If you use social media or are involved in the online industry in some way, you’ve probably heard of the buzzword branding. This term has been used to describe anything from social media color schemes, to website layouts, to sponsored content. However, what branding truly means is identity. Creating a unique brand will not only help you and your work stand out, but give you a niche in your industry that will bring you more opportunities, clients, and jobs.
Creating a unique brand is all about knowing yourself and what you want to present to potential employers. You’ll first want to focus on what sets you apart from the competition and what you can label as ‘you.’ If you’re a writer, you’ll want to consider your style and voice. For a lifestyle blogger, you might want to consider your geographical location, or what type of content you share: tips, info on current events, etc. From there, you’ll want to reshape everything around your purpose. Is your goal to inform? Entertain? Inspire? Think about what you’re wanting to do with your work and career and use that to shape your branding goals.
When you think about what identifies as ‘you’ and your work, what goal you’re looking to serve, and what’s essential to your business (if you’re a potential or developed business owner), you can start creating a unique brand that will legitimize you, and bring you potential customers.
1. Identify your purpose and goals.
As I said above, finding your purpose is the most important aspect of the brand building process. Your purpose includes both your personal and professional goals: Who am I and how can I use my branding to show who I am? What do I want to do with my work/business? How can I best use and showcase my talents in order to find jobs etc.?
When you determine the why behind your profession and business, you’ll know how to start your branding process. For example, if you want to build yourself as a children’s book author, you might want to create an Instagram page that shares quotes and illustrations, rather than salesy type posts. On the other hand, if you have a business, you would probably use more sponsored and salesy posts to drive users to purchase products and services.
Knowing the why (why you’re doing this) and the who (who you are as a creator, business owner, or person) can help to shape your branding in a way that supports you.
2. Focus on your theme and identity.
This is slightly similar to the above point, but the focus, here, is to develop your identity. After you think about who you are and what your goals are, you’ll want to think about how you can show others that person/creator through your branding.
Think about what social media posts will truly represent you, or what type of layout can best showcase your work. As you’re creating a personal website, for example, you’ll definitely want to think about the layout, colors, landing pages, or navigation to point your users to what you want them to see first. For me, I wanted a site that would be bright and colorful because my personality is a bit loud. I also wanted to create a set landing page with navigation to other parts of my website so that it would be clear who I am before you read my writing. This is up to you, though! Whatever makes sense but showcases your identity is crucial for your branding strategy.
3. Pick schemes that represent you and your business best.
What is most important to show your users about you first? When a person stumbles on your website, do you want them to jump right into your content or read about you? If someone finds your Instagram page, do you want them to see a few, set colors or a mix of hues? These are just a few simple questions, but use them to guide you.
Creating a unique brand is about user-friendly thinking. What will your users like? Or, alternatively, what do you want them to see? Pick your colors, layouts, schemes, etc. after considering those two questions.
4. Start formulating your branding avenues.
As you begin your branding, think about the means in which you’ll showcase this unique brand. Social media is obviously one of the strongest avenues, but you can brand through your website, too, as well as offline content. For example, stationary, address labels, business cards, etc.
5. Launch your unique brand.
When you’ve set your unique brand, and created your schemes and layouts, you are ready to launch! If you’re just beginning, this step is easy: just go for it! If you’re already established, perhaps create some excitement. Let your followers know you’re updating your website or changing your color scheme. Do a countdown until the official launch date, or perhaps gift an item related to your change to a lucky subscriber.
When you create hype around your brand launch you’re not only getting people excited for the new look and feel of your business/webpage etc. but you’re establishing yourself, thus becoming more relevant to potential clients and customers.
6. Stay consistent.
An important aspect of branding is remembering that consistency is key. If you create a logo, for example, you’ll want to stick with that logo rather than switching or creating a new one. Changing your brand, layouts, colors, etc. frequently can cause confusion or frustration as people will look for you or your company and not know whether they’ve come to the right place. (That’s why a launch is important if you’re changing what you’ve already established!)
You’ll want, as much as possible, to stay consistent so your users and followers know who you are and see that you’re a legitimate business/person/company they would consider working with.
7. Reshape as you grow.
With the above being said, you don’t have to feel stuck with a certain brand or style. As you and your business grows, it’s important to keep shaping and reshaping to fit your audience and your personal identity. Don’t be scared to change what you have, but remember to keep your followers privy to these changes, in order to reduce confusion and maintain your network.
Featured Image Credit: Bert Ferranco