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You’re not just a business owner – you’re a brand

5 minute read

florist at work

Building a brand means establishing and promoting what you stand for. I’ll look today at how you can take control of the conversation your customers are having about you to help shape your brand narrative. I’ll also be touching on personal branding and giving you some very simple tips on kickstarting your branding journey.

As an example, if you sell high quality, low energy hot tubs then what you stand for is high quality and low energy output, which may include environment and financial reasons, but you also stand for luxury, relaxation, socialising etc. The fact is you do far, far more than just sell hot tubs – you sell a lifestyle.

Branding is about staying on message. Let’s continue with the idea of selling hot tubs.

Your business claims the hot tubs you sell save energy. Let’s say you sell those hot tubs to hotels. And let’s also say you calculate the amount of money a hotel owner saves when guests use the hot tub is the same amount of cash as the hotel having 20 extra guests each year. You’re going to want to tell them – and everyone else.

Well, that’s branding…

When you buy with us, you save money on your bills.

Put simply, branding is repeating your USP again and again, but in different and unique ways, so people know you’re the go-to person for a specific service.

Control the conversation

Personal branding is also about controlling the conversation that’s happening about you online. If you don’t control what people are talking about, others can manipulate your narrative.

Each time you do something that positively reflects what your brand stands for, you should post it online.

Another example is an insurance broker who posts up long, boring statistics about sickness directly before offering a critical illness policy. Now, imagine instead this insurance broker supported a critical illness charity. They gave their time and money and posted about raising money for awareness of that disease – you’re now much more likely to pay attention. The broker is staying on-message through their branding. By posting images of themselves volunteering for a charity, they are branding themselves and controlling the conversation. And if you were to go into that insurance broker’s office, there are pictures of them on the wall finishing a sponsored run for a cancer charity.

What does all that branding do when it comes time to talk about critical illness? Well, it shows that the broker cares about the subject, and it’s very real to them. That’s much better than posting dull and depressing statistics all the time.

And you can be 100% sure that no matter what business you’re in, people will Google your name. What they find makes all the difference to your business and lifestyle.

Would you pick the mortgage broker posting photos of his days out running to raise money for cancer, or the chap telling you one in three of your family and friends are going to get critically ill?

Branding for your own success

That aside, one of the main reasons to focus on building a personal brand is to help you become successful. Building your brand is another way to build your success. And, if you enjoy social media – or at least use it in some form – then there’s no learning curve, you just post more photos and words that focus on your primary message.

The more you work on your personal message, the more chance you have for business success. But, building a brand need never feel like a job. If you’re being authentic, then you’re posting normal content that you do most days.

Here are some excellent examples of personal branding, to inspire you.

Go after the life you want with Amy Landino. Pivoting from her previous brand of Savvy Sexy Social while also changing her name after marrying, Landino used this as a chance to rebrand. By listening to what her audience were saying on social channels, Landino conducted her own market research then tested content on YouTube before transitioning her audience to the new content and branding.

Get web development help with Pascal van Gemert. This site is a great example of less being more. Rather than going tonto trying to display every trick in the book, van Gemert concisely lays out precisely what he can do with a crisp, clean aesthetic.

Travel to exotic places with Alex in Wonderland. Looking every inch the carefree traveller, Alex’s site has a homespun look rather than appearing overly slick. Heavy on the images and easily navigable, Alex taps right into the desires of her target audience, people itching to hit the road while getting paid for it.

The goal of branding and how to get started

The goal of branding is to build an online presence that reinforces what you and your business stands for. When someone Googles you, they feel like they know you, and you’re good to do business with.

Here’s how to make that happen:

  • Audit your search results
  • Clean up all content that doesn’t mesh with your brand image and remove anything that you wouldn’t want your customers to see
  • Define yourself and your personal brand
  • Build an online presence that reflects your brand and your expertise

Here are some simple pointers on how to start creating your brand and getting your message out there:

  • Tell the world who you are
  • Tell them what makes you unique in terms of the work you do
  • What’s your vision of what your personal brand stands for?
  • Why are you branding?
  • What outcome do you want?
  • Who are your audience and in what ways can you help them?

Brand yourself

There is so much to consider here so I looked at a professional service (freemium model) called Brand Yourself. You can use the free Brand Yourself search to check for anything damaging on social media profiles.

There’s a concierge service where everything is done for you, including building a website, posting content and monitoring social media. However, that service is expensive. Use the free elements of the website to help kickstart your branding efforts. Clean up anything you’re not happy with. Start afresh.

Take inspiration from the basic branding examples in this article, then search out more and see how others are branding themselves.

Sean Ogle at Location Rebel is an interesting example. The business is, beneath everything, a make money online website. But his branding is that of a world traveller living a super exciting life – ‘so if I can do it, you can do it’ etc. (that’s how that type of marketing works). Sean Ogle stands out in a sea of make money online websites, because he’s branded himself as the guy that lives the lifestyle.

Get real

Focus fully on branding and you could see your business start to pick up when customers start to build a clear idea of your USP and what you stand for.

Be authentic. Stay on message. Use real stories and control the conversation.

But, before you get started, take the time to clear up anything damaging online so you can get that message across on a clean slate.

Robin a passionate and versatile copywriter, journalist and blogger with over eight years’ experience crafting copy for some of the world’s leading brands, including Dove, Marmite, British Gas, ASDA and Thomas Cook. Robin also writes about his experiences of being a stay-at-home dad as Dandy Dad and is a regular contributor to The Guardian, GQ, and The Huffington Post.

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