When we think of running a business, something that usually comes to mind is your brand.
This is the process of establishing the identity and behavior of your company. It triggers an emotional response from people wanting to be a part of something.
That “something” is about energy that… Well, what is it? Branding isn't just about the face of your company, but also what it represents!
You may be asking “why is this important?” Because the brand sets the understanding of your company. It influences employees, customers, and anyone that comes in contact with your business.
Now let's get to the fun part! Today we are going to be exploring how you can present a brand that not only helps with identification but also represents… What, who, and why!
(Note: I use the words “products” and “services” interchangeably throughout this blog post)
1 - Brand that represents “what”
This may seem obvious, but understand that what you sell is very important! Formulate the brand to be recognizable, so people can clearly know what you sell.
Your goal is to create a strong brand that tells the customer everything they need to know about what your company does. Here is how you can get started achieving that.
Know WHAT YOUR PRODUCT ACHIEVES
Business transactions are the exchange of items where each party values the product more than what they paid for it. You get money and the customer gets what?
You need to define how the customer can get more from the product than what they paid for. There are two ways to achieve this.
Extrinsic - this is the best approach when working with professionals or other businesses. The goal of the product is to produce results and make more money.
Intrinsic - this is the best approach when working with consumers. The customer expects to receive an emotional benefit from using the product, such as having fun.
Usually, the customer only benefits from one of the above ways, but it is possible to gain from both.
Know HOW YOUR PRODUCT IS DIFFERENT
Having your product or service achieve a goal isn’t enough. You have competition and need to demonstrate how your product is different.
There are three ways this is usually done:
Quality - can you show how your product is better? It could have better materials, be handmade in the USA, or simply just have a better design.
Uniqueness - does it serve a very niche purpose compared to everything else on the market? This shows to the customer that your item may be more useful to their specific needs. More on this later.
Affordability - who cares if you have great service if nobody can afford it? However, this also depends on who your ideal customer is.
2 - Brand that represents “who”
Now that you understand what you are selling, you should get to know your ideal customer. This allows you to create a specialized service or product. Of course, this can go hand-in-hand with what you sell.
You ask, why is that? Well, let me ask you something. Say you were going out to eat and wanted chicken fettuccine alfredo. You have two options below, which one would you pick?
You could go to the family restaurant that sells all types of food, but they aren’t known for any particular dish.
You could go eat at the Italian restaurant that is known for its delicious chicken fettuccine alfredo.
You most likely will choose the latter because that business specializes in making that particular dish. However, more than anything, this applies to your brand so you can market to those specific customers.
How you do this is by creating an ideal customer profile.
Define their Demographics
Answering questions about their living situation is important. This helps narrow down who will be buying your services. This includes:
Age - what age will be using your services? Do you sell toys for kids or do you sell study guides for college students?
Gender - is your product made for a specific sex such as clothing items? Or are your products unisex, but with a specific gender having a higher likelihood of using your products?
Locations - do you only provide your services to people in specific locations? Or perhaps you work with customers everywhere, but find that people only use your services in certain areas.
Finances - money can provide a lot of information about people. Details such as income and property status are important. If you sell an expensive product, would you target customers with a high or low income?
Relationship status - is your ideal customer single? Married? Maybe with kids? For example, a wedding photographer would want to market to engaged couples. Right?
You can also include other demographic details such as ethnicity that may relate to your business services.
Define their interests
Other than demographics, discovering your customer’s interests and hobbies is vital. This allows you to understand who your customer could be, rather than what is just written on a piece of paper.
Here are some random examples:
Paddleboarding - your customer likes to get outside and enjoy the peace. They also like the low physical demands of the activity and how therapeutic it can be.
Chess - your customer likes to be competitive, understand patterns, and strategize.
Woodworking - Your customer likes to work with their hands to create something.
You can also get more specific about what companies customers like or often purchase from. It doesn’t have to be relevant because it will show you who they are as a person.
Define their habits & Personality
This can sometimes be going a step too far depending on your business, but it can be very useful if you implement it correctly.
For example, social media companies use tracking software to better understand your habits. They do this to show you the best ads based on your vulnerability to buy-in.
This is a complicated part of creating the ideal customer avatar. However, a good way to start is by targeting their temperament.
Are they extravert or introverted? Saver or a spender? What are their weaknesses and strengths? Do they have a habit of doing something specific?
3 - Brand that represents “why”
I believe that the "why factor" has the biggest impact on your brand. I say this because of two reasons.
I think that it shows through so much of what you present: writing, photographs, and visual graphics such as your logo.
It is a known concept that people don’t just buy what you do, but also why you do it.
Now that you have digested that, here are some things for you to think about!
Write your mission statement
You may think, why would a mission statement be relevant for a business? Isn't that just for nonprofits?
The fact is, every business has a purpose and no it is not just about making money. The mission statement of your business is how people become better versions of themselves. This includes:
A game that they enjoy, and have fun playing.
Tools that help them create something they are passionate about.
Services that help with all the stressful and frustrating tasks that need to get done.
An example of a mission statement:
“To create the best organizational systems that allow creators to focus without worrying about where to find their supplies.”
Write your vision statement
Your vision is how you could see the world benefiting from your company. I see this essentially as the result of the mission statement.
The idea behind this statement is to give your company legitimacy and to inspire people to trust in you.
An example of a vision statement:
“To live in a world where nobody ever misplaces anything and always knows exactly where to find everything.”
Write your values
The last task you will be working on is curating a list of what you value at your company. This is always an interesting part of your brand because it can get political and it often reflects on a worldview belief.
Values can include anything that you value, which impacts the world that we live in. Some generic examples of these values include:
The values in your company can be more specific (recommended) than this. I gave generic examples because the values need to be unique to your business.
Your brand isn't just something that you create and never touch again. It is more like a living and evolving organism that you take care of.
The reason why you need to define each of these eight steps is that you are the one giving life to your brand.
It represents the purpose of your company through every aspect, including:
You don’t create the brand, you give it what it wants based on how you answered all the questions in this blog post.
Now how do you use all of your answers to establish your brand? You need to reverse-represent them. Here is an example of how you can do that.
Fun scenario: you manufacture expensive sophisticated technology = attractive to tech-savvy people. That is your representation. Here are some questions for you to answer:
If you choose a font, would you use a clean script font or an advanced code-looking mono font?
If you chose a color palette, would it be very colorful and life-like, or would it be an intense high contrast black & white?
If you had to take pictures of your products, would you show more of the sophisticated interior or the beautiful exterior of the item?
If you wrote an article, would you use easy-to-understand language for a non-advanced audience or would you write a very technical article for an expert audience?
If you trained staff, would you have them treat customers like they don’t know anything, or have them expect to be working with experienced professionals?
Would your logo be seen as the representation that reflects all of the above?
This is a very basic scenario, but this is to help give you an understanding of what implementing your brand representation looks like.
Everything explained in this post I have learned from my experience in running my own photography business, studying brand marketing, and exploring industrial design.
My intention is for you to use the content of this blog post to help get you started in your brand development. Your next step is to now go out and use the information you learned to improve the brand representation in your business!
Thanks for reading!