When it comes to standing out in the online world, it’s pretty hard to look unique.
Take a look at a few brands and businesses that are in the same field as you. I bet that preeetty much everywhere you look you’ll find gold textures galore, really hard-to-read text overlaying some obviously-not-stock-but-is-stock photo images and glitter. Glitter everywhere.
Now these are just a select few of my pet peeves (I’ll explain more of why these are a BAD idea to include in your brand another day), but can you see the problem here?
None of these businesses or brands are powerful, because they’re all trying to be the same.
To create a truly powerful brand, you have to accept that you are a creative-minded person, with your own opinions, your own values and your own beliefs. And own the heck out of them.
While there are 3 main actions you can take to build a more powerful brand, I believe that you have to start from within. And by that, I mean dig deep to figure out exactly what matters to you. Ask yourself some of these questions: What do you believe in? What do you stand for? What matters most to you in your work? What message do you want to share with the world? What do you really want to say?
The key to knowing all of what you want to say - and doing it? Don’t be afraid of what other people will think of you.
It’s easy to say you believe in something, but until you start sharing it and injecting all of that goodness into your brand + business at a larger level, I’m sorry - but it means nothing.
Once you know what you want to share with the world, you can start to take action. And that’s where the 3 secrets to a powerful brand step in.
Now I’m talking about true connection, that REAL relationship that you choose to build with somebody - not making friends with everybody you see in Facebook groups. In business, you want to build connections with three types of people:
- Your audience. These are the people that value your work, your values and the message you share. Without an audience you have no business. Your audience are the people that become your valued customers, who will shout about you + what you have to say, who will support you and want to learn more from you. And the win-win is that the more value you give, the more that you put out into the world…the more your audience will grow.
- Your customers. These are the people that buy from you. In my business, I have two types of customers: my clients (for my 1:1 branding and website design work) and those that purchase my products (my books + courses). These are the most important people in your business. Keep your customers happy and they will turn into adoring fans - over deliver on the experience your customers have with you (from pre-sale to well beyond) and you’ll have an incredibly powerful army of customers who will continually bring more of their friends into the fold - and into your tribe.
- People that are in the same field / industry as you - but are further ahead. Jim Rohn is quoted as saying that “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. I’ve always loved this quote and I’m (now) fiercely protective of the energy I choose to surround myself with. There are more than 5 people that I love to spend time with, but by also allowing myself the permission to spend time with people further ahead in their business and on their journey than me, I get the chance to learn something new. I don’t pretend to know it all and I love it most when I have something new to learn. By surrounding myself with people that lift me up and inspire me to reach the level they’re at, I get to learn so much - whether it’s around mindset, a new design or development technique, or that really - realising that everyone (even at a super high level) is just a normal person, like me and you.
A few practical ways that you can start connecting more are:
- Actually sending out that email newsletter you set up and forgot about
- Replying to comments on your blog or on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook
- Putting a CTA (Call to Action) at the end of every blog post or email newsletter, inviting your readers to respond to a question you ask
- Emailing people you admire and letting them know what you love about them / their work / their business. (Side note: I used to do this once a month, just to be nice. It’s a great way of connecting with people and it’s nice to let people know how much you love their work!)
Once you start focusing on connection as one of your primary aims in business, you are one step into creating a more powerful brand. It’s so easy to not focus on building real relationships and focus on the numbers - like building your list, your twitter followers or Facebook page likes. But in the end it’s the true connections you’ve made that will create a long-lasting, long-term difference in your business.
I’m laughing as I write this one, because this is something I’ve REALLY struggled with. But that said, consistency is one of the most important things you can create in your business.
When you are consistently getting in touch with somebody (not so often that you’re RIGHTINTHEIRFACE 24/7), you start to become familiar. And familiarity is what builds trust. And trust (and credibility) is what makes a member of your audience more likely to become a customer.
Consistency isn’t just sending out your weekly email newsletter (though that will help). Consistency is built into everything that you do as a business and everything that you release into the wild. This might include:
- Your Visual Brand. This is everything from your logo (though evolutions of brands are great to see, please don’t change it all the time. A good logo should be timeless and free of gimmicks) through to your colour palette, your typography styles, photography styles (and filters) and more. The more consistent you can keep your visual brand style, the more familiar your audience becomes with you and your brand. If that is visually a bit crazy with loads of patterns - great, but keep it that way. If it’s polished and clean? Great - but keep it that way.
