Welcome to my next Biz Column today I thought I would write about how to attract loyal followers. Creating a brand isnât so easy. It’s an easy word to bandy about – and God knows many people do – but creating a brand that becomes familiar, that people bang on about and evangelically share and communicate with, is pretty hard. I don’t want to put you off here – because building a brand has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with strategy.
So let’s strategize!
Who are you?
In a sentence, tell me about your brand. Just one sentence, no more. This sentence should encapsulate everything your brand stands for. Â Why only one sentence you may ask? Because your brand isnât simply a name or a logo – it’s way bigger than that. We’re humanizing it! Let me give you a fab example: Ritz Carlton has “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.â This immediately communicates that the Ritz delivers unmatched experiences and its hospitality is respected throughout the world. This sentence encapsulates all of that. Everything they do comes back to that very sentence!
Who are your customers, what gap are you filling, why should your customers buy from you? Iâll even go one step further and say why do you exist? If you can answer all these questions, then bravo! If you canât, sit down, recalibrate, and get to answering them. As odd as this sounds, Iâm trying to give your brand an identity and a personality. Customers gravitate towards interesting, exciting brands, or at least brands with something to say – the same way we do with people. If you see some drippy, boring dude shuffling around in the corner at a party then Iâm guessing you’re not going to make an instant beeline. Right?
Building a brand is all about telling a story, building a narrative that people can emotionally connect to and want to buy into.
Analyse your website
Look closely at your website and your graphic design. If youâre starting from scratch, design a site that totally reflects your brand. If youâre already out there and youâre struggling a bit, then re-analyse and redesign it. Does it convey your story? Donât worry about always tweaking and changing it – I do it all the time! (Case in point, this blog.) Take us as an example. Weâre glam, sophisticated, lux, and a little edgy and dark. My website and social media channels all reflect this. So figure out what you are – fun and colourful? Modern and minimal, cool and a little rock ân âroll? And let that vibe shine!
Detail is key
Make sure you nail the details. Letâs talk photography for a second. Weâre all dark, inky, swampy, bottom-of-the-lake types here, so weâre not suddenly going to schlep down to the beach and do a photo shoot on the sand amongst a whole heap of shells. Nor are we going to hire some Scandinavian location house to shoot our products in. It doesnât relate to the brand. Always, always stay on message. Even down to font choice, consistency is key. Does it emulate what your brand stands for? If, say, youâre sleek and modern, youâll not be wanting some floaty font gracing the pages of your site.
Never sit on your laurels, always keep evolving – it keeps thing interesting. For your brand to be easily recognised, it has got to be easily remembered. Keep things simple and the things you canât do well farm out or ditch. For example, let’s say youâre rubbish at writing. Then donât start a blog, or write your own product descriptions – give that to someone who’s great at it. You need your brand to be smart, unique, forever evolving, and whatâs more – memorable!
Hereâs where all the copycats go wrong: if you want your brand to be successful, youâre going to have to be innovative, clever, and unique. Ripping off someone else doesnât differentiate you in the marketplace, and if that other brand has a loyal following, then why on earth would those followers jump ship and go to you? What you want to do is find your own niche by doing something that will make customers come to you because youâre different. Simple and easy as that.
Donât be pushy
Over-pushing your brand or banging on about products youâve had for ages will also lose people. Who has got the time or the interest? Youâll go straight to the junk mail folder. Be real, be yourself and donât car-salesman your brand. Repeating the same message and showing the same images again and again will bore everyone!
If something isnât working, the advantage you have in being a small fish is that you can instantly change things up. If sales have tanked, if enough people arenât visiting your site, then shake it up. The big fish have layers of bureaucracy preventing them from being flexible and reactive. Your major advantage is that you donât. You can change things now, like this minute! Branding defines your business: itâs the core of everything. What it looks like, feels like, even sounds like. Donât gloss it, fake it, or spin it – no one falls in love with anyone who does that. (Or maybe we do for, like, a second, but we soon wise up, right?)
To create the perfect brand, youâll need to connect with customers emotionally. That’s what it all basically boils down to. Itâs taken me a while to build up mine, but I now have the best community. It feels strong and it feels like family; we learn, inspire, pick each other up, motivate and stay connected. I love it!
One last thing: remember, itâs supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!