If there was any concept that rose out of the darkness and into the mainstream recently, it’s the culture of branding. A few years ago, if you told someone you were “building a lifestyle brand,” you’d probably get an awkward smile in return. But, in today’s blog + Instagram + Facebook + SnapChat driven world, people understand the concept of branding because it’s everywhere and has become part of the daily conversation. Thanks to curated feeds where one single thought goes into every post: This is who I am, and this is what I represent, branding is critical to growing companies, and people.
Whether you’re trying to build your blog’s brand or get a business off the ground, you should keep a few things in mind. Check out our top tips to get your brand up and running—and more importantly—to get folks talking about what you do.
1. Be authentic
Your visitors are sure to look around your website trying to figure you out. If you’re claiming to be a foodie, own it. Don’t go on Twitter asking what brioche is if you’re professing your love for pomes frites with organic truffle infused ketchup – the persona you’re crafting will be compromised. You say you love food, you’d better know the hottest menu items of tomorrow, while being well-versed in all of the classics, too.
Trying to pretend you’re something that you aren’t, only led to problems. If you’re a passionate dog blogger, tell the world about why puppies rule the world. Leave the kitten talk to someone else. Own your unique persona.
2. Consistency is key
If you’re running a baseball blog dedicated to the Chicago White Sox, don’t start posting about how great the Cubs are. It doesn’t work like that in baseball. Readers will come to your blog for the latest news or rumors regarding the Sox and will have little interest involving anything that doesn’t directly affect the team. All of the content featured needs to keep a consistent thread: this is a baseball blog that’s for White Sox fans, written by a White Sox fan.
As a general rule, the best blogs are driven by a singular vision: this is the best place for X topic.
3. Who is the person you want to reach?
Do you know what they love? What they dislike? Who are their heroes? What brands do they engage with? These are the questions you need to ask when building out your brand.
- Consider these questions when putting pen to paper:
- What age group are you targeting?
- What level of education is your reader?
- What industry is your ideal reader?
- Is your content gender specific?
- What is your reader’s lifestyle?
- What help can you offer?
Some of these questions won’t matter for your topic if it’s broad like a sports team or a genre of music. But, for everything else, creating an ideal persona is helpful because you can imagine you’re creating content for that person. If you make multiple personas, you can dive deep and flesh out this person’s likes and dislikes, and build out a very brand-specific approach to your message.
Always keep the end-user in mind. This content is created for their benefit, and through the curated material that people are after, the branding happens organically.
4. Be original
We’ve all heard the phrase “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, ” and in some cases, like an ironic t-shirt, it works. In branding though, that flattery, well, falls flat. It’s always ok to look to your favorite brands and see what worked and what didn’t to push them to the top of the heap regarding their successes, but directly copying their style won’t do you any favors.
Carve out your identity, and be original. Take chances. If there’s one major shift in consumer mindset over the last few years, it’s that we want less “big box” and more “mom and pop” – we want unique identities and independent business.
Truly independent minds rely on the personality of their brand, while also proving that what they do, what they stand for is forever identifiably theirs. Because your brand is willing to try things, to be authentic, many consumers respond.
5. Always be ON
When you’re talking to customers, or just responding to comments on your blog or social media, keeping all communication on-brand is critical. From handling an ugly review or someone saying something great about your business, it’s imperative all communications with the public stay within a vetted style that works within the guidelines of the company vision.
These are just some of our thoughts on the world of branding. Do you have any branding tips we missed? If so, we’d love to hear what are your personal favorites. Leave us a comment.
Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven is in stores. He’s working on his newest novel, A Hard Roll. He also likes ice cream and koalas. He lives in Austin. Stalk him on Twitter: @Robert_Dean