Building a strong brand is key to growing a sustainable and successful business. There are many activities you can engage in, and revise regularly, to strengthen your brand. These include maintaining a consistent brand identity or persona; having a clear brand purpose that clients can relate to; and clearly communicating your core values.
We all have a brand already, whether we realise it or not. It’s the impression we give based on how we (or our business) speak and act; what we choose to wear and decorate our spaces with; where our interests lie, and our style as a creative. It’s our values.
In this article from Felicia Sullivan, she states, “Prospects cleave to what’s familiar and recognizable, and they want to feel their bond is rooted in an emotional connection, shared values, and a mutual understanding—that their link surpasses a transaction.”
The more you show who you are as a brand by consistently demonstrating your characteristics, the more you strengthen your brand and attract a like-minded audience.
BRAND PERSONA – CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Your Brand Persona is the way your business presents itself. It’s the characteristics and values it displays, to help connect with your target audience.
Consistency is key to establishing a long-lasting brand.
Defining your Brand Persona is invaluable exercise for all small businesses. It requires that you take the time to strategically evaluate your values; the message you want to share with your audience; and to consider what makes you unique in your field.
Use this evaluation to form a reference to help you, and any future staff, to create effective and consistent messaging to both ATTRACT and RETAIN your audience.
BRAND PERSONA EXERCISES
Even if you are the face of your business, it can be useful to create a brand persona, to define the values and characteristics your brand will focus on sharing. If you wish, you can literally invent a character who mirrors the parts of you which you are comfortable in sharing publicly with your audience, and give them a name as your brand persona.
In addition to being a useful guide for brand voice and tone, referring to a brand persona can be useful when brainstorming content ideas which are common interests between your brand and your audience.
1. Write a letter
Give your brand persona a name if you like. Write a letter to tell a family member all about a new “friend” (your brand) you’ve met! Describe their personality traits, attitudes and values.
2. Create a mood board
What does your brand persona like? Consider colour palettes and elements they’re drawn to visually, wardrobe, entertainment preferences, past-times and hobbies, health and exercise, life experience, relationships, and so on.
3. How does your persona speak?
Decide/define how your persona speaks. What type and tone of language do they use?
Examples include warm, formal, inspiring, authoritative, entertaining, “sales-y”, informative, whimsical, serious, quirky…
Defining the tone and type of language your persona will use helps to establish their personality. This is useful for both for yourself and for any future staff who will be creating content for your brand, to ensure the message and tone remain consistent and identifiable by your audience. When tone suddenly changes, without reason, it can generate an uncomfortable reaction from your audience, and risk losing their interest.
Consistency aids in developing customer loyalty and retention, to strengthen your brand and become a trusted name in your field.
When your audience feels they can relate to a brand, they are more likely to become an evangelist for the brand to their own circle of contacts.
HAVE A CLEAR BRAND PURPOSE
There are many definitions of Brand Purpose, but most come back to it being the bigger reason for your business to exist, outside of just making money. What is your “greater good” reason for operating your business? What is the problem you exist to solve?
Brand Purpose connects what you do with how it helps your clients achieve their goals.
For example, you’re not just a photographer who exists to sell them some images. You’re the person who will help them fulfil their need to reinforce the importance of family, every day, by having beautiful artwork hanging in their living room.
Of course, the above is just one hypothetical customer need. Knowing your audience and the scope of their requirements will help you to communicate to them, how your brand purpose will help resolve their needs.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful forms of marketing available to us. And today, many consumers are looking for past customers’ stories, more than blatant advertisements. When we understand people’s true needs, we’re in a better place to create a solution – or, you might say, add another chapter to their story. As photographers, we’re visual storytellers. So, where appropriate, share some of the story of how your brand purpose helped your client find a solution to their problem.
Read more on Brand Purpose here.
COMMUNICATE YOUR CORE VALUES
It’s human nature to like to spend time with people who have similar values to our own. And choosing a business to work with is no different. Communicating your core values to your audience will help them to know what you stand for, and what’s important to you. This will give them a sense of the intentions which go into your business decisions, as well as how they can expect to be treated if they work with you.
While you as an individual likely have numerous personal values, we’d suggest that you highlight 3 to 5 core values as a business. This will help you focus your message to your audience.
It’s important that your values be genuine. Don’t choose values which you can’t follow through on.
Download Kelly Brown’s FREE Planner for exercises on identifying your values, goals and more.
Business values can include your beliefs and attitudes, your work ethic and customer service, and even your commitment to local community or economy, conservation or environment. And while you might list your core values on your website, it’s even better to communicate them by evidence of them in practice.
For example, if one of your core values is to support local small businesses, you can communicate this on your social channels with stories of trips to your suppliers, beautiful photographs of orders awaiting collection, custom packaging from local businesses, and so on.
Clients whose values align with your own will be more inclined to stay on as repeat customers through the years.
Read more about Business Values.
OTHER WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BRAND
We’ve focused on just three of the many tasks which can help strengthen your brand. Some other important factors include:
- Knowing your audience
- Creating quality, authentic content
- Sharing your own story
- Ensuring your website URL, emails, social channels, etc, are all branded consistently with your business name
- Being customer service driven
Now is a great time to assess and identify areas where you can work to strengthen your brand. Consider asking a small group of friends or colleagues who you know will give you honest feedback, how they perceive your brand. See if their impressions align with your own aims for your brand. Use their feedback to look at areas you could do extra work in.