It goes without saying that none of us have got a marketing and design team in our back pockets to take a load off when we’re managing our marketing, branding and design. For most of us, we’re entirely on our own for that one. For those of us who do get some help with social media or perhaps sending out emails, it’s still something that needs to be driven by us as owner/managers.
Today I wanted to focus particularly on brand. All of us have one. Some of you might feel that it’s strong, something you love and is super clear to your customers. Some of you – not so much. You may have a lovely logo and you may have a good sense of what your business stands for and who your audiences are but perhaps not seen it as a full fledged, polished brand.
So why is this important?
One of my favourite, easy to pick up, books is ‘Do Purpose: Why Brands with Purpose, Do Better & Matter More’ by David Hieatt. It is the ideal, easy to follow read for a micro business owner and reminds us that brand is not a logo (although they are important and need to reflect what’s inside!) but rather a set of values and full of purpose to help us be noticed, to help us stand out and even to help us run better businesses from the inside.
Given that we have all shared, and continue to share, an astonishing experience over the last 12 months, I think it’s a good time to take a moment to really look at our brands. What do they stand for. Is there a clear purpose. How do our customers see us. How do they see themselves in our brand. Why are you important. Spending time looking at this will help all of us to position ourselves clearly in our sectors and on social media. It will refine our websites and give us the best chance of creating a resilient 2021.
So, rather than feeling overwhelmed or worried, I want you to see this as a little spring clean. This is a moment to polish, dust out and throw away anything that you no longer need. It’s a chance to rearrange, even just a little, so that your customers see you in a slightly brighter, more consistent light.
Pop the kettle on, get yourself a piece of paper and some pens and let’s begin…
- Look back…I want you to look back at the beginning of your business – perhaps even before. What was the big dream? Why did you want to start what you do? Why was it going to matter? These reasons may be internal e.g. you wanted to earn money for yourself or you wanted to be able to work more flexibly. They may be more external e.g. you wanted to change how things were done in your sector. Perhaps you wanted to continue an artisan skill or simply wanted to bring your skills or creativity to your audiences. Put everything down.
- Find purpose…so given what you’ve just noted down, why is your business in existence? Why is it important to your customers? This bit can be tricky. For example, if you paint beautiful furniture, you might feel like you just like doing that and so do your customers. But in fact, is there a deeper value to that? Perhaps you actually love seeing old furniture revived and not thrown into landfill. These internal wishes or values often stay in our head and we’re shy about being explicit about what we are trying to change in our little corner of the world. What change do you bring in your business world? Change doesn’t have to be world altering but even just the little change you want to see matters.
- Add values….we all have them. We know, without needing to analyse them, what’s important to us. It might be that you’re fastidious about packaging and service. You might be committed to sustainable business practices or your local community. Heritage and shining a light on that might be key or simply ‘doing a good job always’ is what gets you up every day. These values need to be written down, dusted off and visible to everyone as part of your brand. Values need to run through every part of your business like a stick of Blackpool rock. Wear them on your sleeve. This has always been key but never more since the pandemic. Research shows us that consumers are swapping brands more readily and seeking out businesses with purpose and values that they resonate with.
- Check your voice…for most of us, this voice will simply be ours. Some of us are bubbly and fun, some of us are a little more serious – all of it’s good. What we really need to be aware of is – consistency. For example, often micro business owners do brilliantly on their favourite social media platform sharing content in the same voice that audiences associate with them, their brand and business. It feels ‘in the flow’ and easy. Then you hop over to their website and….it feels like a different place. Perhaps you wrote it years ago. Perhaps your website developer said you had to add lots of key words that left it feeling a little flat. Take a moment to write down explicitly what your brand sounds and feels like. Is it consistent across all your locations?
- Polish off…now that you have a stack of notes, scribbles or doodles about what we’ve talked about so far, it’s time to go back through all your platforms with a customer’s eye to see if all your marketing places shows that purpose, shares those values, mentions those things that are so important and do they voice this consistently? Be forensic and perhaps even invite fellow members to do a little mini audit for you via the Facebook Group – it’s a safe space to do that. It might mean a re write of your bios, a slight tweak of content on the front page of your website or perhaps even a new strapline or call to action. Think carefully about the words that you are using. Are they key words for your brand? Are you using sentiment words too? For example what ‘feelings’ words can be associated with you brand as well as descriptive words? These changes might be subtle but they will make a big difference.