Have you ever wondered what your social media followers think about you?
Is it possible you are sending mixed messages to your prospects?
This month we’re talking about the importance of personal branding and how it helps your business. This article ties closely in with that regarding your visual brand, essentially how you come across to others.
Over the years, I have seen a lot of business owners who haven’t taken time to define their brand. They don’t understand that when businesses stray from their brand, it dilutes their brand power and impact. Or worse, they have nothing about them that sets them apart.
As a result, they complain they are attracting the wrong customers or are hardly getting any leads at all…
This “me too” method of marketing that mimics what competitors are doing isn’t effective.
That’s why I feel compelled to share more about what a visual brand is and how to build a strong one online.
Whether you’re creating a new brand or updating your existing one, your brand’s visual identity is the most important factor in your marketing.
Your brand is so much more than a website and a logo. It’s a user’s total experience and perception of you.
Every touchpoint a prospect has with you should have one consistent look and theme. This includes your logo, website, stationery, social media, videos, brochures, business cards, and of course your personal brand in how you dress and present yourself to the world.
A solid visual brand:
• Helps people know what to expect from you.
• Promotes professionalism and purpose.
• Draws prospects who align with your ideas, attitudes and values.
• Enhances confidence, trust and rapport with your followers.
• Builds upon the existing brand experience they have with you in a positive (or a negative) way.
Visual branding adds real power to your marketing. It increases engagement and understanding.
With all these benefits to personal and professional branding, it’s more important than ever to brand your visual content and images so you stand out from competitors.
How Can You Keep Your Brand Consistent?
You write blog articles and posts every day. You are working back and forth on projects. How can you be certain that all the marketing you do resonates with your core brand?
Creating a style guide makes it easier to keep your marketing pieces consistent.
Firstly, ensure your brand is consistent in the following areas:
• Headshot — Having a professional headshot goes a long way in developing brand trust.
• Logo — Your logo is the nucleus of your brand, everything else stems from that. Ensure it’s designed properly — and that includes the psychology of what it represents.
• Color Palette — Colors that will resonate with your target market and be meaningful to your brand.
• Brand Message — This is the essence of your business that includes your slogan or tagline of who you are, what you do, and how you deliver value.
• Fonts — Being consistent with the same one or two typefaces throughout all written materials as well as graphics
• Design Elements — The use of borders, lines, shadows and filters should all become familiar to being associated with your visual brand.
• Tone — Set the tone of your business presence and stick to it, whether serious, high-tech, sarcastic or soulful, this is a big part of building a solid brand presence.
Create a Style Guide as Your Roadmap
A style guide acts like a map that helps your team to stay on track. Sharing your style guide with key members of your team can ensure everyone knows the style guidelines and can follow them.
• Your copywriter and social media manager will understand how to write with your brand voice.
• Your graphic designer will stick to the fonts and colors your brand is known for.
• Your Web design team can make sure your website and landing pages all have the same look and feel.
This is especially important for companies with virtual employees spanning multiple geographic regions. Make it easy for your team to access your logo, fonts and templates. Always protect your brand. Double check when new marketing pieces come in that they conform to brand guidelines.
Here’s eight areas in which to keep your brand consistent:
Your website is the biggest brand statement your business has. It serves as a reference to make sure all other brand elements are in alignment.
That’s why I am so against people who use cookie-cutter template sites. They may look polished, but they lack the warmth, connection and personality of a branded website (not to mention how badly they are built.)
Make sure the images you use are reflective of your ideal client. Use language that resonates with your target audience. Create an about page that helps your visitors understand your backstory and why you are passionate and good at what you do.
The more your website looks and feels like you, the stronger attraction tool it will be for potential clients.
2. Professional Headshot
I was very camera shy when I first started my business. So when it came time to get some updated headshots, I dreaded it. But I found that going through the process brought me confidence.
My new headshots are used as a personal and business branding tool that help me to be more recognized online. They are on all my social media profiles and on our website. As a result, people recognize me when I attend local networking events.
Investing in new headshots can truly jumpstart your brand and success.
3. Sharing Photos
Sharing photos makes your marketing more personable and showcases your personal brand. Consumers love seeing the real person behind the business.
So be mindful of when you are working or are in group situations and see how you can snap pictures to show followers what you are up to.
Take a picture holding your new book. Grab a shot with a new friend you met while networking. Show the resort you are staying at for your business mastermind.
Creating videos helps build a strong following online. It’s important to have your videos match your brand too. Dress in a manner that is consistent with your brand.
You could also shoot it in similar places or locations. Whether that’s sitting at your desk, cooking in the kitchen, or standing in front of a green screen with a projected background, that consistent setting helps build familiarity.
Be warm, friendly and connective. If you promise to offer weekly video tips, then get them out on the same day each week so viewers can anticipate them. Create a custom hashtag for your video tips too.
5. Branded Images
Kick up the interest of your blog articles and social media with images. There are loads of free tools to help you make graphic quotes, infographics, and other visuals to add impact.
Make sure all your graphic images are consistent with your brand. Adding your logo makes it easy for people to instantly recognize the content is from you.
6. Social Media
Social media provides so many opportunities for visual branding. From Facebook cover images to profile pics, to graphics, there are endless opportunities for people to learn more about what you do.
The images you use can evoke the feelings and emotions you want your brand to convey. The goal is for someone to look at your social media account and get an impression that helps them understand your unique vibe.
7. Free Giveaways
When you are offering free reports, tools, and other goodies to visitors, make sure they have the same colors, logos and visual feel as your other materials.
When it looks professional and makes a great impression, it builds credibility. Plus, it’s just one more piece of the brand puzzle that helps them understand what you do.
8. E-mail Signature
A graphic e-mail signature can add visual impact to every message you send. Services like Wisestamp make it easy to add your logo, picture, and social media links to your e-mail signature.
Have your virtual team members set up a signature too so you come across as a professional team to your customers.
Are you a Wanna Be or a Real Brand?
It’s really important to take a look at your brand as a whole to make sure everything is in alignment.
Is your visual brand:
• In alignment with changes in the marketplace, your offerings, or your success?
Even if your brand was on target three years ago, the nature of your business may have changed where your brand no longer accurately reflects what you do or who you serve.
You may have become more specialized. You may have new product offerings. Maybe you are now the host of a new podcast.
Take a look at your brand with the eyes of an outsider and ask yourself if what you see truly reflect who you are now as a company.
As the founder, Susan Friesen brings a unique advantage to eVision Media clients by having earned a Bachelor in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems through the Thompson River’s University. Her experience in the Web development industry since 1999 has gained her much insight and knowledge in how to effectively brand a business and then translate that to a user-friendly, search-engine friendly, custom designed website. She is a graduate of the Vancouver Film School multi-media program and also earned several certificates in technology through the University of Victoria and Athabasca University. She won the 2003-2004 Governor General’s Bronze Academic Award for achieving the highest academic standing in a diploma-level post secondary program. http://evisionmedia.ca