As a small business, your branding is one the most important factor to gaining awareness, driving sales and making the income you need to bring your vision to life.
So, what is branding? And why is overlooking how important it is to build a strong brand for your business, fatal to your success?
To really understand what branding is, I have put together the most comprehensive ultimate guide on the topic of how to build your brand AND why is branding important.
In this ultimate guide you will find I am not just outlining the broad topic of branding a business but highlighting the vital info you as a small business owner needs to know and if implemented correctly you will see near instant results.
You’re working hard in your service based business to complete client projects and support your customers however they need because you believe in offering that high end level of customer service you know your clients just don’t get from the corporate businesses they are used to working with.
You’ve built expert solutions and programs to help your clients solve every single problem they have, you know how good you are at what you do, you are the expert in your space and you feel really good in the job and experience you provide.
Now is your time to get noticed. It’s time for you to share your expertise, your offering and your unique way of working with the world so that your perfect clients, your ideal customers can find you with ease and you can finally make that huge positive impact you have had on your vision board since you began your journey.
To truly achieve your ultimate idea for impact you have to move away from the shackles of all the limiting beliefs around getting visible so that you can really become the leader in your space. By really understanding what branding is, you can build your brand authentically and in a way that instantly positions you as the expert you are.
Building an authentic and strongly rooted brand not only allows you to showcase the values, beliefs and ethics of your business visually, but also allows you to get clarity.
Having clarity allows you to understand how you can encompass and package all of the reasons you are so brilliant, unique and different which will help you help your clients and customers quickly and effectively. They will know you are for them as soon as you enter the room and your brand name will linger in their minds because of the clarity they feel from the work you put in creating and building your brand.
Aligning your core beliefs with your brand values will help you:
Attract your ideal customers and turn them into your loyal, raving, ever returning tribe.
Increase your social media engagement, extend your reach and get your message to the people who need to see it.
Enjoy attention from all the right people and know which of your stories you can turn into PR and media opportunities for free publicity and marketing!
Bring a regular, more consistent stream of income into your business which helps you pay the bills, outsource anywhere you’d like to recoup your time and gives you the freedom to relax without worry and overwhelm creeping in every time you look at your to do list.
Spend more time living the life you love and wanted to create for yourself when you started out in your business yet these days you thought it may be a distant dream.
So what is a brand?
For your small business, your brand is the product or service that you are known for and the distinctive identity related to it.
It is the experience you offer, the perception people have of your name and the impression you leave.
Why do you need a brand?
Branding is not only the impression your business makes on your customers, it also creates a consistency around the expectation for the experience your business provides.
What is branding?
Your branding is the way you communicate visually and vocally what your business is all about.
Visually, your brand identity communicates the core of your business and this can be with your logo, fonts, brand colours and patterns, images and graphics as well as photography and video.
Vocally your branding is communicated by the tone of voice and language you use to share your brand message.
Why do you need branding? Why is branding important?
Attracting your ideal client with your branding
Think of your branding as a shining beacon to your ideal clients and customers.
Creating a distinctive brand for your small business instantly lets your tribe know you are here just for them.
There are many different elements that make up the branding of your small business.
A common mistake I see is that small business owners think your branding starts and ends with your logo.
Newsflash - there is SO much more to building a strong brand than this.
Your logo is simply a visual representation of your branding mark. I personally think your logo needs to be created as one of the final elements of bringing your branding together.
Branding is much more than just a logo and a business card.
It is the feeling you invoke in a customer.
It is the knowing that you are the expert solution for their problem and you are reliably going to deliver your experience in a way they know to expect.
Branding is meeting expectations, it is living up to the perception YOU have created for your brand and it is the promise you never go back on.
Branding isn’t just for fun. It isn’t an enjoyable distraction exercise of updating your colour codes on your website or changing your word press theme every two minutes as the trends on Pinterest fluctuate.
Build your brand = solidify your long term business and your income!
Here are the 6 core elements you need to have in place to start on the journey of building a brand for your business:
Clarity - who are you as a business? What is it about you that you want to communicate?
Customers - who do you exist to serve? Who thinks you are awesome?
Colours - Which colour/s really represent the core of what you and your brand are all about?
Continuation - Photography / Video/ Visuals / Fonts / patterns / textures / smells / feels what experience are you creating to help your customers understand what you are all about?
Consistency - none of these elements are worth anything if you don’t bring them together consistently, show up with consistency and provide your experience in a consistent way.