- Your Tone of Voice. This is all about the words you use when communicating with your audience and breaking it down even further, can be your language style, writing style and so on. Any point that you communicate with your audience through words, you want to make sure that the tone matches the style you’ve been using for a while. If you don’t eff-and-jeff (swear, for those not from Northern England like myself) then don’t start planting the f-bomb into your sentences. Meanwhile, if that’s your jam then go right ahead and keep swearing. But again: keep it consistent.
- Frequency. This is down to when you send out info to your audience, such as your weekly newsletter, “important" social media posts (like launch posts) and so on. If your audience becomes used to seeing your newsletter on a specific day, it’s something they can look forward to. If they don’t know when you’re going to get in touch, you can’t build that sub-conscious excitement and anticipation. Keep it consistent.
Consistency is normally a challenge for anybody - it’s harder than it looks to keep up with a schedule that can easily suck hours out of your normal working week. But the payoff is more than worth the time it takes to implement and consistently communicate with your audience.
Believe me when I say consistently creating content (try saying that fast 10 times!) is one of the biggest challenges for me - but there are a few things that help me personally to cope with that challenge:
- PLAN. Yep, this one deserves to be in capitals. Plan, plan and plan some more. By planning what you want to say in advance it makes it a heck of a lot easier to be committed and to follow through. Plan both what you want to say in a broader way by creating an editorial calendar, where you plot what type of content you want to put out, which days and when. I recently got the chance (at long last!) to work with my biz bestie Layla Saad, who helped me figure out how to more powerfully position myself and my work. Part of that work was guiding me to create an editorial calendar and it’s been a HUGE relief to see everything set out in a way that makes sense to my (often kinda crazy) brain. Also take the time to plan out each individual piece of content, so that you know the points you want to cover and don’t go off on mindless rambles. Mind map (or brain fart, as I like to call them) around the topics you want to cover, and then put them in bullet points. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to create content when you know what you want to cover!
- Create a routine. I’m a huge fan of routines. And lists. By combing the two, it’s a creating content consistently match made in heaven. If you create a routine to how you create your content, it will only help you switch into the mindset much quicker. I find that having a specific way that I start writing my written blogs helps. I brain fart (mind map) around the topic I’m covering, pick out the key points and break it down. Then I take the time to get into the headspace (for me that sometimes means meditating, cuddles with my two crazy dogs or popping my favourite classical track on. At the moment it’s The Piano Guys with "Beethoven’s 5 Secrets”) before I sit down and WRITE. And as my wonderful client + friend Kelly Azevedo likes to say - just keep your bum on the chair ’til it’s done.
- Stay committed. It’s really hard to keep creating things - particularly when you have a day where you simply can’t be bothered. But stay the course and keep doing it, even when it gets hard. Having a schedule and a content calendar will help, but they mean nothing if you don’t do the work. Find a way to make creating your content fun and it will be a lot easier for you to stay committed.
Once you start building your routine into communicating and displaying your brand consistently to your audience, you’ll notice that your engagement should start to lift. People love consistency as it feels familiar to them - and you can then use it to your advantage, by being inconsistent to really get the attention of your audience at a time outside of the norm.
In any business, trust is a huge factor in whether someone or not will buy from you. In online business? It’s even more important. We don’t have the advantage that brick-and-mortar stores have by being able to be there, right in front of their customer. Instead, we have to use the previous two points, and many more, to help convince our audience that we are trustworthy, credible and an expert at what we do. The advantage we do have is that we can use many more neat tricks to convince our customers to buy from us…24/7.
Building credibility isn’t something that will happen overnight - it will instead take time and due diligence to build up slowly, over time. If you think about Spiderman or Superman helping their own cities - the trust didn’t arrive straight away, but instead built up over time as they helped more and more people out.
In the same way, you can build credibility and your reputation by being someone that gives back to your community, your audience and your customers. Make sure that every level of interaction that they have with you is top notch and without fault. One simple way of doing this is to create nurture sequences for people that join your email list, so instead of them being thrown into your weekly newsletter, they are welcomed gently into your online tribe.
But remember as well: that nobody is perfect. If you want to build credibility and get your audience to trust you, you need to be real and down to earth with them too. Keep it real, share your struggles AND your achievements and don’t be afraid of being vulnerable. Try to think of a time when you felt more truly connected to one of your favourite online entrepreneurs - I bet you felt reassured and that they were like YOU when they shared where they were truly at in that moment in time.
So there you have it. The 3 secrets to a more powerful brand.
These are things that you can put into action straight away - but results won't necessarily happen overnight. Take the time to implement them properly in your business and you’ll notice a huge difference in the way your audience engages with you and connects with you over time.
I’d love to know - which of these do you think you struggle with most? For me - it’s consistency. Let me know your own in the comments below.