10 Things to Know About Your Brand

top10Branding – the idea of creating an image, sound, word, that conveys an instantaneous message – is both and art and a science.  The art is in the creativity, finding just the right image and word and sound combination to trigger an emotional response in your customers.  The science is understanding what triggers certain behaviors, tracking your progress, measuring your success.

As an entrepreneur, consultant or what I call an “independent professional” there is so much to learn about branding that it is sometimes hard to know where to start.  When embarking on any branding activity ask yourself these 10 questions.

  1. Who is your target audience? You can solve a customer problem if you don’t know who the customers are.  Focus on them and they will help you answer the rest of these questions.
  2. What is your brand promise? What does the company stands for?  What is the single most important thing that the organization promises to deliver to its customers? What do you want customers, employees, and partners to expect from EVERY interaction with you.
  3. What is your unique value proposition? What do you offer that no one else does?  How do you want customers to FEEL about your organization after interacting with you?
  4. What are your key messages? Customer messages are divided into core ideas which are made relevant by including supporting statements that reinforce the idea (data, benefits, features, etc.)  These are the ideas that your customers think are important – not the one you think they think are important.
  5. What is your brand personality? Illustrate what the organization wants its brand to be known for. Think about specific personality traits you want prospects, clients, employees, and partners to use to describe your organization. You should have 4-6 traits (5 is ideal), each being a single term (usually an adjective).
  6. What is the tone of your brand communications? Think of the voice, tone and language used to communicate your brand?  Does it relate to your customers?  Does it relate to your personality?  does it support your promise?
  7. What is the ONE thing that you want people to take away from your brand? If you can only communicate one thing to you customers what would it be? What is the single most important thing to them (not to you).
  8. How do you describe your brand? Your description should include Aa brief explanation of how you solve their problem using important details of the offering that reinforce the key messages and differentiation.
  9. Do you have a tagline? A tagline is a brief statement that captures the essence of your brand in a few words.
  10. How do you personally feel about the answers to these questions? If your gut tells you that this isn’t authentic, or that this is the same stuff you’ve been saying for years, then you should listen.

Do you know your customers?

Your customers are the ones you want to convince to buy your stuff…whatever your stuff is.  So you better know them, understand them and communicate with them or you are not going to be successful.  That’s a bold statement, but it is true.yellow-blue guy

I love it when I talk to an entrepreneur and ask them “Do you know who your target customers are”?  Nine times out of ten they say something like “Well, everyone could benefit from my product.”  Wrong!  While you might want to think that everyone on the planet wants your new software, your bookkeeping services, or your fantastic new widget, not everyone does.  Get over it.  Find the people who do want it and market to them.  As an entrepreneur, you don’t have the time, money or energy to market your business to everyone on the planet.  It is much more effective to find the people who need your stuff and directly market to them.

Defining your ideal customer is the second most important thing you can do to build your business.  Remember the first was defining your business goal.  The second is defining your ideal customer.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about social media , PR or online advertising – if you don’t know this stuff, you won’t be effective.

Start by identifying who your customers are using standard demographics like age, sex, influencers, vertical markets, company-size, or revenue.  Then find out what they care about and the reason for it.  Finally, figure out the problem they are trying to solve?  This is what THEY are trying to solve, not what you think they are trying to solve.

Once you know who they are, you need to know where they go for information.  Do they spend time online, offline, with industry leaders, in their community, do they read magazines or blogs?   Understanding the problem your customers are trying to solve is the third most important thing you need to know.  You can now communicate to a specific group of people whpo have a problem that you you can uniquely solve.  They are looking for something you have.  Now go out and tell them all about it!