Challenges - Planning, goal setting and strategically creating a map for where you are going with your brand, what you ultimately want to achieve and the stepping stones you need to take to get there.
Brand clarity - the most overlooked process for small businesses.
Branding focuses on not only the visual elements that make you unique but also the underlying foundations of what you are all about.
A brand needs to be clear on who they are and what they uniquely have to offer.
From working with hundreds of businesses in different phases of their journeys I have seen that getting this all important clarity is one of the most overlooked processes.
I am going to go through exactly what you need to know to build strong and solid foundations in your small business, so you can have the clarity you need to take your business and your branding forward.
When I work with my clients my Brand Clarity Process is really the most important process.
I have created the ultimate system to help you get complete clarity in your brand values and your business.
During the Brand Clarity Process we look at:
A) Who you are
B) What your business is
D) Customer avatar
All of these sections combined creates a thorough Brand Profile for your brand allowing you to concentrate on what really is important at the core of your business.
A Brand Profile helps compile all the keywords that will form the core of your brand identity, both visually and vocally so you can clearly communicate and express the standards of your brand.
These keywords help making decisions around:
Colours / patterns / fonts
Photography video and visuals
Language and messaging
Tone of voice.
Brand Clarity Process - Lets get clear on the building blocks for your businesses foundations.
A. Who you are
In this part of the Brand Clarity Process it is important to get an idea of who you, personally are, what is your unique personality and character and what are the stories that have brought you to where you are and keep you focused on where you want to go?
Heres some questions you can ask yourself to get to the bottom of who you are.
Exercise for Instant Results:
4 ways to figure out who you are as a small business owner.
1) Personality & Character - what are you unique personality and character traits?
How would your friends, family, colleagues describe you?
Are you always on time?
Are you that friend that everyone likes to have a moan to because they know you are a great listener?
Are you the one who stands up for their beliefs and causes close to your heart?
Are you passionate and fiery?
It can be tricky to think about all the brilliant things about ourselves. We seem to love to sit thinking of the negatives and letting self doubt cast a shadow over all the great things about us. If you find yourself doing this, don't worry! You can easily turn it around, take a look at the example below…
Maybe you are notoriously late when it comes to meeting up with friends - spending too much time thinking about your outfit or perfecting your hair or maybe even working until the moment you HAVE to get out the door.
This might seem like a negative point but lets flip it around:
You are conscientious about the projects you have in hand. You spend as much time as possible making sure things are just right.
2) What makes you unique? You are a 1 in 400 trillion chance of being born a human, that means you are truly unique.
So what is it about you that is different?
What is your superpower?
A great way to look at this is what do you bring to the party?
For example, maybe your super organised and so you are ideally placed for putting in systems into your clients businesses. Maybe you have a great creativity that you love to express with words.
3) Skills and Strengths
What are you great at?
What do you love doing?
What lights you up and what turns you off?
As with the personality questions above, it can be tricky to nail down what we are good at.
A great way to flip this question around is to consider what you DON'T like doing, even what you really can’t abide doing and write it down. Think about why you don’t like it and this will guide you to what you do truly love.
Maybe you really dislike talking to people on the phone but you LOVE face to face networking or love typing out a quick email.
Maybe you detest technology but love being outdoors.
4) Finally, a great question to ask in this “Who are you” section, is around what is important to you personally.
What are your values, thoughts and ethics?
What can you NOT compromise on because it means so much to you?
B. What your business is all about
This section is really similar to the above section but in the context of your business. It is worth asking yourself the same questions with your business at the forefront of your mind to see what answers / words / thoughts / feelings come out.
In addition at this point is is really useful to explore the story of your business, think about:
Why you went into business?
What did you want to achieve from having your very own small business?
What did you want your business to feel like?
What did it make you feel to know you were creating this?
Why are goals important when you are building a brand?
Well it's as simple as this, if you don’t know where you are going, how can you know how you are going to get there?
Think of it like this;
If you know you want to turn over £1million this year but have no idea how. Setting down the goal of turning over £1million and then working out the small stepping stones along the way is easy.
If you haven't set down a goal, be it a 1 months goal / 3 months goal / 6 months goal / 1 year goal or even a 10 year ultimate goal how can you take align and effective action?
By not setting a goal or a target for you and your business you aren't setting your stake in the sand for the impact you want to have.
Your goals do NOT have to be financial.
