There has been a lot of talking about branding lately and I thought I’d weigh in on the matter because I’m too lazy to think of a completely new topic. Thinking about this there are actually THREE main ways that you can build a brand (there are probably more but I can’t be assed thinking of more than three – remember I’m lazy).
You can brand your website/name.
This is what most internet marketers are doing right now. It can range from getting a funky name that’s easy for your visitors to remember to building a perception or idea of what you want your visitor to think or feel when they visit your site.
It’s probably the simplest way to start branding because you can tie in both visual elements (your blog logo and site design) and your content together making it easy for people to instantly know at a glance what the site is about.
This works best if you know the direction that you want your site to be in and what you want to accomplish with it. Your marketing focus should be you want a person to remember your site name or brand rather than find you via search terms (which is still important but not the same as being known for your brand).
You can tell if a company is branding its name or business if you think of that brand instead of the object.
Ask someone which is the first search engine they think of and they’ll say Google. If you have to send a parcel, people will tell you to Fed Ex it. These are examples of name brands.
Branding Your Products/Services
Not everyone wants to create a name brand however, and instead build their brand around their products or services.
Apple is a good example for branding their products rather than themselves (even though Apple itself is still a strong name brand). But generally they will brand their products from placing i in front of them: iPad, iPhone, iPod etc or their Mac products which they’ve even created persona’s for as being cool hip computers.
They are branding their PRODUCTS to be the first thing that you think of when you want a tablet, smartphone etc.
Amazon also does this with its Kindle. It’s branding that as the number one e-reader.
You would want to pursue this type of branding if you want your PRODUCT or SERVICE to be the first thing customers think of when looking for your ‘thing’.
Tim Ferris did this well with 4 hour work week as one of the number one business books for entrepreneurs. (You could also argue that Ferris is also a person brand, however his focus has mainly been on his book hence why his website is called 4hourworkweek.com and not timferris.com).
I may have joked around about this in the past (no I actually don’t really have a tattoo on my ass guys – I’m a conservative mother of two dont’cha know – it’s really on my boob) but branding yourself is another great way of building your business.
It’s probably slightly egotistical (since you are effectively saying that YOU are more important than your product) but it can also help build your profile much faster than building a website since people connect with other people much faster than connecting with a website.
Celebrities are good examples of this (including iconic ‘person’ brands such as Martha Stewart, Oprah, Snooki) but you don’t need to be famous to be known as yourself in certain circles. Just mention ‘Griz’ in my internet marketing circles and most of my colleagues will instantly know this is. Whether it was his intention or not, he has branded himself as the guru of search engine marketing.
In fact once you get to first name basis in your ‘circles’ then you’ve effectively branded yourself as an authority on your subject and it’s just a matter of expanding on that to become more widely known.
The reason why branding is important is that it’s the first thing that people think of when they are looking for your ‘thing’. And that builds loyalty, trust and repeat business. Which leads to MONEY BABY.
Often choosing which type of branding you want to do will help you to focus on that aspect of your business. Whether that’s your biz name, your product, or you.
How to build your brand
Ok so you’ve chosen where to focus your branding; now how do you actually do that?
The easiest way to go about this is to specialise and drill down. And I mean down down down. Be specific specific specific.
So, let’s say your niche is microwave ovens. Just trying to become the best microwave oven site isn’t enough. It’s too general and isn’t really going to brand you (no matter how many ‘authority’ articles you write – sorry).
What you want to do is become, say, the best microwave oven website for guys going to college. Then you need to tightly focus your entire site to JUST focusing on that customer. Write to him. Get into his head about what he wants to do with his microwave oven. His needs are likely to be a lot different to a mother of three. For example he may only want to use it to heat ramen noodles or defrost the beer he left in the freezer (and he’ll need to be told that this is a BAAAD idea).
You want to be the first thing that guys going to college think about when they are in the market to buy a microwave. They’ll ask their buddies that they are thinking of buying a microwave and their buds will say your website is the best. You’ll become a strong brand for this niche market.
And guess what. You’ll get natural links too. Yeah you will.
Now right now I know what you are going to say – doesn’t specialising and narrowing your focus actually reduce the amount of customers that you’ll get?
Surprising no. The tighter your focus the stronger your brand will become. The stronger your brand the more you’ll be seen as an authority. The stronger you become the MORE customers and sales you’ll get. And the money will come. Oh yeah baby.
Oh and don’t be shy to tell everyone exactly what your brand is.
You can see I’ve done this with my simplerules site. I’m branding this site to not ‘just’ be about finance books. But finance books which are fun and simple (which is why I’ve put the tagline in the logo and kept the design of the site clean). This brand will build as I write more ‘simple’ finance books and eventually become an authority on easy to read finance books (well that’s the long term plan anyway).
Contrast that with my traceywrites and this traceyedwards websites where I’m branding myself as writer or internet marketer (but not combining both of them together into one site). Traceyedwards.com is very much tightly focuses on online marketing whereas my traceywrites site understands that my reader base is likely to be VERY different and expect different content so I’m keeping each of them tightly focused on two specific audiences. I’ve branded them differently (even though all sites have a similar look since I fucking love that theme right now). What – you didn’t think I could write over 1,000 words without swearing once did you? Oh yeah – that’s part of branding this site as well – the language I use.
Ok, so I’ve talked about a lot of concepts here. Let’s summarise:
1. Decide where you are going to focus your branding. Will it be your website, your products or yourself?
2. Think about your customer and make that site for them. Try and be specific.
3. Tell customers your brand to begin with. Eg. Truck rentals for divorced couples
4. Make sure your content and look and feel fits in with your brand concept.
5. Give Tracey a donation (what? How did that get in there?)
You really can build a strong brand. Yeah you can. Go forth and specialise young grasshoppers. Oh and get a tattoo – its great branding.