feel warm, fuzzy, and valued.
Write down a mission statement of sorts. Touch upon what your values and goals are and detail how you want people to feel. What do you hope people say behind your back?
Once you've laid out your mission, list ways you can bring on the wow factor! How can you make your target audience feel special? In what ways could you go the extra mile? Perhaps you work with clients, send them old fashioned thank you notes! Make note of their birthday in your planner and drop them a line on their special day, even if it's been six months since you worked with them. Take the time to get to know them as a person, not just as someone who is helping to pad your bank account. If you're a blogger, what can you do to excite your readers? Perhaps you create a freebie they'd go crazy over or you host some sort of ultra fabulous giveaway.
Regardless of what your business is all about, simply taking the time to interact with people who reach out to you is HUGE. It always amazes me how often I read a blog post and notice awesome comments but no responses from the author. If you're Martha Stewart, you probably don't have time to answer a zillion people who comment on your latest cheesecake recipe. But if you're a smaller business, take the time to communicate on a personal level with your readers! Same goes for social media. If someone takes the time to show you love, you gosh darn better reciprocate!
Your customer service is an intricate part of your branding. How well you handle a mistake, the grace you show, what you do to exceed expectations - THOSE are the things that will stay with people long after they've forgotten if your main font is all sans serif or hand-lettered. Aim to always keep your mission at the center, and don't rest until you're making everyone you interact with feel exactly the way you want them to!
Consistency is Key
Nothing is more confusing (and irritating!) than inconsistent branding. If you're going for a flirty fun vibe, it won't make much sense to have a black website with dark purple text. If you're going for ultra-professional, sequins and glitter everywhere just won't work.
People should be able to recognize your brand in every aspect of your business. From your social media accounts to your email signature, your flow needs to be on point.
Remember, your branding is about your target audience! Just because you love orange and camo print, doesn't mean you should put that combo all over your website. Yes, you should like what you put out there (if you don't, it can be difficult for you to feel comfortable sharing it) but the preferences of the people you want to attract is key!
Not sure where to start? Do a check and make sure your branding is consistent across all of these areas:
- Logo (sometimes a logo isn't necessary, so don't feel like you need one if it doesn't make sense!)
- Graphics (for social media, your website, blog posts, etc.)
- Images (stock images, headshots, etc.)
- Customer Service
- Marketing Materials (newsletter, business cards, ads, etc.)
- Website Theme
- Mission Statement
- Social Media Presence
- Email Signature
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Have you been factoring all of these touch points into your branding vision? How well do you think your target audience connects to your brand based on what you're currently putting out there? Let us know in the comments below!