For example maybe you're a Virtual Assistant and you want to help 50 small businesses put in automated email responders by the end of the year.
How would you work this backwards and break it down into small and manageable steps?
The whole point of setting goals, targets or even milestones whatever feels most comfortable for you to call them is two fold:
To help you get to where you want to be, to achieve the financial success you want and/or have the ultimate impact on people's lives / the world / your industry / your family that you want.
To banish fear and overwhelm and help you always feel in control and moving forward no matter how small the step may be.
Exercise for Instant Results:
Try writing down some short term and long terms goals both for your business and for you personally.
These can be as small or as big as you want, the importance here is to start to have a target for setting your focus and intention towards.
D. Customer Profile
Ok, so I know all this ideal customer stuff seems like the same stuff everyone is telling you. And the thing you don't get is HOW to know exactly where they are.
I’d love to tell you there is an app for this - you simply pop in the type of person vaguely who you want to work with and then the app scopes the world looking for them giving you all the info you need to get your business right in front of them all of the time.
Unfortunately, to my knowledge this doesn't exist!
Identifying your ideal clients is a 2 step process and it does require some work.
But the good news is once you have done this, once you have spent the time getting this crucial part right EVERYTHING else is so much easier.
2 step process for nailing down your ideal customer:
Customer Avatar - Get to know WHO you are talking to
Market Research - Figure out WHERE they are and WHAT they are looking for
If you google “how do I work out my ideal client” you will get a wealth of advice like this article on entrepreneur https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/75648
Traditional methods for working out who your ideal client is vary from asking a few basic questions to the 100 question method.
Personally, what I have found works best is to find answers to as many questions as possible.
Knowledge is power, the more you know about your ideal client the better.
Think about all the ways you can market online now we are approaching 2020.
Social media offers us a vast amount of options for getting immediately in front of our perfect tribe BUT this is ONLY possible if we are able to target effectively and effective targeting comes from really knowing your audience.
Here is an example of some of the questions I go through with my 1-2-1 branding photography and brand coaching clients and in my flagship Stand Out Brand Accelerator Course.
How old are they?
Where do they live?
What is their occupation?
Do they have a family?
How have they educated?
Reading / travel / cooking / family / self development?
Going a little deeper:
What matters to them?
What transformation are they looking to go through?
Who are they following / obsessed with?
When I first started out in business, a mentor of mine at the time told me, “put together your survey and don’t come back until you have 100 responses!”
Market research is very important when you want to build your brand , it gives you all the insight you need to really understand what your customers want your brand to be.
No matter how much we want to build a Pinterest worthy branding identity, my branding process always comes back round to what your customers WANT your brand to be for them.
what your ideal customer wants you to be,
what they want to experience and
what problems they want solved,
you can build a strong brand that stands the test of time.
Exercise for instant results:
Put together a survey to ask potential ideal clients the most valuable questions.
You can ask:
what they are struggling with or what they would love to be sorted out so they don't have to worry anymore.
how they would like their lives to be different around this problem.
Think carefully, What is the most valuable piece of information for you right now?
Maybe you have some clients who are your perfect customer you could get some deeper info from before you float out a survey to more people.
Aim for 100 results and responses to your survey.
A great way to get survey responses without really trying is to ask people you meet face to face.
Networking / events / shows / diner out with friends - whenever you are in the presence of someone who fits your ideal client criteria float your questions and note the responses you get.
Brand positioning is the space you want to own in your market.
It is the place you want to own in your customers mind.
Positioning your brand will mean clearly communicating your differences and how you set yourself apart from your competitors.
It is the instant feeling your customer gets and the benefits you want them to think of when they think about your brand.
It is the promise you are making about the experience you offer.
The most effective way to create a brand positioning strategy will create a unique impression in the minds of your customers and at the marketplace.
We have worked through the core components of the Brand Clarity process in forming the building blocks for the foundations of a strong brand.
In this ultimate guide we have covered:
Your brand values, personality and character.
The stories and experiences that make your business unique and different.
Where you want to go with your business and the impact you want to have.
The ideal client for your business and where to find them.
The promise you are making for the experience your clients want from your business.
In answering the question; What is branding, you can use the information about why branding is important to build a strong brand for your business with your newly clarified brand values means you will experience all the real benefits of branding.
Highlight all the keywords that came from the previous exercises and see what you have.
Once you have a list of your favourites you’re ready to move onto creating your brand identity that attracts the perfect customers time and time again