5 details your brand could be missing
Branding is probably the single most elusive shape-shifter of a department in your business.
But why? Well, that’s actually easy: branding is about connecting to your client through their feelings. Emotional connections make up the foundation of branding, and that’s why it’s so powerful. But feelings are inherently subjective and are hard to nail down. Everyone feels differently, and unique backgrounds make it nearly impossible to predict what your customer might feel about anything. It’s not exactly a science, and it’s tough to communicate.
As we mention in Business Breakdown, the part of your brain that processes emotion is far away from the part of your brain that processes language. Some people have a lot of practice connecting these two areas of their brains, and with practice have become able to form deeper connections and pathways between language and feeling. What that means for you is that, as you continue to learn about your client and the way they feel about things, you’ll get better at solidifying your own branding.
But, in the beginning, it’s like closing your eyes and throwing a handful of darts at the board, hoping something hits a bullseye. You’re not even aiming, just blindly tossing them. That’s because branding is really subjective. Every client has a different background, and there’s no exact science to getting your branding right. It’s not like finance, where all you need to do is plug in the correct formulas for it to work… it’s a soft skill. That’s why some companies spend thousands of dollars to work their branding out – from tasks like creating the right logo, to building the perfect font, to getting brand colors exactly right. What’s more, branding touches every single aspect of your company. It lights up the five senses, so it’s embedded at every level in your business. Thus, you’re faced with a task that’s incredibly important, yet so difficult to nail down.
Because of this, many entrepreneurs make common missteps when creating the branding for their companies. Luckily for you, we’ve got a couple good places to start making changes so that you can nail down the right brand for your business:
You’re creating a brand for you, not for your business
Your business IS NOT YOU. So many entrepreneurs make this mistake. Their business is so ingrained in them, that they think the business likes the same things they like.
Your business is an entirely separate entity – it’s just run by you. It’s got its own personality and its own tastes. If you were taking your business on a date, my guess is you would have no clue what it would want to eat for dinner. And yes, that’s definitely a branding question.
You’re skipping the small details
Small details matter here, because you’re creating an experience. Ignoring the nitty-gritty can make your brand feel disingenuous, because if it was natural, the minutiae wouldn’t require a second thought. It would just be there. That’s what your customer is really looking for: a genuine connection that just clicks into place.
You’re not tailoring it to the right person
“But my brand is for everyone.” – “I have multiple ideal clients.” – No. Stop that. Stop it right now. You might want to sell to multiple clients, but you only have ONE opportunity to build a brand. In the future, you may be able to switch it up for different people, but right now, you’ve got one chance. If you build a brand that’s supposed to be “for everyone,” then it’s going to be muddy and wishy-washy. No one wants that. It’s easy to see when a company is trying to water down the brand in order to appeal to a giant audience, and the result is that no one will identify with what you’re doing. That’s why you need to pick ONE ideal client who fits into the right category on the spectrum of Everett Rogers’ Law of Diffusion of Innovation, and make sure you’re giving them exactly what they need. That creates a domino effect and helps to build your brand with true spirit.
You’re assuming you know everything.
You don’t, you never have, and you never will. That’s because it’s not your job to know everything. Also, the only person you know everything about is you. But, you’re not creating a brand for yourself, you’re creating it for your client. That’s why you need to stop making guesses and go ask them.
Make a friend with a client who 1) is the sort of person other people pay attention to, 2) buys from you frequently, and 3) knows who they are and is steadfast in their opinions. My guess is that as a small business, you’re doing some in-person events, so you could be getting to know this individual during a pop-up or speaking event, or you could even see who they are through social media. You have the power to find them – you just need to take the time to do it. Believe me when I say that if you do this, you’ll save yourself time, effort, and money, and will develop a brand that’s truer to your company than it would be if you were relying on your assumptions.
You’re outsourcing your brand without getting to know it
So, let’s say you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. Let’s say you decided that you wanted to hire someone to handle the branding so you could do the main job of running your business without those pesky branding tasks taking up your time. That’s awesome, because it develops a brand while you have your hands full with other things, BUT there’s a big downside – if you aren’t involved, then it’s likely you don’t know your brand.
Think of your brand like a friend. When you first meet, it’s a little awkward, but you know you want to try to be buds. So over time, you get some drinks, you hang out, and eventually you have a library of inside jokes and matching decoder rings. Your brand is the same. You need to take the time to get to know it, understand it, develop it, and nurture it. If you hand the brand to someone else without developing the parts that make your brand “work” then the relationship won’t click over time. What’s worse is that because your branding is the “feeling” that goes with every single aspect of your company, it’s going to spill out into those other areas as well. So, make sure you aren’t MIA, because you can’t develop a relationship with your new brand buddy if you’re off gallivanting elsewhere.
All in all, your branding comes down to this:
You need to acknowledge your company has its own personality, and be flexible and willing to learn that personality.
You need your company to have a separate brand identity from you as the founder.
You need to shape the brand based on your ideal client’s needs, not your own.
You need to be willing to admit you don’t know everything, and ask for help from your clients so you can create a genuine brand relationship with them.
You need to develop a strong relationship with your brand as if it’s another person you want to get to know.
Still have questions about branding? Sign up for our email list, and we’ll give you the lowdown on our signature course, Business Breakdown, which features a walk-through of the entire branding process
Hi there, I'm Cat Bradley
Founder of SewEthico, systems enthusiast, marketing expert, and nonprofit career alum. I help women founders build their first marketing departments and structure their company around their clients, so they can grow, prove traction, and gain funding for their mission-driven businesses. Get my support to grow your business.