Guest blog from the very wonderful Vicki Nicolson from Branding Therapy. I love this lady’s stuff and she is going to explore with you the 5 mistakes that you may well be making right now…
When you’re a small business and you’re working away in your little office, quite often, in your home, you sometimes under sell yourselves and don’t think you can build a fantastic and captivating brand. I’ve heard this many times, “Branding? Well, that’s what the big players do is it not?”
Let me set the record straight, branding is your whole business; from your customer service and personality to your website and logos. Branding is everything you are, how people see, hear, feel, think, read, believe, hope and wish for from you. It’s the impression you give from your logo, your videos, your fonts, your services, your products, your brochures, your content…. you get the idea.
Brand consistency is very often the thing you put to the back of your mind. You have a logo and colour palette and you’re good to go. But now what? What do you do with that logo and colour pallet and does it really matter if your logo’s blue and your images are a mish mash of puppy dogs and corporate shots with a smurf thrown in just for the hell of it?
Despite what you may have heard, being consistent is the secret which will help to grow your brand. So with this in mind here are five aspects of your branding where you might be inconsistent:
You’re Not Sticking To Your Brand Guidelines
A good designer should supply you with a full set of guidelines which should include your fonts, your CMYK (for print) colours, your RGB (for online) plus the HEX (website colours) for you to supply to your web developer. They can also include things like your mood board and helpful words and images that depict your brand. Are you sticking to your guidelines? Are you making sure your graphic designer has a copy? Remember your graphic design may not be the person who designed your branding, so if you need an ebook designed, do they know your brand colours to ensure you look ‘right’ and ‘on brand’? Brand guidelines are designed for a reason. They are designed for your reference. They are designed to help you maintain consistency. It’s also a guide for anyone in your business, like your VA for instance, to help them follow the simple rules of your brand – think of it like your Brand Bible. It will help to ensure you are consistent in your colour choices. This makes it so easy for you to pull together your memes, images and ebooks as you can import your HEX colours and fonts into Canva and Picmonkey really quickly. If you don’t have a set, pull a two page document together outlining your colours, fonts and logo on one page and on page two define your brand in a few words and pull some images together that illustrate your brand.
Thinking That Your Logo Is Your Brand
Just because you have a logo doesn’t mean you have a brand. Over time your logo will build recognition but you need to build your brand first before you become instantly recognisable. A well designed logo will make you stand out from the crowd – and identify you. Brand identity is the visual elements of your brand like signage, stationery etc, with the logo being your central visual identifiable element which helps customers discover, share and remember you. Once a logo is complete you can start building your identity, for example placing your logo on an image, adding a tagline and placing it on your FB site, blog or email is your brand identity. There will be flexible elements of your logo you can pull out to use across all your literature too, that’s where you can add your unique brand flair and develop consistency across all your marketing literature. Just remember – Don’t stretch or distort your logo. Do you know how unprofessional it looks? Ensure you scale it correctly and try to place it on everything you send out whether that be an email, social media post or meme.
Using Crappy Images To Represent Your Brand
Social media is bigger than it’s ever been and people love the new inspirational/funny/sarcastic text, quotes and photo memes. They appeal to many and if people like it, they share it, from you, increasing your visibility, and maybe even get you a few more likes! Your brand image is everything. Don’t use crappy, fuzzy, out of focus, dull, boring and irrelevant images. Instead use eye catching brand images that will enhance your brands image. Try using images that no one else is using, especially others in the same field as you. The biggest secret behind captivating your audience is to be bold and imaginative with your visual branding. It will captivate your audience and build brand loyalty.
- Use images relevant to your content. If you post a meme wishing everyone a good morning, then use sunrise/coffee/breakfast type images or even better if your brand colours are pink use a photo of someone holding a pink coffee cup or wearing pink nail polish or even better still photograph yourself in your pink dressing gown!
- Don’t use pixelated images, they just make you look bad. Take pride in your business. You provide a quality service remember, make your imagery reflect that.
- Think of the emotional connection you are trying to communicate. How do you want your customers to feel? You want to build an emotional connection with your brand, how will you communicate that?
- Make use of those filters on apps that are now readily available to brighten or sharpen – they are there to make you look good.
Not Being You
You’ve looked at competitors, you’ve watched 50 webinars, you’ve downloaded several ebooks… blah blah blah… and you’ve lost yourself. You no longer remember who you are and what to say, or how to write. Go back to basics. Write down why you started your business and what you do to help. Now imagine you meet a customer in the street, you would just be you right? Do exactly the same on social media and within your business. Find your own style by just being you, do things your way and justbe you – there’s no one else like you. Your personality, love, knowledge, skills and expertise will shine through so talk, write, think and act like your brand – if someone was to meet you for the first time, are you how they imagined you to be? My one massive tip to help you be more you in your brand is to bring yourself into it, literally. Have a professional photoshoot done and use your brand colours within your photos. If your brand logo and colours are teal then use props or wear clothes that feature your colours. Your images of you will help to build your brand and your brand loyalty so these should reflect your personality. Just be you. It’s the most attractive type of brand. There is only one of you. And even if you offer the same service and products as lots of others in your field, you have something totally different to offer – that is fact. In the words of Five Star (yes, I was a Five Star fan!) It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
Not Showing Up
So you skipped a months’ worth of posts across your social media platforms because you’ve been working away in the background pulling a programme together for a course you’re launching in a few months. Whilst you’re working away, people will be visiting your blog, your social media streams and checking you out. But you haven’t posted for 3 weeks now, you’ve not been marketing yourself and there’s no explanation as to why that is on your website. So people think you’ve gone out of business or lost interest. Not only does this look unprofessional, it makes you look like you don’t care. If you have a vision for your business and you have a big goal to achieve you must take daily action so you can move towards building a brand that you keep your people engaged and make them fall in love with. Do you expect to launch a course that no one knows you’re working on and get heaps of sign ups? Of course not. You need to always be marketing and promoting your brand in order to create excitement, build relationships and build your brand.
It’s easy for you slip up so assess your brand daily, weekly and monthly. Be hands on in your brand. It’s like an expensive hair do, it requires attention, the root regrowth needs maintenance and sometimes a completely new style is required. If you leave that hairstyle for a few months it gets out of control and it can make you feel ashamed or embarrassed. Your brand is no different. It requires hands on management so that you continue to be on your customer’s lips, minds and in their consciousness on a daily basis. Be prepared to look after your brand. Be consistent. Turn up daily. Do the work. Why do you think Nike spend so much money of advertising? It’s to remain known. It’s the same for your online biz, post every day, 2-3 times a day if need be. Mingle in groups. Get your name out there, advertise and be in it for the long haul. Just remember who you are and what you do. Speak the language of you, be consistent and build your beautiful brand.
A Little More About Vicki
Vicki Nicolson – Brand Creative
Vicki is a creative branding stylist, designing magnetic branding for women in business throughout the world. Using her power of creativity Vicki helps women stand out from the crowd by branding businesses in such a way to target desired clients and to help convert customers into paying ones.
For more information check out her very gorgeous website >> click here <<