For my fans and followers, this list may be familiar territory, but that doesn’t mean you are successfully applying the advice to your business—and, more important, the list can be a reference point to ensure you are not developing bad branding habits that will make you disappear in the sea of sameness of your industry.
Collected here are four brand tips that are essential to developing a brand that gets noticed, remembered, and shared and doesn’t just blend in with the competition.
Not included here are the metaphoric meanings of different colors (red is urgent, blue is calm, blah blah blah…) or lessons on design of any kind. Design is crucial to having an effective brand, but your visual brand is a small, albeit important piece that should come much later in the process of developing your brand as a whole (like choosing a font or determining whether your logo is text or an image), especially when you have successful servicebusiness where you are making sales person to person. Nice-looking, consistently colored brands that promise “better” results are more than a dime a dozen.
These tips address the more important question that your brand ought to answer if you want it to help you get the right clients, which is “Why you?”
1. Don’t be about “good customer service,” “having knowledge and experience in your industry,” or anything else that any client would want from any company they hire for anything .
Who is the client that is not interested in good customer service? Who sells something they don’t know a lot about or have experience in? Don’t sell what customers already expect from all services. You might as well say “trust me,” which might be the most untrustworthy statement there is. Why do you have to tell me to trust you? I wasn’t even skeptical before you said that!
2. Ignore your favorite big box brands like Nike, Apple, and Starbucks.
If you are unsure of what to say, how to look, or how to market, do not use successful global companies for inspiration! First, these are product companies, so they are not comparable (just one of the millions of differences between Apple and your IT services company). Second, you should not be emulating the ways their brands speak and operate if you are a small business or—especially—an individual selling your own services.
If you’re seeking out ideas, look toward businesses with which you have more in common. Is another creative freelancer or high-end consultant in your area or industry achieving the things you want? Whose copy, look, or attitude is inspiring or attractive to you? Break down what you like about them and what draws you to them in detail so you can actually get some useable ideas on what you could do in your own brand. Then, don’t copy them, but do find your own way of applying those ideas. If you copy them you will reek of inauthenticity.
It’s okay to look for ideas outside of yourself—after all, you’ve gotta start somewhere, but it ain’t with Apple—so forget about the big guys completely and look for inspiration in your own stratosphere.
3. Find your haters.
Most of us avoid hearing or finding negative feedback about our service, but if the way you do things is not a turnoff to at least some people, then you don’t have anything to offer (beyond the hundreds of others just like you selling a service without any style or angle). Of course, your service is not hate-able, but what could reasonable people dislike about your methods?
The trick here is not to just write off completely those who would dislike your style as jealous haters. If everything you do is an attempt to be appealing to potentially everyone (which is impossible), you will end up with a useless, stale, generic brand message and you will be forgettable and have a difficult time closing potential clients.
Finding what is unlikeable about your way of doing business is the key to finding who would love to work with you—and pay handsomely for your services—because you are speaking directly to them in their exact language.
4. Have a brand goal.
Goals are great, right? We have them for our finances, business, and relationships, so why don’t you have a goal for your brand? Why do you have a brand and what do you want to get from it?
The hard part is getting granular because—sorry to tell you—“getting more clients,” “making more money,” or “growing” are not goals. They are hopes and dreams, unless you get specific. “More money” is a hard one to reach—how much more until you’ve made it? You probably already have a vague idea in mind, so just say it out loud or better yet, write it down. Have the guts to admit to yourself what you want.
Your brand goals should be no different. If you’ve only sold by referral up to this point, maybe you want at least four potential ideal clients to call you out of the blue every month because you have a noticeable, memorable, shareable brand. Maybe you want your brand to be able to justify raising your price by 25 percent. Once you know what you’re aiming for and what your brand is supposed to be doing, you can make the right decisions on how to invest your time and money in it, and have a brand that actually works for you—not one that just looks nice or, worse, looks like all the other guys.
These brand tips are simple in theory but often difficult in practice. They require going beyond website copy and elevator pitches that sound “correct” but are actually boring and generic. They mean ignoring the opinions of others and believing in your own abilities and expertise. And they require you to get real with yourself about what you really want. But that’s the work necessary to separate yourself from competitors and the sea of sameness.
Source: Forbes.com ~ By: Pia Silva ~ Image: pixabay.com