Sure, everyone knows what a brand is. Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s. But that buzzword is getting thrown around a whole lot in career and job search conversations these days, too. And you might be thinking to yourself, “why do I really have to care about this?”
Here’s why: Whether you’re on the job hunt, a student, or gainfully employed, you must think, act, and plan like a business leader. With the surge of social media, you have not only the ability, but you now have the need to manage your own reputation, both online and in real life.
Employers will Google you before they even invite you to an interview. (Your current employer probably has an eye on what you’re doing, too.) And when you interact with people, both online and offline, they’ll build up an image of who you are over time.
A good place to start is by asking what exactly a brand is. A brand is much more than just a logo and is rather an ethos – a mission statement and an approach to business. That logo simply tells people that the product or service they’re receiving adheres to the same standards as whatever else they have used from you in the past.
You start your brand by choosing why it is that you do whatever it is you do. Why should people care about your business? How are you different from other companies offering the same thing? How do you want the world to change, as a result of your business being a part of it? This is what allows a company like Apple to capture the imaginations of billions of people and to create such loyal customers.
Apple isn’t just about selling hardware – it’s about making beautiful hardware that feels personal and that is aimed very much at creative, rule-breaking individuals as opposed to big businesses.When the first Apple computer was released, the only competition was IBM and by taking this stance, Apple was able to differentiate itself a lot and get a lot of excited followers as a result.
The same goes for many businesses that are setting out to create a greener planet. These companies are doing something more than just making money – and their fans love them for it. This is enough to make people choose their products instead of the same products offered by another business. And this ethos means that people know instantly that the service is aimed at people like them.
So ask yourself what the driving motivation behind your business is when creating your brand. You’re a fitness company? Okay. But what is it that you really believe in? WHY is fitness important to you and to your customers?Do you think that people are happier when they’re well? Do you want to help the average person to have a more fulfilled life thanks to a healthy lifestyle and diet?
Or do you love the idea of becoming more powerful? Are you all about building strength and speed and challenging the limits of human potential?These two companies might sell the exact same product but the way they go about it is completely different. And if you can convey this mission statement, then you’ll find that the right type of customer will go absolutely nuts for your brand.
That’s the kind of customer whose vision is aligned with yours. Don’t try and appeal to everyone – that will never work. Instead, try to appeal to apple more to the right kind of person.
Creating Your Logo
One way to do this is through your logo and your web design. The objective of a great logo is to communicate what your business is all about. You are trying to tell people what you sell and why you sell it as soon as they look at your business. Say your company was all about health and natural products, then you might make a logo that had a tree in it, or a heart. It would probably be green in color and have an uplifting, healthy-sounding name.
Conversely, if your business is all about punishing workouts in the gym, then your logo might include a picture of a dumbbell and have the word ‘iron’ in it somewhere. The idea is that the combination of your logo, company name and perhaps blog posts is enough to tell any visitor to your site right away that this is a company that’s aimed squarely at them and that they’re going to love. This should also extend throughout your site design.
Meanwhile, make sure that your logo is designed using a vector file (meaning that it’s made in Illustrator or a similar piece of software that keeps it easy for you to edit and resize) and avoid using clichés. Once again, this is a good place to invest a little of your own money upfront – it will pay off to a massive degree in the long term.
Building Your Audience and Creating Trust
The mistake a lot of people make is to try and sell right away. This can work sometimes but it is not generally the best way to build trust, grow an audience and ultimately secure the best long term profits. That’s because it’s somewhat similar to walking up to an attractive stranger in a bar and asking if they want to come home with you. 99.99% of the time, this will be met with a slap! Most people prefer to get to know the person propositioning them at least a little bit at first!
So instead, you need to try and introduce yourself properly and let the person feel they know you and can trust you first. This is the exact same for a business when you’re trying to sell something – imagine approaching a stranger in the street and asking if they want to buy from you!
This is the basic concept of content marketing – to build an audience of people who love your content and who trust your opinion so that you can convince them to buy the products you recommend and so that you can keep bringing people back to your site time and again, giving yourself multiple opportunities to make a sale.The way you do this is to start by writing high quality content and to post this to a blog on a regular basis.
The more you write and the more you research your subject matter and make it different and interesting, the fast you will build a dedicated audience that you can sell to. Demonstrate that you really know what you’re talking about, that you only recommend things that you genuinely believe in and that your audience can trust you to be a resource for more useful ideas and information.
Likewise, try to build your mailing list and social media presence. Incorporate your brand strongly on all of your social media pages and in anything else you create, so that people will know they’re dealing with the same business. Getting someone to follow you on social media when they think they might be interested in your brand, is far easier than getting them to buy a product from you and actually spend money!
Your social media accounts will meanwhile help you to bring more new customers to your site by letting people share with their network. You can help this too by providing social sharing buttons that will let people easily ‘Like’ your content on Facebook or ‘Tweet’ it to Twitter.
Only once you have generated a big audience of people regularly coming to your site, should you then start thinking about introducing products to your page. If you have really created a brand you believe in and if you’ve been providing real value in your content, then you should find that you have true fans. And true fans will be desperate to buy your products when you start selling them!
More Ways to Promote Your Products
Of course, there are many additional methods you can use to send more customers to your products and to market your store. One option is to create your own affiliate program and to encourage more people to help market your items. Another method is to pay for advertising – whether this is a pay-per-click campaign through Google AdWords, or whether it is an advert on Facebook that is highly targeted to your specific demographic.
This works well in scenarios where you’re selling from eBay or Amazon and aren’t trying to build up an audience.
If you’re going to pay for advertising though, then you need to calculate the LCV (Lifetime Customer Value) of each customer. This will allow you to ensure that whatever you spend on your ads, you are making more back and thus seeing strong ROI.