Your “Brand” identifies you. It sets you apart from others. Your brand is the first opportunity to tell your customers who you are. Your brand tells the public what to expect from you. For example, for one person, the value he or she has to offer may come from age and experience. From another, the value may come from their youthful energy and willingness to take risks. There are many either/or characteristics that give people or companies value in the eyes of certain potential customers. In each case, It is highly unlikely that one person or one company would have both of these qualities at the same time. Your brand can identify which of these qualities gives you value. One company may offer high quality items that cost a bit more. Another company may offer items of acceptable quality, but at much lower cost. Your brand can indicate which to expect from you. You may have a proven success record or you may instead have a great new idea that, although not yet proven, has garnered much attention from those in the know. You may have a great deal of education or you may have a great deal of life experience instead. Your brand is a way to offer information about yourself or your company in a short-hand way.
In designing your brand, think of questions that people may have about you and your venture and then try to answer these questions by the way you brand yourself. You, of course, want to make people aware of your strong points. You want to make people aware of the qualities that set you apart from your competition. (For example, one of your strong points may be that you are multilingual. Another may be that you have had training from a well-known expert.) You cannot create an effective brand until you have asked yourself the hard questions about what you really have to offer. If your brand does not set you apart from the others, it will not be an effective brand.
Your brand not only identifies you, but it identifies the product or service you have to offer. You have to ask and answer the hard questions about your product or service as well as the hard questions about yourself. What sets your product or service apart? What are its strong qualities? What makes it appealing?
It would be wonderful (to me) if I were the only person in the world with extensive knowledge of Internet Marketing and enough writing ability to explain how it works. If that were the case, I could simply brand myself as ‘the only guy who can teach you Internet Marketing!” If I were the only one, people would flock in droves to read everything I wrote. I would soon become quite famous and tremendously successful. I would soon be able to retire completely, but would be compelled by a sense of obligation to keep studying and keep writing because the world depended upon me for it–because no one else could do it. That would be nice. I would feel very good about myself. That is not the case, however.
There are quite a few intelligent people around the world with extensive knowledge of Internet Marketing and good writing abilities. Some know a great deal more than I do. Some write much better than I do. I feel good about myself anyway. But, I know that in branding myself, I have to find something that makes me different, perhaps makes be better, than many of the others. Whether for better or worse, I know people want to know as much about me and my writing as possible before investing time in reading the things I write. Maybe I’m not what they are looking for. Maybe I am. Maybe they are looking for someone really young, comfortably proficient with all the latest urban slang, with time enough to memorize all the latest acronyms. Perhaps they want someone who follows every new market release before it is released to the public and memorizes all the hype accompanying each of these new releases. If so, they are probably not looking for me.
These readers likely do not want to invest their time in reading what I have written. Perhaps they should. I might have a lot to teach them. But, that is not what they are seeking.
I’m not so young anymore. I don’t bother to keep up with all the latest ‘urban slang’ (although I do look things up when I encounter them in something important that I want to understand). I don’t memorize acronyms until they become truly important to the field of knowledge. I follow many new product and software releases, but certainly not all of them–not even the majority of them. (Most of them I just recognize right away, given my experience, as a future bust that is not worth the time and trouble to become familiar with them.) I rarely pay attention to what I consider to be hype. I look more at what successful people are doing than what the buzz is hyping on a given day. So, on the scale of experience and wisdom versus youth and energy, I have to admit that I do not fall on the youth and energy side. I can legitimately claim to fall on the experience and wisdom side, however. Given this fact, how should I approach my branding?
I am also not the only one with wisdom and experience who writes about Internet Marketing. It narrows the numbers somewhat, but I am still not unique. I began to study the Internet extensively just as the Internet was breaking into the public consciousness–right at the time the very first Web browser was created. I was not a young man even back then. I had already been to college, worked as a marketing practitioner, gone back to law school and then practiced law for several years. Perhaps there are very few people who brought that much experience to bear on their study of the Internet–just as it emerged into the public consciousness. Perhaps there are even fewer people who, having begun studying the Internet and Internet Marketing that early in its development–and with that experience–have continued to study it in depth since. Perhaps most people who write about the Internet now grew up with it, learning it as children or teenagers. Perhaps the fact that I was already experienced in life when it came to being, yet learned it in detail regardless… and continue to study it in detail, makes me different. Perhaps this gives me a unique perspective. Given this fact, how should I approach my branding?
