The word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse word brandr, which means “to burn by fire.” … In 1876, after the United Kingdom passed the Trade Mark Registration Act, Bass Ale became the first trademarked brand in the world after submitting its now-quintessential red triangle for trademark status. The act gave businesses the ability to register and protect a brand marker so that a similar icon couldn’t be used by any other company. In addition to clinching trademark number 1, Bass’s trailblazing history includes its appearances in Édouard Manet’s 1882 masterpiece A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and Pablo Picasso’s 1912 painting Bouteille de Bass et Guitare, ostensibly providing the brand with the cultural distinction of “first product placement.” … A little more than a century later, we are living in a world with over one hundred brands of bottled water.
Debbie Millman – Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits (public library)
Branding is a loaded word when it comes to business. Some believe it should just be a reflection of your own taste and personality, but it’s not really! Branding is about your audience, how you serve them and what you have to offer them that will make their lives easier. It should also help them achieve goals and/or encourage them to share your product with others (among other great things).
Personal branding is a hot topic in the entrepreneurial world, and is still a very confusing subject since the word “personal” can be interpreted and received in many different ways. For instance, someone might use a brand to showcase their personality, taste and how they spends their time. On the other hand, a brand can also align with the company’s promise, audience needs and positioning within the market.
No matter which side of the spectrum you belong to, there are a few things to consider and be aware of once you decide to dive into the branding world yourself.
1. Create a website
How often do you try researching a new product or service only to find that it has no website? How can prospective clients know your worth if you are nowhere to be found? As you can imagine, the chances of them revisiting your company are slim.
A web presence, no matter how simple, is very important because it gives you a 24/7 storefront that can be visited by anyone at anytime. It allows prospective clients to bookmark, share and find you when needed. It also allows you to build brand awareness and help your audience find you, get to know you and understand why you’re the right option for them. Your first website can be as simple or complex as you desire. The important thing to keep in mind is that there needs to be a place where your audience can learn about your product or service, contact you if they want to, and also follow you.
2. Engage via social media outlets
Social Media has become a ubiquitous presence. Personalities, friends, peers and brands use it daily to share information with the world, but it is also a great way to connect with your audience.
Updating your social media profiles not only allows people to find you, it also confirms that your business is dynamic and alive. It seems simple, but think of the times you’ve found yourself visiting a blog that hasn’t been updated in over a year. What about blank social media profiles with no information or signs of interaction?
Don’t let a stale social media account scare away potential customers!
3. Make sure your message coincides with your brand’s values
Just like having an empty social media profile can hurt your business, sharing anything and everything you find can hurt it as well. Sharing links to funny cat pictures, although amusing, do not relate to your brand promise or help your audience. Soon enough, you’ll lose out on a good opportunity to position yourself as an expert, and might even be seen as a spam account.
Any channel you use to to communicate with your followers needs to be considered and curated in a way that will serve and be useful to your followers. It doesn’t matter how many times a week you update your profiles or how long/short your blog posts are. If the information you share is helpful and inspiring to your audience, they will stay and share your posts with their own network. Being conscious of what you share with others will help you craft an image in your brand’s favor.
4. Clarify your message
When I need to find information on a certain topic, there are certain reliable sites I know I can count on to find what I’m looking for. If your message is clear and the content you’re sharing with the world supports and amplifies that message, you’ll help position yourself as an expert, gain more followers, and remain pertinent in a very busy online world.
5. Personalize your look
Every now and then, I come across a very generic website filled with stock photos pulled straight from the first page of Google Images and have to wonder whether or not the business is legitimate. It’s best to keep things simple. Even one unique identifier such as a photo, graphic or logo can help you seem like you’re offering a real product or service. Add some flair to make it your own.
6. It’s not about you, it’s about them
Let’s face it, when our brand is new to a someone they care very little about it. Our goal is to keep them interested and wondering more about what we have to offer. Thinking about how your brand helps your audience and delivering a compelling message will help you connect with them. Remember, building a business is about building long-term relationships. If you only talk about yourself all the time, your relationship will fail to prevail.
7. Expand your presence
Branding is not only an online activity. You need to get out, connect with others and get to know your audience in order to empower your brand. Sitting behind your computer screen isn’t enough. Step out, get to know people and be the ambassador for your brand. A handshake, compelling conversation or even a coffee meeting will be more memorable than any headline or social media status you create.
Let people get to know you and understand your brand through you!