Branding yourself or your company

Someone I know called me today to talk about branding themselves and wondered if this was something I could help them with. During our short conversation, she asked “How come you don’t promote your other business [on social media], or is it that I just don’t see it?” I wasn’t sure as I don’t know if she has liked or follows my business profiles and pages on my various social media channels. She was right, though, I don’t promote my “other business”—this one, which is actually my main business—nearly as much on social media as I do my secondary business (which is the one she knows me through). Afterwards, realizing I was not being consistent with my own branding, mainly due to having too many options and not knowing which one to focus on (among other reasons which I won’t go into here), I was compelled to write this post on branding. Some of it is a reminder to myself. Some of it, I hope will help you if you are reading this.

Branding 101Kaz Design Works’ role in branding is to help you, the entrepreneur, the business or the direct sales associate, communicate your brand. I am not a brand strategist or a brand marketing agency, but I am happy to chat with you to learn about your business goals and your brand (if you already have one) or ask questions to help you define your brand (if you don’t), before I begin creating your marketing pieces.
The tools I use to communicate your brand are my creativity, design skills, web technology knowledge, my social media and marketing experience and my drive to learn and develop new skills and experience to help my clients succeed with their branding goals. Brands often develop as customers’ needs and business goals change, so my role is to help you develop and transform your brand accordingly.

But what is branding?

Many think of branding as just being a company’s logo. But it isn’t just about creating a logo that is eye-catching or that has some hidden symbolic meaning and then putting it on all your company’s marketing material.
Branding is the way in which you market and communicate your brand so that it’s both memorable and sets you apart from your competitors. Your brand is the whole package: for entrepreneurs, it’s how you dress, speak and act, it’s the messages you communicate both verbally and in your marketing material; for bigger companies, it’s also about how its employees dress, speak and act, and the way they communicate the company’s message. The way you and your representatives communicate your brand can make or break your company.

Consistency is Key

Branding is also about being consistent with your marketing messages. You want to stand out from the crowd, but in a good way, not a bad way. Being consistent with your branding will set you apart from your competitors and make you and your brand more memorable. Sending mixed messages will confuse your customers resulting in them not knowing what you really do or thinking you’re a jack of all trades but master of none.
You need to define your goals, your target market and your target market’s needs. You need to decide what it is you do best, or what you are most passionate about, and focus on that. You need to determine what niche you will fill with your skill set or product, what steps you need to take to fill that niche and what strategies you will use to get the word out. Once you’ve figured it all out, you need to create a plan of action, remain focussed on your goals and your strategy and be consistent with your branding messages.
From time to time, you may need to change your strategy or your messages if they are not working for you, or if your market’s needs change, but don’t give up at the first hurdle. Track what works and what doesn’t and change accordingly.

For some basic branding tips that include brand strategy and getting the word out, read this “Entrepreneur” article on the Basics of Branding. You can also do a search on this blog for other tips on getting the word out.

Getting the help you need

If you’re starting out on your own, or if you’re changing direction, and need help with defining your brand and branding yourself, you may need to create a team to help instead of trying to do it all yourself. Your team could include mentors who are current or past business associates, members of a business support group, business networking group or online peer group who can provide you with advice and guidance, or you may need to hire the services of individuals with the appropriate skills and expertise. It’s good to have both.
Look for people who have already been where you want to go who can offer advice, guidance or secondary opinions, or who have the skills and expertise to formulate your ideas, guide you in the right direction and or help you devise your plan of action and brand strategy—industry peers, a brand strategist, marketing agency, a business coach, a financial advisor, and so forth.
Avoid seeking free advice or help from family members and close friends if possible, as they may only tell you what they think you want to hear (or the complete opposite), instead of what you need to hear, or they may not be able to fulfill their promise of free help when the time arises due to other “paid” commitments.