Building a Brand? Consider these strategies BEFORE You Get Visual

You’ve likely heard me say 100 times that your brand has very little to do with your logo.  In fact, your website, tagline, business card – all of them have NOTHING to do with your brand.

The definition that I cut my teeth on was Marty Neumeier’s, the author of The Brand Gap: A brand is a person’s gut feeling or perception of your product, service or program.  

In the last five years of working directly with small business owners and solo-preneurs in the brand development process, I’ve actually deepened that definition:  A brand is an intentional and strategic message, promise and experience created to serve others through your significance. When you realize that the branding process is about the way your business is perceived, interpreted, remembered and talked about, you’ll realize that the more defined your brand is BEFORE you create the visual presence of it, the more accurate the perception others will have about it and that’s how I help my clients.  We take the time and do the work to get crystal clear about the message behind the business, the product, the service, the goal.  And, in doing that, we create and instill confidence that makes the price tag on the product or service a non-issue for the end user. You see if the message is developed succinctly for the right audience and deployed through the right strategies, they will make the emotional investment in whatever you have to solve their problem.

And when your brand is attached to a service, it can be even more challenging to define.

That’s why when I got Carla’s question, I admired her immediately. Wanting to get your brand right BEFORE starting your business is genius.

“Hi Darnyelle.  I am an aspiring entrepreneur and want to build a thriving small business and a brand that is easily recognizable.  Since I am just getting started, can you share what is important for me to consider in the branding process so that I do it the right way?”

Watch my response to Carla’s question here:

If you find yourself in the same place as Carla, consider the following tips to help you build a powerful brand that will translate into a profit-filled business:

1. Clearly define who you want to be in the marketplace.  If you have a product or widget, that can seem easier in the brand definition process.  Sometimes having a service or being the brand (as a figurehead) makes the definition process much more cumbersome.  You have to be able to take your time and marinate on who you want to be in the marketplace. You have to take your gifts, talents, core strengths and problems you solve easily for your ideal clients into consideration.

2. Drill what you want to be into a clear and concise message that illustrates the promise you are making to your Audience of One® (ideal clients).  There are tons of debates as to how succinct the message must be. I tend to err on the side of 7 words or less.  If what you do, who you are and the promise you make to the marketplace can’t be said in 7 words or less, it’s not clear enough, and if it’s not clear enough, you’ll blend in instead of standing out.  (Think about your favorite brands… think of their core messaging… they are 7 words or less, aren’t they?  Exactly.)

3. Create a strategic brand plan that takes into account every facet of the brand building process.  Think about your brand in stages.  Start-up, Building, Leverage.  What you need to do when you are beginning the branding process changes significantly when you are at the point of leveraging the brand by building a thought leadership platform. (Remember, you are the brand – your products, services and programs are extensions or subs of the main brand.  Anyone who chooses you out of the many who technically do what you do are choosing you because of YOU.)

4. Create your brand storyboard.  A brand storyboard is another name for your brand’s vision board.  To learn more about creating one of these, see a previous post about creating one.  The basic premise is to get clear about the “why” of your brand and the promise you want your legacy to leave with those you serve.  This is a great way to begin the process of standing out from your competitors. Your brand board will help to conceptualize and eventually convey your brand’s attributes, values, promises, differences and personality at one time.  As an added bonus, it serves as a visual cue and reminder of your promise to your ideal clients.

5. Hire a visual designer to conceptualize what you’ve uncovered through your logo, typography, imagery, coloring, etc. Again, in my opinion, getting visual before you get clear will be a waste of time and energy and it will cost you more money in the long run.

Now I want to hear from you, what’s your two cents?:   
How have you gone through the process of developing your brand?  And, keeping in mind that marketing and branding are NOT the same thing, what would you offer to Carla to help her as she begins the branding process?

Want more on Personal Branding?  Check out these posts:

©2014 by Darnyelle A. Jervey. All Rights Reserved. Darnyelle A. Jervey, MBA, The Incredible Factor Speaker, Business Coach and Marketing Mentor, is the founder of Incredible One, Incredible Factor University® and the Leverage Your Incredible Factor System®, a proven step-by-step program for more clients, more income and more leverage in your business. For more information and a FREE audio CD “7 Critical Mistakes Entrepreneurs Must Avoid When Unleashing Your Incredible Factor So You Attract More Clients, Make More Money and Gain More Leverage” just fill out the form below.

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