What is your brand?
One of the first questions I always ask when a new business enquiry comes in is, “Do you have a brand?” If they are a Start-Up this is usually why they’ve come to me, but sometimes if they are a small business I get a return email with a low resolution logo attached and then we have the conversation:
“Your brand is so much more than a logo,” I explain. “Your brand is in everything you do, especially when it’s your own business. Your brand’s personality and your proposition is what will make you stand out from the crowd.”
Carefully crafted marketing, websites and PR do matter but for any Start-Up or Entrepreneur the biggest way we connect is personally – meeting up, social media, emails and telephone calls create a dialogue that without even thinking about it you automatically tailor to that person. It’s not flashy and the main resource it needs to develop is your time, but for entrepreneurs doing things personally is how we attract new business and keep it.
Who is your audience?
My second question is always, “Who is your audience?” You can have the best idea ever but if it doesn’t sit well with your audience you have to park it. I remember when in my days working on government branding a newly appointed Senior Civil Servant wanted to scrap a really good brand and screate a new one just because he didn’t like the colour:
“It doesn’t really matter if your favourite colour is purple,” I explained. “It’s a waste of money and the brand has been created around what our users like and need, not our individual preferences.”
I’m happy to say Women Entrepreneurs are far more savvy – all my clients get instantly why we need to spend some time working on their brand, because campaigns come and go but your brand is with you every step of the way on your business journey.
What’s your brand uniform?
Representing your brand and connecting with your audience is a bit like putting on a uniform, you choose what will best help you connect with your audience. I wouldn’t turn up to a business meeting with a new client in my ripped jeans and with unwashed hair but I wouldn’t go to talk to a mums group in my little black LK Bennett dress and six inch heels either (they don’t fit since I had a baby anyway!)
Social media is the same, your business Twitter or Facebook account is not the same as your personal accounts. It isn’t that you aren’t being true to yourself but we all have many different parts of our personality and some we can leave hanging up in the wardrobe for another day. It’s all a question of finding the right fit: I may look longingly in the window at the latest trends from Dior I know my credit card can’t take the hit and it will be so tight I won’t be able to sit down – it’s not the right uniform for me in my business.
So here’s what you need to do to bring the right aspects of your personality to your brand.
1. Find your voice
If you don’t know what makes your business special no-one else will. It all starts with finding the right values, words and tone. As well as tone of voice and values, I like to develop one line propositions and word banks with my clients so they are never stuck for words. Never lose sight of your values, they are a useful filter not just for marketing but business decisions too.
2. Own it
If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody. Know who your audience is and where they hang out. Not everybody is going to love you, but you want to make sure you spend time developing relationships with people who get your business because it resonances with their own values, tastes and ambitions.
Take control of your online presence with stories and images that connect emotionally with your audience. Personally, I prefer quality over quantity, and I think you need to pick the channels that work for you. I love Twitter and I really enjoy chatting to people on there, I’m not just broadcasting my books or branding services.
And here’s a big free tip – your About Me page is never about you and it should not be an online CV! It’s about authentically connecting with your audience and telling your story in a way that connects with them.
Amy Beeson works one-to-one with women entrepreneurs to share her communications know-how and create brands and campaigns not just for you but with you. She also co-writes with her mum, health visitor Sarah Beeson MBE The New Arrival: heartwarming true story of a trainee nurse in 1970s London and new parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby are published by HarperCollins.
This article was originally written by Amy Beeson for The Talented Ladies Club in March 2015.