"If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design." Dr Ralf Speth
I never knew how important branding a business was until I started my own. A couple of years ago I started creating Jewelry for myself and thought why not sell them online? It was a labour of love because working with metals is a love and hate relationship for me. So I researched my heart out and found stores like Etsy, StoreEnvy and Dawanda. Out of popular demand, I decided to go on Etsy. I’d honestly say that the first hour of setting up my site was the easiest because after that everything just went downhill!
I had to have a banner image, a logo, take photographs of the products, write descriptions. I think you get the drift. It deflated me! I kept going to other people's stores and admiring their branding while thinking to myself ‘how the hell did they do that’? How did they commit to just one logo, one banner image, the photography style?
To help you answer all these questions the easy way, I created this Branding workbook that will walk you through the basic steps it takes to bring consistency to your business.
Every week I'd have a new image, or change my logo because someone else had something similar and it looked nice. It got to the point that my desktop looked like something out of a hoarders house. Cluttered, unorganised and crying for help.
Why I told you that little story is because I didn't have a brand. I was a wondering sea turtle in a tank full of sharks. I didn't know what a brand was and how powerful it could be to a small business. There's so much competition out there that it could drown you even though your products are better or your service levels are higher.
And I'll be honest and say that I never got the traction I needed to keep my business running or stand out on social media platforms. It broke my heart because I’d gain followers today but they’d unfollow me tomorrow and I do believe it’s because I wasn't consistent with my content.
I kept comparing myself to other brands and the fact that I was trying to look more like them and less like me every day killed whatever presence I had on the interweb.
Forward a year later. Add lots of late nights and tea to the mix, I was studying why some brands connect easily with their audience and some just fail. I wanted to understand why my business failed and I got an answer. It was all about my branding or lack of it.
There are probably hundreds of reasons as to why you must brand your business (besides my sob story) but these are the 7 most important ones to me.
1 | They will remember you:
The whole point of branding your business is to create a lasting memorable impression on your audience. I’m sure some of you still remember a product from your childhood and I'd bet it’s because they had a memorable branding. It could have been a song, or an advert or just the feeling that the product gave you every time you were in contact with it.
Take an example of Nike. When I think of it, I attribute motivation and fitness to the brand and not the beautiful shoes or sportswear (which I only buy to feel fit on the inside)! Nike makes you feel good about yourself. They don’t put you down because you’re overweight, they lift you up showing you that it is possible and that yes, you can do it! That is a powerful emotional side to branding that all businesses need to adopt. You need to connect with your audience on such an emotional level that they will remember you.
2 | You will look more professional
Some businesses are guilty of think that having a funky looking logo or bright colours makes them stand out. Well, that’s true, but not in the way that they’d hoped. I truly believe that less is more. Keeping your brands visual elements simple means that they are readable. Were businesses go wrong is over complicating their logos to the point of no return. Then we have the rainbow lovers. Your colour palette should have 3 to 5 colours max and must be consistent in every part of your business. Having a simple logo with a consistent colour palette can boost your brands' awareness more than the loud and in your face options that some guilty businesses tend to gravitate to. Keep it simple and keep it classy.
3 | You build trust with your potential clients
🎶 Let's talk about trust baby!🎶 Before anyone will buy from you, they need to trust you. Trust that you’ll basically deliver what you promised. Trust that you’ll solve their problems in a professional way and that they are in safe and capable hands. Having a brand that is consistent with your website, your social media and all the way to your physical products tells the potential customer that you are reliable. Why? Because you took the time to work on your business. It’s not just a fluke or a one-time thing because you have invested your time and money on making your brand look the way it does.
One way to build trust through branding is by using your voice. You’re probably asking me ‘but I use my voice every day?!’. I know you do but that’s not what we are discussing today. Your voice is part of your brand. It’s how you say things and when you say them and why. You need to speak in a way that your potential client or even current audience can connect with you. And through that connect grows trust. They will trust you enough to bring business your way and also recommend you to other potential clients.
4 | You’re easily recognised
Brand recognition basically means that a person is able to recognise your brand just by its visual elements. You can hide your logo and most visual elements but when your audience sees something they can immediately associate it with you. The power lies in consistent branding. Keeping your photography, blog images, pins, facebook posts, twitter cards and any other visual element that you use to communicate with your audience means that the part of their brain that visually connects information will be active whenever they come across your product and that breeds familiarity. Which is a great thing for a small business.
5 | You are more efficient and consistent (productivity)
Once you're clear about who and what your brand is about, making content becomes so much easier. Believe me. No more ‘Instagram stress’ or ‘facebook worries’ because now you have everything streamlined and ready to go. You know what your client wants to hear and how they want to hear it. Planning your content now becomes a breeze and like me, you can plan even weeks in advance and automate everything. This frees up your time to deal with business and not deal with the social media madness!
6 | Opportunity and exposure
Branding your business gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded creative solopreneurs. It links back to professionalism because being able to collaborate with other like-minded businesses becomes easier if your brand can speak on your behalf. No one wants to work with someone they don’t get along with or who doesn't fit in. (Sorry but it’s true). Your brand gives that first impression and you want to make it memorable so that when you’d like to do work together, the other guys will have a much easier time saying yes cause you fit the bill.
7 | Loyal brand ambassadors
Don’t confuse them with groupies! These are readers or followers that keep coming back to your website wanting more information from you and are also willing to invest in whatever product or service that you come up with. They share your content on social media platforms and also vouch for your credibility. That's free publicity for you! You only get these type of people if you have a brand. A huge example is Oprah. She is a mega-brand. She’s been able to put herself in such a position that if today she goes broke, people will open a go-fund-me page just so she can keep living the lifestyle that she has. That's branding for you!
I know that you’re probably thinking that it’ll cost your millions to get that type of branding but believe me when I say that it can cost you next to nothing. I have created a branding guide that walks you through the 7 steps that you can take now in order to see a difference in your brand. They won’t cost you a dime nor are they time consuming. No tech is required if you're worried about that. So get the guide and implement those steps to start leveraging the benefits of having a branded business.
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