In a quick Google search of “Branding a Business” there are over 16 MILLION results. “Personal Branding” returns over 14 million. Clearly, branding is big business and a hot topic in the online business and marketing space.
I’ve been playing with revising Entwine’s branding since I didn’t really do much branding at all when I started out. I picked some colors, chose a few fonts, built a website, and bam, done! But had I really “branded” my business?
So, what is branding, exactly?
It took lots of reading, conversation, reflection, some meditation, and an aha moment in the shower for me to drill this down in a way that makes sense.
Your brand is your PERSONALITY conveyed VISUALLY in a consistent and AUTHENTIC way across all platforms.
This includes your website, social media pages, social media posts, email signature, PDF’s, videos, and anywhere else you create/add content for your business.
This doesn’t mean you just plaster your logo everywhere. It means that the images you use, the words you write, the fonts you choose, and yes, your logo, convey your personality.
For example, I design websites. During this process with both my coaching and custom design clients, we go through the entire brand, copywriting, and design process. This is WHAT I do.
HOW I do this is conveyed through my brand.
Is establishing a personal brand really that important?
Yep. It is. For me, marketing can be a challenge. Putting myself out there is not the easiest thing for me to do, BUT with a solid understanding of my brand, it’s easier because my brand IS authentically me (or it will be when I finish my re-branding process!)
Further, research shows that a strong brand absolutely supports a business’ marketing efforts. One study that looked at the personal brands in small to medium sized business concluded that the owner of a small business is KEY to marketing efforts “through their ability to stamp a personal ‘brand’ onto their business and differentiate themselves from others.”
This study brings up an interesting point. Differentiating yourself from the thousands of other businesses out there is crucial to your success. In a 2013 Forbes article, around “543,000 new businesses get started each month (but more employer businesses shut down than start up each month).” That’s crazy!!
And, while that stat is somewhat dated, it wouldn’t surprise me if more new businesses launch each month now than in 2013.
All told, this means that there is so much noise and competition out there that differentiating yourself through your branding is crucial.
So….we’ve defined what branding is. We’ve learned it’s crucial to your online business’ success.
The next question becomes, how to create your brand for yourself and your business?
First, remember business evolves, but if you build an authentic brand based on who you are, your values and your passions and your personality, that brand will evolve with you.
It’s okay to shift your business. If you’ve built a solid brand, it’ll go with you.
For example, who I work with, how I work with clients, and what I offer has shifted since I first started. However, my values and personality haven’t changed. I’m still creative, energetic, supportive, and love to create change and transformation. These were also my values when I taught High School. I’m still me!
Even if you’re just starting, go through this process. It will absolutely help you create a solid foundation for your brand.
Step #1: Reflect
This process starts with a lot of self-reflection. Grab a journal and respond to these prompts:
- Who are you? Describe your personality. Highlight specific personality traits that appear.
- What are your values?
- One strategy to figure out your list of values is to make two columns. In the left-hand column list as many people as you can who you admire. This might be your next-door neighbor or Oprah. It doesn’t matter. In the right hand column, list those traits that you admire about them.
- This list is a good jumping off point for your own list of values that you see in yourself.
- Tie your values to your intentions for how you live your life.
- For example, two of my values are reliable and loving. How do those appear in my life? In my personal life, I strive everyday to be a good mom, a person who my kids can rely on and who loves them unconditionally. In my business life, I set a clear intention to be reliable and fulfill my obligations with my clients as well as serve them in a loving way.
- What do you love to do?
- What do those activities say about how you like to work with and interact with others?
- Interview some dear friends or family members about what they see as your greatest strengths.
- Take a personality quiz to get some more insight into your strengths.
- Take Cerries Mooney’s Archetype Quiz for insight into your Brand Archetype. (I LOVE this one).
Now that you’ve got all of this information, it’s time to create a visual representation of it! Yikes. Depending on your values, this will be either super fun, or not.
Step #2 – Identify your key words
To start, create a list of 8-10 key words that jump out at you. Maybe they repeated themselves over and over in your journaling. I’m a creative soul, so words like inspiration, creative, intuition, and transformation appeared repeatedly. I’ve also got words like energetic (cuz I’m kinda hyper), fun, and supportive on my list.
Step #3 – Get Visual
The next step is to have fun on Pinterest. Create a new Brand Board. Find images that reflect your words. The goal here is to create a visual representation of your personality and your values. Look at images, fonts, and colors. Which ones convey the feelings you’re going for?
Remember, this is subjective. You can’t really be wrong (unless you choose blacks and dark grays for a fun, whimsical feel).
Go with your gut. Go with what feels true for you.
You might make totally different choices for a word like inspirational that I would and that’s okay. This is all about YOU.
The point of creating this board is to really dive into what your words/feelings/emotions LOOK like. How can you visualize your personality?
Step #4 – The final step is the fun part, choosing those fonts, colors, and imagery style that reflects YOU, that really creates a brand that you feel confident in using consistently on your website and social media platforms.
Actually building all of the assets for your brand is really outside of the scope of this blog post, but you’ve made great progress by starting with the foundational pieces of your brand, YOU.
Why do all of this branding work?
I mentioned above that using branding to differentiate yourself from the crowd is super important. But it’s more than that.
It’s about building a business that truly reflects you in an authentic way.
If you do this work, infuse your brand into your visuals and the words on your website, you’ll attract clients who are a good fit, who resonate with your values, and who want to work with you. You’ll be able to develop those relationships on a solid ground.
Because really, all business is a relationship. Sure, it’s one where money is exchanged, but I love to work with people who share my values and speak my language.
We “get” each other, whether it’s the gal who cuts my hair to my business coach to the company that sells me my accounting software. I can confidently tell you that all three are reliable, intuitive, and create change. Really – my accounting software is highly intuitive and easy to use!!!
I’ve also found that as I’ve worked on developing my brand and refining my offerings, I’ve gotten much more confident in sharing and getting visible as what I’m sharing is a truly authentic version of me. And, I know that if I nail my branding, I’ll build a business that reflects my values and my strengths, and I’ll do it with clients who share those same values.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on branding. Have you done it? What was the hardest part? The easiest part? Or have you avoided it altogether? Leave your thoughts below!
P.S. If you’re ready to learn how to create your brand, have it shine through your website and your copy, and you need some guidance, I’d love to chat.