Have you got a brand strategy? Have you thought in depth about what kind of message you’re putting out to the world? Who EXACTLY is your audience and how you can make a difference in their lives? Branding can be hard, but if you can implement a strategy right from the start, you’re going to see results!
When I started The A&J Muse with my gal pal, we by no means had a branding strategy. All we knew is that we were passionate about finance and we wanted to help our fellow millennials feel comfortable talking about money. Fast forward a year ahead though and heck yea, we have a branding strategy!
Let’s back up for a second though. What does ‘branding’ actually mean?? Your brand is a symbol of what you stand for and what you can promise to your audience/customers. It’s what makes you different from the rest of the population. Your brand is a derivative (sorry for the financial jargon) of how you see yourself, where you see yourself in the future, as well as how your audience/customers view you.
What Does Branding Actually Mean??
To me, branding encompasses every tool you use to market yourself and get your message out there. Something a little like this…
- Designing your website to reflect your aesthetic and how people feel when they land on your site
- The voice you use when you write your blog articles and whether or not your target audience resonates with you – do your articles create engagement? Do people feel the desire to comment?
- The images you use on your website and across your social media platforms – are they consistent? Can people tell it’s you purely from the look of a photo?
- How you communicate on your social media platforms- What do you want people to know? Are you relatable? Do you tell stories through your social media?
- The relationships you create with other brands, bloggers, creatives, and how they perceive your work. The blogging community is big but it’s small at the same time. People talk, brands talk, and you want to make sure you’ve left a positive impression
Let me ask you this, if someone were to ask you what your brand is all about, how would you answer them? How would you describe your brand? Your brand isn’t just your logo, and when you’re devising a branding strategy, there are a few other elements to consider first before jumping straight in.
You Are Your Brand
Have you heard this one before? It’s totally true! At the end of the day, YOU are what makes your brand unique and you should be embracing everything that you can offer.
Get rid of that self-doubt and negativity and truly think about what you’re passionate about. What can YOU offer to the world through your business? Whether you love taking photos, building websites, graphic design, or writing, there is ALWAYS a way to reflect who YOU are through your services.
Whatever it is you’re passionate about, it will show when you work with clients or speak to your audience. People resonate with someone who is passionate about what they do, who live and breathe their craft. So, don’t be afraid to share that with the world!
This is one reason why I love Instagram! You’re giving someone a snapshot into your life and it’s a very easy way to show them how passionate you are about what you do, all while tooting your own horn saying, ‘hey, this is what I offer’.
Yes, Instagram can be a massive struggle when just starting out and building a network, but if you do it with intention and passion, you can’t go wrong.
Who Is Your Audience
You’ve definitely heard this one but I cannot stress how important this step is. Part of your branding strategy should include an in-depth analysis on who EXACTLY your target audience is. No seriously, make up a fake person, give them a name, and everything you know about them.
When The A&J Muse was started, we kinda missed the boat on this one. However, once we actually narrowed down our audience and WHO they are, it’s been a lot easier to come up with new blog post ideas, pictures, and social media posts.
I won’t lie, it took us a while to get there as both myself and Julia were going through a few personal changes ourselves which influenced the direction we took the blog. Initially we started out as more of a technical financial blog. However, both of us struggled with applying for jobs, but we started to work out how to tweak our job applications resulting in more callbacks. We started sharing that with our audience and now we are a finance and career blog for millennials.
The point is, we were finally able to niche down and identify what WE can offer to the world and WHO we can offer it to. Those people being people who want to learn more about finance, and those who are struggling through the job application process. We love helping people, and that’s worked for us.
So, think about what life experiences you’ve been through and how you’ve overcome obstacles. This may just the one big thing you can offer that will really help people. Think about what your audiences’ pain points are and how YOU can fill that gap.
Don’t Try To Please Everyone!
The one thing you want to avoid is trying to please EVERYONE! Not everyone is going to resonate with who you are, and that’s ok! It might be hard to begin with but if you can focus down on that one type of person, you’re going to build a tighter and more engaged community, and that is what’s going to help set you apart.
Let me give you an example around Instagram. A lot of people do the follow/unfollow method – a.k.a they just follow masses amounts of people without engaging with them or actually seeing if they would be interested in what you’re offering. Yes, you may get a few followbacks, but some of these aren’t genuine. They are simply following you to be part of the numbers game.
However, if you can focus in on your target audience and follow those people who either are experiencing that pain point or they are a professional within your industry, it’s going to be a lot easier to sell your services and build your community.
For example, on The A&J Muse Instagram, we look at every single person’s bio and decide whether or not we want to follow them based on what kind of message they’re sending out, what niche they’re in, and who they’re currently connecting with. And it’s been a hell of a lot easier to build our brand and make a name for ourselves within the blogging community.
Make Sure You Take Action
It’s all very well to strategise and plan but the key here is to take action! I won’t lie, building your brand can be exhausting given the amount of work you need to put in. You may feel like you need to be everywhere, all the time.
The best piece of advice I can give is to focus in on a couple of platforms and make them work for you. Start with the ones where you think your target audience uses the most and just start building your framework.
When planning out your week, think of the end goal and then write down ONE thing each day you can accomplish that will contribute towards that goal. Even if that is sitting on Instagram for 15 minutes and engaging with your community. By setting yourself these small goals, you won’t feel overwhelmed and want to procrastinate. I’ve been using this little strategy for ages and I get WAY more done!
So, I want you now to grab your pen and paper and start writing down how you perceive your brand and what you have on offer. You can use those dot points at the beginning of this article as a guide to help get all of your thoughts out on paper.
Do you guys have any other branding brainstorming techniques you’ve used? Or anything that has helped you hone in what exactly who you are?