Effective branding is a key to business success. What do you think are the best traits of successful brands?
The best brands have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, and how they communicate. Unless it’s a mega chain like Wal-Mart, most businesses have a specific target audience they’re pursuing. Understanding the target market is critical because it provides direction for the tone and reach of a marketing campaign, along with the overall identity of a brand, while helping to create an organic, human connection between a business and its audience.
Trying to appeal to everyone (ie, ignoring the concept of a target market) can be counterproductive, causing a company’s brand to become diluted. Finding the right branding approach requires first understanding the target market.
Establishing a brand identity requires something distinctive. For instance, Apple has become known worldwide for their innovative products and minimalistic, aesthetic appeal. When it comes to service companies, Domino’s Pizza used to guarantee that their pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or it’d be free. In terms of a selling point, TOMS shoes donates a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes that are bought.
Creating an identity within a niche doesn’t demand a revolutionary idea. It simply needs to have one special thing that separates it from the competition. In reality, it’s possible to be “a one trick pony” as long as that trick is really good. Once a company figures out what that is, it can concentrate on it and should gain recognition in time.
Do you know what your unique product, service, or selling point is within your niche? If not, start there when building your branding strategy.
While it’s certainly possible to build a brand in the short-term without passion, it’s almost impossible to sustain it in the long run. When you examine massively successful people like Steve Jobs, they all have a serious passion that keeps propelling them to work hard and continually deliver greatness. That passion leads to enthusiasm and genuine joy, which is infectious.
Consumers often become just as enthusiastic about a product or service, leading to word of mouth advertising and referrals. Passion also helps businesses persevere through inevitable setbacks.
When consumers come back to a business for repeat sales, they usually expect to receive the same level of quality as they did the first time. Restaurants and their food and service quality are a great example of this.
No one wants to deal with a company they can’t rely on for consistency. With so many industries being saturated with competitors, inconsistency is often enough of a reason for consumers to take their business elsewhere.
That’s why it’s so important to adhere to a certain quality standard with a product or service. An example of a brand who offers amazing consistency is McDonald’s. This powerhouse of the fast food world provides patrons with a menu that’s consistent across the world. Whether someone orders in Florida or China, they know that a Big Mac is going to taste the same.
Gaining an edge in today’s business world isn’t easy. For a brand to make a name for itself, team members should thrive on competition and constantly strive to improve. This is the main principle behind Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll’s book, Win Forever, as well as the way he runs the team.
When it comes to the major players in any industry, none simply sit back and hope that their consumers will do the work for them. Instead, they tend to be the movers and shakers who work tirelessly toward building and optimizing their brand, going above and beyond consumer expectations. The end result tends to be a brand that is continually on the cutting edge of its industry.
Another big part of being recognized as a distinctive, successful brand is the ability to reach consumers through multiple channels. Obviously, larger companies have an advantage gaining exposure because they usually have a bigger marketing budget and more existing connections. They can pay for television commercials, be featured in globally-recognized magazines, and rank highly in search engine results pages.
However, the Internet and social media have narrowed the gap between small companies and large ones. There are more tools than ever before which offer any company a chance at establishing their brand. By developing a presence on networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, anyone is able to reach almost any consumer. You just have to know how (that’s the hard part).
Just like any thriving community or sports team, there’s typically an influential leader behind every successful brand. For large companies, this may be the CEO. For smaller ones, it’s usually the owner.
To coordinate the efforts of team members and guide a strategic vision for a brand, someone has to step up and steer the ship. The leader resolves complications and acts as a liaison between different departments to keep everyone on the same page. They are also expert motivators and know how to maximize the strengths of different team members.
Creativity is another quality people look for in those they want to work and associate with. People generally feel they have a certain level of creativity. But most know that there is a limit to creativity. Most people that go far in business have realized the power of tapping into the creativity of others. This is where you can show your creativity and pique the curiosity of potential employers and business partners.
The Internet has made it much easier to showcase your creativity on a public and accessible platform. People that successfully build their personal brands will launch their own personal websites (more on this later). On those websites, people will create portfolios that showcase previous work. The websites also often have blogs where the owner can write consistent posts on various ideas in their chosen industry. It’s a way to share thoughts and ideas with the industry including those that the person might work with in the future.
