The term branding gets thrown around a lot these days. It's one of those buzz words that everyone says, but many don't actually understand the meaning or purpose. So what is it? Well, simply put, it makes something recognizable. It's distinctive and memorable. Your brand is your signature. It's your first and last impression.
With more options than ever before for clients to choose from, it goes without saying that in order to achieve success, you need strong, recognizable branding that instantly gets your message across. But branding your company goes beyond catchy graphics and sans serif fonts. If you really want your business to stand out, you need to tap into what will make your customer connect with your values, your company, and your leadership.
Branding extends far beyond a logo or website design. It's a multi-faceted, time-consuming strategy that you have to actively practice day in and day out. So before you slap a logo on your LinkedIn and check 'branding' off your to-do's, here are three strategies to keep in mind to distinguish your company -- and yourself.
Identify your ideal client by focusing on your own values.
In a sea of huge, faceless corporations, you need to develop a plan of attack for reaching your target demographic. Through targeted marketing, you can focus in on the specific profile of the person who you want your ads shown to. But in order for that to be effective, you first need to determine who you are trying to reach, and that starts with examining your own value system.
When you started your business, chances are you had a decent understanding of what your work aimed to achieve and the type of people you wanted to help. Revisit this in order to clarify your goals when it comes to finding clients, and then niche down and focus on attracting those clients only through your branding and messaging.
There's no point in spending your valuable time and effort on creating an image that doesn't actually represent what you or your company care about. When you get specific about the work you do and the people you do it for, clients who relate will be drawn to you, while those who don't fit the profile can move on to find the business they do align with. You can't please everyone, so focus on those who care about the same things you do.
Invest in professional's help.
When you first get started as an entrepreneur, it can be very tempting to cut costs wherever possible. You may be able to pull off a DIY website design and logo, but will they actually communicate what you and your brand are about?
As a young entrepreneur, I wanted to focus on my work rather than invest in what I considered extras, so I decided to give the job to an emerging designer I knew who wanted to build out their portfolio. Ultimately though, I ended up paying more than I should have in the long run when I realized that I needed to pay an expert to redo my initial designs in order to really communicate what my business was about.
Branding professionals are trained in representing a company's core values through design choices. It's worthwhile to spend the time and money finding someone who understands your business and your story, and is able to express them through everything from logo design to email templates.
Show your face.
Gone are the days when you could rely solely on a professional appearance to get clients to trust you. With the rise of social media, people want to know the real person behind the corporation. While it may seem counterintuitive to shift the focus away from the work your business does, actively participating on your LinkedIn allows your audience -- and potential clients -- to connect with you on a deeper level. Not only are you putting a face to the company name, but you're also showing that you are a real person who cares about the people you work with.