I see marketing folks throw the word branding around, expecting everyone to know what they mean in the context of online marketing. But most website owners do not specifically consider what their “branding efforts” should be, as evidenced by clients asking me about this topic all the time.
What exactly is branding?
The official definition:
- To mark with or as if with a hot iron.
- To mark to show ownership.
- To provide with or publicize using a brand name.
- To impress firmly; fix ineradicably: “Imagery of the war has branded itself into the national consciousness.”
How does this apply to your website or online business? By being aware of your business's image and working to “brand” your business, you are setting yourself apart. Apart from all the noise and competition out there going after the same market you are in.
Branding efforts can highlight your business by how your brand's impression makes customers feel. Your brand includes logos, consistent site colors, and style, including what your business stands for. A look and feel that is relayed consistently everywhere someone may run into your company. Online, offline, and all social media platforms.
I've been asked about my competition. To which I always respond, “I don't have any.” I'm not saying there aren't folks who do what I do, some even better than I or are in the same field with great reputations. There most certainly are.
While there are perceived competitors, a rare few have been doing this as long and as successfully as I have. So my brand is all about me, my personality, and the years of experience that most cannot offer. I am my brand.
Notice how I said “perceived” competitors. Your branding efforts depend on you doing all you can to ensure that your brand, company name, and methodology, when logically compared to others in your industry, will stand out from the rest.
Because your brand sets you apart and there is no comparison.
But there's the rub… We live in a culture with the attention span of a gnat. Onliners don't want to read. They don't take the time to pay attention to details, and unfortunately, they don't have much of a desire for knowledge acquisition. So how do you tackle that?
Realize there is only so much you can do and that you can't be everything to everyone — so brand yourself to cater to your target market. But brand you must.
Figure out what is unique about you, your company, your product, or your service. Then use that consistently in everything you do and in every marketing effort you make. Of course, it would be best if you are, in fact, different than any other website or similar business. It helps to stick out like a sore thumb and be remembered.
That's how you build your brand. Whether it be a slogan or a methodology, carry that over to all actions and reactions that involve your business. Sit down right now and determine what is going to represent your brand. Words, images, icons, colors?
Being a one-woman show, I am my brand, and I do not hesitate to let my personality shine through. That in of itself sets me apart from most techies who may lack in the personality department. Combined with my particular set of skills and experience, there is no other “me” out there.
Tell Your Story
For a brand story to work, it must go beyond a brand’s products and services. Your story should invite site visitors to become part of your journey. You want them to know that you “get” who they are and understand their needs.
Also, including where you struggled, maybe even failed, and how you recovered lets your customers get to know you. That you are human just like them, if they can relate to you — chances are they'll do business with you.
Branding = Consistency
I brand myself by using the same sign-off, which also happens to be the name of this website, “At Your Service,” in my email. Then, I solidify that further by backing that statement up with the best and most responsive customer service out there (a rare commodity on and off-line).
Once folks begin communicating with me, I make an impression compared to most they've run into. I've made my “mark with or as if with a hot iron.” And, I deliberately reinforce that branding as our relationship grows and matures.
Nothing less than this approach will build a memorable brand.
At your service,