Although I was lucky enough to get educated well, I am from a poor family. My father was very smart, but he never had the opportunity to go to college. Through hard work, he did very well for himself for most of his life, despite his lack of education. Eventually, though, the big company for which he had worked so hard turned its back on him. He grew up believing in honestly and loyalty–and was honest and loyal–but the company for which he worked all his life was neither honest nor loyal in return. Due to my father’s experience, I have never worked for a big company. My heart always sides with independent entrepreneurs. I love to see the ‘common man’ and the ‘common woman’ succeed on their own, by taking charge of their own lives and creating their own successful businesses. As a result, I saw the Internet, when it first emerged, as potential for the working person to break out of the rut and get ahead. I found this opportunity to write exclusively for you in these courses and have focused my efforts on helping you–helping those who seek to strike out on their own as independent entrepreneurs. This is a passion for me. Given this fact, how should I approach my branding?
I could tell you even more about myself and each piece of additional information would spur more suggestions for how I should approach my branding. The deeper you drill into the facts of someone’s experience, skills, education, passions, and life choices, the more each person becomes unique. So, how deeply should you look into yourself when planning your brand design? How different do you have to be? The answer is that there is something, or some combination of things, that makes everyone unique. You should take the time to examine yourself, to drill into yourself, so to speak, until you find what makes you unique. This is what your brand should demonstrate–whatever it is that makes you unique–whatever it is that sets you apart from the others. Drill deep enough until you find what this is for you.
The same goes for your product or service. Examine it closely and honestly until you find what makes it unique. This is also what your brand should demonstrate–what it is that makes your product or service unique–whatever it is that sets it apart from the other products or services available.
You should also take into account your target market. You need to know who you are trying to reach. If there are qualities about you, even if they make you unique, that would not appeal to your target audience, it would be foolish to incorporate them into your brand. Leave these out.
I certainly have no qualities that would be unappealing to the readers of my blog (wink); but, if I did (wink again), it would not be smart to incorporate those qualities into my brand. Would that be dishonest of me? No, I don’t think so. As long as you find my blog interesting and helpful and as long as they help you succeed, you don’t need to know about some of my less attractive qualities (ahem, if I had any). It should make no difference.
You start with an honest examination of yourself, but then you select (from what you discover about yourself) only those things that will appeal most strongly to your target market. These are the things you incorporate into your brand.
You also make an honest examination of your product or service. Discover the qualities that appeal to your target market and emphasis them in your brand. Leave out the qualities that might appeal to others, but not necessarily appealing to your target market.
We’ve talked a lot about creating a brand in this blog, but we haven’t yet defined it. In its narrow sense, a “brand” (as defined by the American Marketing Association), is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” In its broader sense, a “brand” can represent any organization, project, campaign, or cause and can take many forms; including a name, sign, symbol, color scheme, slogan or any combination of a name, sign, symbol, color scheme or slogan.
Good marketing requires that you “brand” your business venture and, preferably, each campaign you launch. An effective brand requires an attention grabbing name, logo and color scheme. Your logo should incorporate, or be accompanied by, a slogan–a short sentence or phrase expressing the essence of what you have to offer.
Once you have gone through the exercises we discussed above and have determined the qualities that both make you unique and appeal to your target audience, you are now ready to:
- Choose a name that exemplifies these qualities,
- Create a concise slogan that conveys these qualities,
- Create a logo that best conveys these qualities, and
- Find a color scheme, font style, and format style that best conveys these qualities.
CHOOSING A NAME
If you are acting entirely as an individual, you can just use your own name–or, you could choose a “DBA” name. (“DBA” is an acronym for “Doing Business As.”) If you choose a DBA, you will need to pay attention to your local laws regarding business registrations. Also, you will need to be aware of Intellectual Property issues and be careful not to use a name for which someone else holds the exclusive legal rights. If you choose to form a company, you need to carefully choose the company name. You should check for available domain names as part of the process of choosing your name. It would be frustrating to choose a name and then discover that the corresponding domain name was already registered by someone else.
Your name is an essential part of your brand. Choose it carefully. From available choices, choose a name that conveys the positive qualities that make you unique and appeal to your target market. Register your domain name as soon as you decide on your name. That it is available today is no guarantee that it will still be available tomorrow.
A slogan is a short, striking, and memorable phrase that conveys an identity. A slogan is made of words, not graphics or photos (those are logos). The slogan, made of words, can be included in your logo, however.
To create the best slogan, you first have to know what you want to convey (discussed above) and then you have to give much thought to which words you want to use and how you want to use them to convey your qualities. Please allocate a great deal of time to this. Creating a slogan to be incorporated into your brand is not something that should be undertaken lightly or done in a hurry. From my experience, the best way to approach this is to first write several paragraphs describing your qualities. Use the suggestions we made above and find those qualities that truly make you unique. Then, look for shorter and shorter ways to express your qualities. Cull your several paragraphs down into a short phrase or sentence. Let the mind of the person viewing your brand do the work, you don’t have to do it for them. Just give them the key words and key clues and let them draw the picture in their mind of your best qualities.
