Small business owners often ask me, what is branding, anyway?
Branding is the art of differentiating you and your business from your competition: who you are, what you do, what sets you apart. It’s a rallying cry for your company, your essence, your perceived value, your promise to your customers. Every business has a brand uniquely its own.
Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out to build your business? Here are 8 awesome ways to establish your brand – using content.
- With your logo. If you’re in business, you probably have an image, fonts, or color, that let people know what you and your company stand for — in an instant. Think: functional, aesthetic, appropriate, timeless, simple. For a company like Harmonic Landscapes, it’s a tuft of grass; for Lanai Financial Solutions, it’s two fonts — one elegant, the other classic; for Scotts Valley tax man Michael Christensen, it’s no-nonsense green; for Santa Cruz attorney Kathleen Bodmer, it’s a very lawyerly set of initials, on top of what could be a judge’s bench in a courtroom; for Edna Vilozny’s insurance company in Aptos, it’s a tree, filled with icons that represent all the essential services she provides.
- With a slogan. Something short and sweet is good. Brian Childers’ Foxxr has a memorable one: “How the Web is Won.” Housekeeper Ana Garcia’s is no-nonsense: “General Cleaning at Your Convenience.” Ben Post’s “Using Technology to Reduce Costs and Increase Productivity” for his company, Post-Tech, has a few more words, but it makes its point.
- With your elevator pitch. That’s what we practice in LeTip and other business networking groups. “Hi I’m Tom, with On The Spot Carpet and Upholstery … We bring our own softened water. We take the soiled water away.”
- With your website. I’d venture to say that in 2015, every business should have a website. It doesn’t need to be complex, but it does need content. I tell people to update their websites to be informational-based so search engines can find them and clients can see material that demonstrates expertise.
- With your bio. Once you have a good bio — and I don’t mean you have to write a book-length autobiography — you can use it in many ways, not the least of which is as the About Me page of your website. I recently helped a business owner with his bio, and the first thing I did was to get to know him a bit more: What’s his story? What makes him different from others in the same industry? Why would I call him? That’s what should show up in a well-written bio.
- With a blog. This is where you can expand on your story and what you do. I manage the Robert Half Finance & Accounting blog, which has a goal of attracting, educating, and retaining clients. The blog offers a way to establish the division’s authority in the recruiting industry, and in May, we had 22,414 total visits to the blog, which is a pretty healthy piece of analytics!
- With social media. The major platforms are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, and they all require content to build your brand. Your posts should have a call to action, which can be anything from asking people to click on the link to your blog, to fill out a form, or to give you a phone call. Just as an example, your LinkedIn “Summary” (***see mine below) is an example of free content space that everyone has on their LI profile — but hardly anyone makes good use of it.
- With email newsletters, press releases, flyers, brochures. I was in charge of marketing for this year’s TEDx: SantaCruz event in May, and one of our most successful ways of engaging with the 1,500 people who either attended or expressed an interest in our event continues to be sending out email newsletters using a free program, MailChimp. It’s a way to reach out to potential and current customers in engaging and creative ways, to communicate what’s new, and to enhance your brand recognition.
There are other ways, of course, to display your brand: With a promotional video or testimonials, with a booth at a trade show or festival, or a sponsorship of a cause or event.
So the questions to ask now are: Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option?
As a content provider, my answer to the question, HOW DO YOU DEMONSTRATE YOUR BRAND? — is with content, the cornerstone of online “search,” marketing, communications, and public relations — the best strategy for telling your story and building your bottom line.
Give me a call if you need help with your branding content! And yes, I need to create new content, as I rebrand my own business!
***My LinkedIn Summary:
I didn’t start out calling myself a content developer. I was a journalist for newspapers, large and small, working as a reporter, features writer, editor, and publisher. In 2009, I retired my reporter’s notebook and went to graduate school. I studied business, marketing, and finance, and got my masters in entrepreneurship at a tiny school down the road from Google in Silicon Valley.
Education is an eye-opening experience, and I highly recommend it. In the last six years, I discovered a passion for QuickBooks and also for videography. I trained and got certified as a Google Trusted Photographer. I started a business, Chronicles In Motion.
Chronicles are the stories we tell, which describes the content I create for individuals and businesses. It’s everything you put on your website and social media platforms, in your emails, newsletters, blog posts, press releases, and printed material. It’s optimized for search engines and rich with brand messaging. It’s also engaging and strategic.
So as a content developer, I do it all — write and edit copy, manage blogs, tackle technology, conduct interviews, gather research, shoot and edit video, create Google virtual tours.
Creating and fostering relationships is a cornerstone of doing business these days, and so is collaboration.
Send me an email at email@example.com, and let’s talk.
AKA/Common Misspellings: Cheri Matthews, Cheri O’Neil Matthews, Cheri O’Neill
Google Trusted Photographer | Content Marketing | Writing and Editing | Project Management | Branding | Video Marketing | Storytelling