Previous studies on branding either in local or global markets focused on value or equity linked to the brand name and the factors that underlying their value creation (Kapferer, 1997; Keller, 1998). A common question most fellow consultants, startups, and solopreneurs have is whether to invest in their branding now or to wait, especially with the online boom, networking and cross-promotional expansion. You might not have a logo yet or a consistent branding and you may be thinking, maybe this is why my business is not growing as quickly as I was hoping it would.
Well, yes, it may be. If you have a low budget, don’t sweat it; a good solution is to start putting a brand style guide together yourself. Few weeks ago I blogged about the psychology of colors and advised you to have a brand style guide. Since creating a brand style guide is a fundamental step to grow your positioning; and, lots of you have asked me how to create one, next week I will show you step-by-step how to do it in five steps. Stay tuned! For now, here's some important things to consider.
When you create a basic branding and style guide for yourself, you start getting clarity on your positioning, even if the word itself may seem bigger than what you can picture right now. You know it is time to get serious and grow your business! So get yourself together, gather every visual, typography, provisional logo, color selection and anything else you might have been using to this point. Do you like what you have? Can you tell right away what’s missing or what’s extra and unnecessary for your brand positioning? Ask yourself:
- What describes me best from what I have in front of me?
- Is there anything I should let go of?
- Do I want to see something else?
- Is the image I am presenting in alignment with my brand’s goals and objectives?
Then think about your ideal positioning, and picture how you want to be perceived by your audience. It is important to find balance between how you see yourself and how others perceive you. Think about the message, you are trying to convey to your audience and prospective customers. A simple Brand Overview can be an introduction to who you are, what you do, and how you do it differently than every other X out there. This piece is often similar to your business cards, LinkedIn profile, portfolio and website’s About page. If you are not clear, a good way to find clarity is through a questionnaire. I always encourage my clients to ask themselves and their communities some pivotal questions. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Who am I? What’s my brand all about?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What do I do best and what do I like to do the most?
- How am I different from my competitors? What are my unique attributes?
- What does everybody know about me?
- What can people count on me for?
- And ask others, to avoid missing anything, “Is there anything you want to say about me? Feel free to be bold, it will help me.”
Devote time to address the questions – I assure you that you will have a lot of aha-moments along the way, especially when you compare your answers with the ones you get from others. First ask yourself and once you have your answers on a paper, share the questions with different communities, such as family members, fellow consultants, coaches, clients, friends, random people you meet at networking events, etc. Once you have the answers to your questions above you will have a better idea of your brand’s essence. This will guide you to the right brand positioning. Next step will be to get creative building a Brand Style Guide.