TL;DR: Read to the bottom to get your hands on a FREE copy of my super-duper brand values list!
Once upon a time, not so long ago, when we thought of the word ‘brand’, giants like Coca Cola, Nike & McD’s would come to mind. Nowadays though, everyone who is anyone is working on their branding.
But maybe all the talk & information overload has left you scratching your head when it comes to getting clear on your branding. So thought I would try and lend a hand by sharing a few of my favorite pearls of wisdom that I have picked up over the last couple of years.
Let’s start with one of my favorite quotes from the ultimate entrepreneur, Seth Godin:
“A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one service over another.”
When you’re the person who is behind your business, one of your main goals should be to make genuine, individual connections with people. I know you probably hear this a lot but that is simply because it is TRUE. I heard someone once refer to it as ‘experience building’ and I find it really helps to think about your brand in that way. How can you build an experience that prompts people to choose your service or product over the plethora of other choices they have available at their fingertips? Because at the end of the day, they are experiencing YOU.
You are the brand.
There is a lot of emotion and feeling behind a person’s decision to buy, more so I find with women (:: gets ready for lots of farming & accusations of gender bias but sticks to her opinion::). People are not just buying on impulse and automatic pilot anymore. So, the way that you build relationships with your potential clients is critical to the success of your brand.
As human beings, we are all unique & fascinating with our own individual stories, perspectives, experiences, challenges & passions and we love to dig into a good story about other people with their own individual stories, perspectives, experiences, challenges & passions! We have to be able to make that connection with our potential clients on a personal, deeper level. Asking them to buy from you on a constant basis is NOT exeperince building.
And look here (::wags finger::) I am not saying that you have to make yourself uncomfortable and share all your private thoughts or spill your juicy secrets for all to behold. What I’m trying to convey is a very VERY overused cliché that happens to be a cliche because it’s TRUE!! –
“But SARAH! how do I ‘be myself’?
Well Dear Reader, start by sitting down with a pen & paper & thinking about how you are going to find your own unique space in this overcrowded, noisy online community. You are already unique, fascinating, passionate & have so much to give. You just have to take the time to dig about and bring it all to the surface.
Think about the people who you enjoy following online. The ones who really resonate with you – chances are, these are the people who are already doing this. Sharing their truths, doing their thing, with their own unique style & twist (some more twisted than others..)
Remember that not everyone will connect with you, you may turn some people off, but that is FINE! Not everyone is for you & you are not for everyone. The magic is in finding your people & building your audience. It’s in the telling of your stories that people will relate to & connect with or learn from. It’s through the way that you make people feel when you show up online.
So how do we know what to share & how? How do we know if it’s right for us & if it’s right for our audience?
I like to use a tool that I wish I could credit to someone but I don’t exactly know where it came from. The tool is The 4 V’s, which are: Values, Vision, Voice & Visuals. When you can run everything through the filter of these 4 v’s, it makes the process a lot easier.
Let’s take a quick look at each of the V’s.
‘Values’ are a great place to start. They are important to all of us and (hopefully) we all have them if we really take the time to think about it. At the beginning of the year, I sit down and write a list of my core values that are aligned with both my personal & business life. After I have rated the ones that really resonate with me, I pick just 3 for the year that I am really going to pay attention to. I come back to those words every so often and they remind me how to keep on track.
Our second V is ‘Vision’ – Nailing your vision can be a hard one but it is vital to know what your plan is, where you are heading, what are your milestone goals along the way, who you are serving & why. It helps to keep your head clear & keep you confident & focused.
Do you have a vision statement?
If you are like me, you’ll enjoy getting inspiration from others. I really enjoyed this list & the notion that:
“The best visions are inspirational, clear, memorable, and concise”
The next V is ‘Voice’ – Your voice is the way that you come across in your writing & video (if you show up on video). For me, my voice is mainly written, but either way, it’s all about the language that you use, your unique style, sense of humor, flavor, vibe. It can take some time to nail your voice; I find it’s like decorating a home. There are so many styles that you may like, but in the end there’s essentially one that you will find that is uniquely you and you’ll stick with it & stay true to it.
Our final V is ‘Visuals’ – You didn’t think I was going to write an article about branding without mentioning photography now did you?! People will get to know you through what you write & the design, color & images you use in your branding. And even though this all sounds really exciting & bright & shiny, it is something that is hard to narrow down without first focusing on the other 3 v’s. Once you understand where you are with those, it will make life so much easier for you when you start the process of nailing your visuals.
And finally, for those of you who are still here, or who skipped to the end to see if there was any good stuff, here’s the good stuff!
I’ve been working really hard over the last few months, collecting some really useful ‘brand values’ for you. I’ve added to the list gradually and I think you’ll find it’s pretty comprehensive but if you think of a word that should belong on the list, please do let me know!