Do you have a plan in place for your branding efforts? Or do you leave branding as more of an afterthought (or not really think about it at all)?
Your brand is much more than your logo and other visual elements. Your brand defines how your business is positioned in the market. The way it communicates with your audience. The overall tone and voice.
For service-based business, a well-defined brand is key to building a business that has longevity because it resonates with people. That’s why I’m going to strongly recommend that you build your brand proactively. Here’s what I mean by that.
Proactive branding vs reactive branding
If you’re building your brand proactively, it means you know what your brand stands for. You know its values, its purpose, its intended audience and its style. There’s no confusion about what it means to be “on-brand”.
On the other hand, if there hasn’t been the same initial care and thought to define your brand, it could be that you’re building your brand more reactively. In this case, you might only put a conscious effort into developing your brand when it becomes an issue.
For example, you realise you need a stronger message supporting your marketing, or that you want to attract clients that are different than the type you keep getting. So, you decide your brand needs “fixing”. At this point, you can switch to being more proactive with your brand!
If you’re not sure whether you’re branding proactively or reactively, here are 4 questions that you can ask yourself.
Do you have a brand strategy in place?
Just as having a business plan helps you plan for success in the operational side of things, a brand strategy helps you plan in the client-facing aspects. With clients being the life-blood of your business, this is clearly very important!
Having a brand strategy is a big part of building a brand proactively. It defines what your brand stands for, who it’s for, and what it looks, sounds and feels like. It gives you direction and allows you to market your business with intention.
Have you got a well-defined ideal client?
I think of your brand as the relationship between your business and your audience. The best way to make sure you can nurture a great relationship (and therefore a great brand) is to know exactly what your audience is like. Who are they, and what do they need from you? What are their dreams and goals?
With proactive branding, you understand exactly who your business exists to serve. A such, you’re able to very effectively communicate with them. You know what their pain points are and how to address them. You can paint that picture of what it will feel for them to reach their desired outcome.
Are you constantly comparing your business to others?
Something a healthy brand does for your business is give it a unique voice and style. While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking at what your competitors are doing, you shouldn’t seek to constantly copy their strategies and tactics. That’s a sign that you haven’t got a strong brand in place yet.
When you’re proactive about creating your brand, you should develop a solid sense of what is the right direction for your business. It helps to give you clarity and a strong standpoint. No more having to look at everyone else for ideas. You can find inspiration from within your brand.
Is your visual branding consistent?
This one can be a dead give-away. If every piece of marketing and branding collateral has different colours, typefaces and versions of your logo, then it’s clear that there isn’t a strategy in place for how you plan to tie your brand together.
Your brand identity is how you project the image you want your brand to have. First you have to know what that brand is, and then you need to consistently display your business in a way that supports that brand. It’s important for recognisability, building trust, and just, plain, looking good.
So, I pass the question to you: Are you building your brand proactively, or reactively? If it’s reactively, do you intend to turn that around and take more charge over the brand you present to the world?
If you’re interested in doing that, the first step is planning out your brand! Check out my free Core Brand Pillars Workbook for a step-by-step guide to help you through the process. All the best with it!
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