5 Secret Ways to Brand Your Business: It’s Not All Logos and Packaging with Vanessa Joy
At one of my first introductions to branding, I was sitting in a workshop, and the Nike logo popped up on the screen, and then Mercedes, and then Coca-Cola. The most common way to explain branding is by showing popular logos and letting the audience realize they have a connection to that logo, good or bad, and therefore a connection to that company and its product. That is branding, but that’s not all that branding is.
People’s lives are becoming more open and consumers more educated on what a solid business brand should look like. Consumers are starting to have a more critical eye and expect a higher level of experience when spending their money. Starbucks will always redo a bad drink. Victoria’s Secret will wrap your purchases like a birthday gift. Apple will forever be dedicated to sleek and sophisticated electronic style. You need to find ways to communicate your brand to the world like these companies do.
The first thing that comes to most people’s mind when thinking of branding is, “What else can I put my logo on”? or, “Do my pictures look consistent and flow together nicely on my website and with my logo?” It’s so much more than that. Branding is about customer experience, so to effectively convey your brand message to your clients, you need to look at the overall picture. Walk yourself through the client process and see how they see you.
Here are five ways you can communicate your brand that you may not have thought of before.
- Social Media
Gary Vaynerchuk writes in his book The Thank You Economy that individuals need to work on their own personal brand. The book shows how powerful social media would become, how it would require that everyone create a brand for themselves. When you’re sizing up a new business or a potential new friend, what do you do? You check out their social media, and in just a few clicks and scrolls, you think you know them and what they’re about.
Your customers are no exception. When they first look at your website and want to know more about you, they’ll click on your Facebook and see how many likes you have. They’ll open your Instagram feed and see if it looks artsy and professional. Your social media is 100 percent a platform for telling the world who you are, and your first opportunity to convey your brand.
If you’re looking to improve your social media brand presence, consider these tips:
- Decide what you’ll post about your personal life. Do it intentionally one way or the other, and be prepared to be judged on it.
- Clean things up. Feel free to go back in your feed and delete posts that aren’t conducive to how you’d like to convey your brand.
- Be everywhere. Social media helps boost SEO.
- Client Experience
Ever experience buyer’s remorse due to a product just not being all it was cracked up to be? Or left a store with a bad taste in your mouth because of how it handled a concern or complaint? This plays a huge part in not only your brand but whether or not your customers will refer you.
It starts with setting expectations and delivering on your promises. Don’t promise your potential clients a great experience if all you do for them is your job. That’s not an experience, that’s what they paid for. The difference between buying clothes at Target and Bloomingdale’s is night and day because one offers an experience and one-on-one customer service, while the other simply offers you clothes.
Part of your brand, and your entire business, is the experience and attention you give your clients. This doesn’t just mean the formulated task list you have for everyone who comes in the door; this also includes how you handle problems as they arise. One of the best ways you can communicate what your company is about is not by how you make your clients feel while everything is hunky dory, but how you make them feel when addressing more difficult issues. The experience is what your clients will tell others about.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to pick on your grammar here—although proper grammar and email etiquette should be a no-brainer. How you speak and the words you use say a lot about your brand.
For example, if you saw a website that was bright and airy and whimsically romantic, and then chatted with that photographer, you’d expect the same cheery personality coming through the other side of the phone, or a smiley face or two in an email. If, on the other hand, you went to a photographer’s site that was more moody and dark, you’d expect to correspond with someone a bit more serious in tone.
How you speak and what your personality is like deeply impacts your brand because you are your brand. This isn’t to say that you need to go change your personality to match your brand. It’s simply to state that who you are, especially if you’re running a boutique studio selling yourself as the primary photographer, is more what your clients are buying than the pictures. As the saying goes, “People don’t pay you for how good you are at what you do, they pay you for how good you are at who you are.”
Where you meet with clients speaks volumes about your brand. Meeting at a Starbucks or Panera? You’re imparting a brand image. If you’re fortunate enough to have studio space, you have much more control over this.
Do yourself a favor and walk into a Toyota dealership, and then a Porsche dealership. After taking one step in the door, you’ll be met with a completely different atmosphere. Without ever taking a look at the cars in the showroom, you’ll know which car is better. You want your clients to know without even seeing your products that you’ve got the best around. Eventually, the reverse ends up being true, and they’ll see your photos or name and correlate it to the atmospheric experience they had, and draw conclusions about you and your brand from it (hopefully good ones).
To maximize your environment, just think of the five senses and walk yourself through your space. What do you see? Messy areas, or neat, color-coordinated spaces? What do you hear and smell? Noisy neighbors and dinner cooking, or a crackling fireplace and lighted candles? Encourage taste and touch by offering them food and drinks and inviting them to hold your albums. Anything you can think of to positively engage the senses will create a lasting impression about your brand.
- What You Wear
This may sound silly, but I have a proven track record on this one. One of the first clients I booked for my own business was a beautiful blonde girl with impeccable fashion sense. I met with her in person for a consultation in pants and a nice shirt. It went OK and I was in her budget, but soon after she asked to meet me again with her maid of honor. Now, knowing what she was like, I chose to wear a fun fashion-forward dress and heels. She commented on it more than once, saying how much she liked it, and she booked with me that week.
What you wear says a lot about your brand. It doesn’t have to be designer clothes, but my more high-end clients relate better to me if I am wearing them. They recognize the designer brand, and I reap the benefit of that brand association.
The second part of this has to do with style. Since I am my brand, I want to dress the part. Rarely do I let my clients see me in dark colors, because my brand is light and airy and pastel logo colors. It may sound silly, but I’ve been told I look like my brand. It’s no accident that I wear a lot of light pink and turquoise and clothes from Free People. It’s all part of my Vanessa Joy brand and how I want my clients and potential clients to view me.
Check out this video for more on visual branding do’s and dont’s.