For those looking to take their careers to a new level it can be difficult finding work to include in a portfolio. It’s especially difficult if you really haven’t liked your current job. Find what you can from your current and previous jobs. Turn the work into case studies. Tell the story of the project including the challenge you and the team were presented with and describe the path to overcoming the challenge and finding a solution.
Once you’ve done that, look for ways to build your portfolio. You can do this outside of your current job. You might find part-time paying work on a project basis. For some things you might have to work for little or no money. Think of it as an investment of your time in your future. There are such things as portfolio building experiences and it’s a reality you’ll need to accept in the early stages of your new career.
Build your portfolio with an eye on your career vision and keep building as you reach each next step.
It’s easy to say that one should “be memorable”. Most of us want to be memorable, but we also recognize that it’s not as easy to do, as it is to say. The fact is that to move up in the world and to achieve your new career goals you will have to be memorable especially to the people that will play a role in your ascension.
There are lots of ways to be memorable. You can’t do them all so the best way to be memorable to people is to do things that are unordinary as part of your regular routine. These things will be regular to you, but seen as different and therefore memorable to the people you encounter.
In business, people that take things a little further are memorable. Think of the typical job application process. 95% of the applicants will send their resumes, letters and do the interviews. The 5% that are memorable are the ones that further investigate the company and provide a proposal on how they can help the company increase sales and profit. They’re also the people that send a follow up thank you note after the interview.
You can also be memorable by having a unique hobby. Earlier we went through the exercise of identifying your passions including the things you like to do outside of work. It’s good to have hobbies and it’s good to share stories from those hobbies with the people you meet. Instead of just another candidate for a job you will be the candidate that has a flourishing vegetable garden or the candidate that plays jazz piano at local lounges on the weekends.
To be memorable, go one step further in your relationships than others typically go. That will make you stand out and be passionate about your passions in life. You don’t need to do something crazy, but talk about your hobbies with the people you meet. They will be more likely to remember more about you if they actually know more about you.
It’s not too often that your casual photos will look professional enough to impress people. Even if you’re pretty good with your smartphone, that selfie won’t do for a professional photo to represent your brand. Even the photos your spouse, family member or friend takes likely won’t cut it. It’s worth the investment to have a professional photographer setup a shoot and take a few headshots. You want the photo to show who you are. If you want to be an executive you’ll want to wear a suit or proper business attire. The photographer will know how to setup the lighting and how to edit the photo to make you look professional.
Professional photography can be expensive. A photo shoot can cost sever hundred dollars. You’re taking up the photographer’s time and when it comes to finding a better job and moving up in the world, it’s worth a few hundred dollars to create a photo that will help get you where you want to go.
Pay the money if you can afford it. If it’s out of your budget, find a photographer that will work on trade. Offer to do some kind of work that they need in exchange for their work. You might be able to do some accounting work. Maybe you can write a few blog posts for their blog. Do yard work around their house if you have to. It is worth it to have a professional photo that you can use for years on all of your branding material including a well designed website, social media profiles and more.
Social media profiles are important for building a professional brand. Social networks have large communities and you should be active in the ones that are important for professionals (LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, etc.), but having your own website is just as or more important.
We just talked about being memorable and taking things at least one step further than everyone else in your industry. Having a website is one step you can take that some people aren’t willing to take. Many do have websites, but many don’t and it’s an area you’ll need if you want to have a memorable personal brand.
In the next chapter we will discuss about building your personal assets including your website so stay tuned for more details, but know that a website is a requirement for building your personal brand. The website will need a professional design and content on the about page that effectively describes who you are and what you have to offer. You will also use your website to showcase your portfolio of work that we’ve covered and it’s where you’ll host your blog.
Here are our personal websites:
We’ll talk about these more in the next chapter, but you’ll notice that each website is professionally designed. Each has professional headshots as well as professional branding and logos. If you want to be recognized as a brand you have to do all the branding for yourself including professional design.
What kind of email signature do you have? Does it have your name, title, company and maybe a cute little quote about living each day to the fullest or about how success only comes before work in the dictionary?
These things are okay, but they’re either the basics or they’re something that everyone does. A proper email signature needs to have all the correct information and it needs to be designed so it looks professional while loading quickly on any email inbox server.