This approach works well for more than one reason. As stated above, it is a way to shorten what you have to say down to just a few words, but, more importantly, it is good to let your potential customers draw the picture in their own minds. That way, they have less to be nit-picky about. They have less opportunity to challenge or be skeptical of what you are saying. By letting the potential customers create their own description from a few short words, they feel as though they have decided what your qualities are on their own. Psychologically, they feel that they have decided you have these good qualities, rather than that you have convinced them through debate that you have these qualities. Since this is their own decision, they will give it much more credence than if you had told them the same thing in detail. Thus, brevity is the key!
Another advantage to this approach is that you will have much of the work done for the “About” page of your Website. The many words culled out of your slogan can be used on the Web page itself on the “About” page. You need to know what you will be saying about yourself or your company on your “About” page before you design your brand. By starting with your “About” information in detail, you have the best starting point for your slogan. This is not to say that you should use your initial paragraphs verbatim on your “About” page. You will need to rewrite them a bit for the purpose they will serve in that context. But, you will have a good starting point.
In narrowing down your words, you should study the concept of “Power words.” “Power words” are words that evoke strong emotional reactions from people. If there is a power word with the same meaning as some other word you are using, you should consider using the power word instead. If there is a way to say things with power words rather than lesser impacting words, the power words may get more attention and provide better results.
Let me give you one quick example and then we will come back to this subject later. Suppose I said:
I can give independent entrepreneurs information usually only available to the marketing elite.
Now, contrast that with,
I defy the powerful marketing elite by revealing their covert, concealed information to deserving independent entrepreneurs.
The latter phrasing contains more power words. Can you tell the difference? More importantly, can you feel the difference? Be careful though. There is a danger in using power words. Too many power words signal that you are using emotional manipulation. Overuse of power words can make your brand sound cheap and manipulative. There is usually not too much danger of this in your slogan as your slogan will be very brief. In your “About” information, though, balance the use of power words so that it does not seem overdone.
There is no single list of power words. You can Google the phrase and find some examples. For the most part, “power words” is a concept that reminds you to look for powerful, emotionally evoking words rather than drab, ordinary words.
A logo is a graphic, a symbol of other design, used to express the identity of a business. Unless you are a graphic designer, or can afford to hire one, this may not come so easy. But, not to worry. A photo or a simple drawing can be used as well, if it is your original creation and does not copy the work of others and conveys your identity. For independent entrepreneurs, a photo or drawing (which can easily be made from a photo) of yourself is often used. Take a photo of yourself in a situation that demonstrates your strong qualities. If you then put a caption on the photo to express your qualities in some artful way, you will be good to go. If you do not feel that a photo of you truly expresses your best qualities (and many people feel that way), an original photo of some animal or natural object may serve even better. (For example, if you want to convey strength, a photo of a large powerful animal would work. If you want to convey speed and loftiness, a photo of a flying bird might work.) The important thing is that your logo convey what you want it to convey–your attractive qualities that will appeal to your target audience.
There are many free or very inexpensive Websites that can help you create your own logo. Just Google the phrase “free logo creator” and you will find several. There are also several graphic software programs available, many for free. The important thing to remember is that you do not just want “a professional looking logo,” you want a logo that professionally and dramatically conveys your unique qualities. The free sites and software often use stock graphics that are in the public domain. They may or may not have one that works best for you. Do not settle for something just because it looks professional. If it looks professional for anyone who might use it, it may be too generic to convey your uniqueness. Slight modifications or the addition of your unique slogan.
Everyone has a unique style. There is little I can say here to help you find your particular style other than to remind you to find it…and be true to it. Your choice of color scheme, font style, and formatting will display your style. Regardless of what your particular style may be, it is important to be consistent with it. Do not have a logo in one style, a Website with another, and business cards and stationary with yet another. This would only convey inconsistency and self-doubt about who you really are. Find the right style for you and be consistent with it throughout your marketing.
Effective Branding which is the first of the five (5) goals of effective traffic building. We explained that a “Brand” is a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” We encouraged you to take time and effort to examine yourself and your business goals and discover those qualities that made you unique. We then explained how to incorporate those qualities into a brand that effectively conveys what makes you different than your competitors. You learned that a brand requires a name, a slogan, a logo, and a style. You learned some tips for creating a brand that will make you stand out, conveying your strongest qualities, and creating appeal to your target audience.