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Branding is one of the most important activities your business can engage in. Building a strong, recognizable brand will help you connect with your existing customers, sell to new ones, and encourage loyalty and recognition.
But like any other business task, successful branding requires careful planning and a smart strategy. Here 16 steps from 16 of the world best business and branding coaches that will guide you into how to get this done.
1. Do A 'Values Check'
Branding isn't about your logo; it's about your message - what you're broadcasting to the world. First, check in with your own values: Does the wording and look and feel on your website, social media profiles and materials match up with those values? Look to make all your messages and images congruent with your values and the world will notice.
2. Know Thyself And Align
The most fundamental part of branding is truly understanding who you are so that you can align all of your actions and your environment. The deeper your understanding of values, vision, and other brand attributes, the better able you are to align all parts of your life consistent with your brand. You are the most critical part of your branding strategy.
3. Create High-Profile Events
I created an event series named after my book, From the CEO’s Perspective. I invite three high-profile CEOs to join me on stage, and I moderate a discussion on a pressing leadership topic in front of an intimate audience of 70. I’m in my third year, and every event has sold out. For my brand, it’s led to increased visibility and influence, and fantastic content for video and writing.
4. Use Great Photos
Most small businesses are "personal brands," meaning you are the face of your brand. The days of the boring head shot are done for most coaches, consultants and service providers. Use photos of you that reflect your personality and style to make your website and brand stand out from the crowd online. You'll attract your ideal clients and get your message across with less effort.
5. Be True To You
Be authentic to who you are, the values you have, and the skills you excel at. Authenticity is imperative to branding success. Avoid pressure to constantly reinvent yourself or overstate and inflate your message. A simple articulation of who you are and what you are good at – shared succinctly and clearly – will suffice to nail down your brand.
6. Become The Media
Social media, camera phones, podcasts, etc. have given us amazing opportunities to build and expand our brands. Whatever it is we want to be known for, we can get the message out faster, bigger and better by becoming the media. You can deliver quick video tips from your phone, share ideas on a podcast, and interview others via a blog or short video. If you become the resource, you own the brand.
7. Improve Your Culture
The most visible brand you have is your company's culture. It's culture that defines your uniqueness and provides you with a competitive edge. It’s a social and psychological form of DNA that can become a catalytic mechanism. Your company culture is a key element relative to how people "see" your company. Since it's your company's soul, it's worth paying attention to.
8. Define Your Niche
You can't be all things to all people. Narrow your target market by either offering a specialized product or service, or by serving a specific demographic (i.e. busy moms who want to find a healthy work-life balance vs. anyone who wants to find a healthy work-life balance). There's a reason brain surgeons get paid more than general practitioners!
9. Meet Your Audience Where They Are
If you want to be unique, get your branding right. Address your target market in the places they hang out with the message they expect to hear, using the distribution methods and mediums they like. It's a simple formula that many do not follow. Your brand is your identity, and once you have that set, you can get creative with the rest.
10. Start With Your Value Proposition
Branding is an exercise in establishing an impression about yourself to others, but if you start with branding first, you have a very shallow brand. By contrast, an authentic and compelling brand starts with knowing your personal value proposition. What does your audience need and how do you fulfill those needs? If you can answer those questions, your branding will be a natural extension from there.
11. Provide 'Brand Extension' Experiences
A purpose of branding is to differentiate product and service offerings in the marketplace. Dare to provide solutions in a different way. To enhance leader productivity, I partnered with an upscale resort and an admirable entrepreneur to host self-care Glam Retreats for my targeted audience. My guests network, rest and are coached in five-star style, which is my brand extension.
12. Partner With An Expert
Nothing beats getting outside feedback from a branding expert to get clear on your reputation, values, brand and how to best articulate your business and services to your clients. Conduct a 360 of your brand strategy with an expert and, together, align your next steps for your target audience.
13. Stop 'Selling' And Be Helpful
Your customers don’t want to be treated as though they only represent dollar signs to you. If you focus on being helpful by crafting well-researched social media responses instead of driving traffic, you can give your brand an edge while building trust. Prioritizing quality engagement through creating meaningful interactions can lead to loyal customers and sometimes even brand evangelists
14. Give Your Wisdom Away
Branding is not a trick, it’s who you are. The best strategy is to just do what you do; if you do it well, people will want more. I’ve published, by email, a provocative leadership question every Monday morning for over 17 years. It’s a free little glimpse of the wisdom people can expect when they work with me.
15. Make Your Brand Human
Think of your brand as a real person, but bigger. We often make the mistake of thinking of our brand too broadly. Broad translates as vague and forgettable. Think about the brands you remember. They are human and real. They get stuck in our minds because they touch on a part of ourselves that we didn’t think anyone else could see.
16. Network To Start Conversations And Build Goodwill
When I make a new connection, I send a thank you message including something of value - a content gift not related to what I do. For example, within my thank you, I include a free subscription to my motivational quotes that include suggested actions to bring the quotes to life. Now you’ve started a two-way conversation.