One thing I am utterly passionate about, when it comes to running my business, is making sure everything is ‘on brand’. It’s probably a term you’ve heard so many times, but what does that really mean?
What is a Brand?
Is it referring to the colours of your website? The font you’ve used for your logo? The embroidered clothing you wear to work? Or the packaging you use for your orders?
Well yes. It’s certainly all of that. But it’s also so much more, too.
Your brand, is the very essence of your business.
So yes, colours, fonts, logos, the style you write in, packaging, clothing… they’re all elements of your brand. But your brand is also so much more emotionally lead than that.
And it’s quite hard to explain just how all-encompassing branding really is.
When you think of your business, you should be able to pin down your ‘message’. The very thing you want people to feel and experience when they work with you. The things your business stands for. The voice you are using to get that message across.
That, in very simple terms, is your brand.
Your business’s character. It’s likes and dislikes. It’s values. The other brands it associates with. It’s opinions and it’s identity.
It is all your brand.
Using My Business As An Example
So, let’s use my business (because I know it like the back of my hand) as an example. I’m an equine photographer and country lifestyle blogger.
My brand is everything country, it’s me as a person, it’s very female inspired, it’s bright, positive, very British, rural and timeless. And everything I do, everything that goes out online, even the parts of my vlog that follow me to events with family and friends, are ‘on brand’.
I have worked hard to craft an identity for my business that is noticeable across all of my content and that my audience have come to expect and recognise as my brand.
This began simply with photos or horses and has grown into blogging and vlogging, much more recently. But even then, the content you see on my blogs, will always align with my job as an equine photographer. I post about equine and country lifestyle inspired fashion, interiors and days out. All things that my equine photography clients would be interested in reading about, so as to compliment and strengthen my brand, all the while.
Every image I pin to Pinterest, is something I think my ideal client would enjoy, whether that is to do with the country home, inspirational quotes, fashion, or running a rural business… it fits with my brand.
Even if I vlog about going up to London, you’ll very often find me approaching it from a ‘country girl in the city’ angle.
And you’d never find me blogging about car parts, for example, or about the latest MAC launch. (The latest Joules, Ariat or Hiho Silver launch, very possibly!)
Logos, Fonts & Colours
On a much more practical level, staying ‘on brand’ does also, of course, apply to things like logos, packaging, business cards and leaflets. You want to make sure you are using the same imagery, logo, font and colours across all of your literature, so that the instant somebody picks up something of yours, they recognise who it belongs to.
For me, my pink and blue logo has become a fundamental component of my brand. It is instantly recognisable and I’ve even had clients that they can’t wait to see their images with my logo on.
Equally, using the same profile picture across all of your social media platforms helps you become instantly recognisable to new followers.
Your Imaginary Brand Magazine
My advice is to imagine your business like a magazine. If I were to release the ‘Sophie Callahan’ magazine, what would I include? Features on country homes, country fashion, horse shows, equine photoshoots and running your equine business.
My readers would be interested to read about the newest country and equestrian jewellery brands, about new boots on the market and about the best country pubs to visit. They almost certainly don’t want to know about which celebrity couple just got married, or which new face moisturiser cost the most. Not from me, anyway.
Some magazines cover a wider variety of topics than others, but either way, their content choices are intentional and are always what their readers would expect from them.
If it wouldn’t be in your imaginary brand magazine, don’t tweet it, don’t pin it, don’t video it, don’t post it. And you won’t go far wrong.
The benefits of getting your branding right and consistent are huge. People will recognise you faster, quickly become familiar with your business and everything it stands for, and it’ll also help you attract the right customers for you, and repel the wrong ones.
A strong brand inspires loyalty and trust, from your followers, to deliver a high-quality product or service and it encourages people to engage with you, as they feel they know you better.
So, take a look through everything that represents your business… From your Facebook page, to your website, your packaging, the other companies you retweet and associate with, to the leaflets you send out with your orders.
Is it all cohesive? Does it all put out the same message? Does it appeal to your ideal client? Is it on brand?
If not, delete it.
PIN FOR LATER