A successful self-branding strategy with implementation is important to outdoing your competitors and creating a large loyal customer base. Branding yourself online needs a little bit of thought e.g. understanding your main goals, having some creativity and good social skills.
In a previous post we looked at ways to market yourself successfully online as a freelancer. (READ HERE.) What we are going to be looking at here is how to successfully brand ourselves online. These steps can be applied in any field and isn’t limited to just freelancers.
If you are working in a large or organisation, a blogger or in any type of online homebased business you can use these steps to brand yourself and get people to see you the way you want to be seen, the best you.
You may be asking, “What is the difference between marketing and branding?” “How do they differ from one another?”
Well here is a basic explanation.
Marketing is an active pursuit to push out a massage that will help make the sale of a product or service; it is more of a push tactic. (You need us – You want this because – It is awesome – Buy it etc.)
Branding is actively defining the essential truth of a company’s values, characteristics, image and feel before one is given to it by someone else. (This is why we are – We are cool – This is us – We are etc.) Branding is more of a pull tactic aka attraction.
What’s your message?
A brand can only be defined by the message it chooses to present to its audience. What qualities, values and experiences do you have to offer your customers that are unique to you?
Do you have a story that shows how you got to where you are now?
This needs to be clear before you can begin anything. Define what your message is and what makes you stand out from your competitors. Let’s use the fast-food restaurants McDonalds and Burger King for this example.
Both are fast-food restaurants which have been serving burgers for decades.
McDonald’s as we know has a few basic burgers to choose from, a couple of cheap burgers, nuggets and desserts plus a rotating limited edition burger line and kids menu campaign with toys.
McDonald’s focuses on delivering cheap but high quality food, which can be made by anyone, very quickly in a relatively clean environment. (Reference here: Mission statement of McDonald’s.)
McDonald’s is known for creating a system that can be applied by ANYONE in any country, ethnic background, religion or age.
Their message is: Good Food, Good People & Good Neighbour! (See here)
Burger King serves a variety of flame grilled burgers (beef, chicken and shrimps) in an attractive, clean surrounding.
Burger King doesn’t cut quality to lower price and uses freshly made salad on site. It also takes a little bit more time to prepare their food but once you get it you are sure to be full with just the burger. (Reference here for more details on Burger King’s Mission Statement or bk.com/corp-respon)
Their message is: Great food comes first & 3G Capital (making money) (See here)
Questions to get you started on defining your message:
- Why did you choose this industry?
- Why did you start working as a freelancer (insert job title)?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- Who do you want to help? (Can you imagine what your ideal customer looks like?
- What are your unique selling points? (Read this article for more detail on USP – Unique selling point.)
Can you visualise your brand?
We are going to be creating a living breathing avatar for your brand, one that is on 24-seven that will be connecting with potential customers with you, even when you are not around.
Here are just some questions (below) to get you to visualise and image your brand. Remember to keep your image the same as your message. If they are different then you will have to go back and tweak it so that they match.
- If you brand was a person, what would it be wearing?
- What celebrity, fashion brand, movement is most similar to your brand?
- What kind of music, movie best relates to your brand?
- What does your brand taste, smell, feel and look like?
- Who can relate to it? (Age, Country, gender, ethnicity, religious and political preference, occupation, marital status etc.)
- What adjectives would best describe your brand?
A good way to get more clarity is to think like your customer.
- Do they want a smart or cutting edge brand?
- Do they want an adventure, a friend, a parent figure, a wild card?
- Do they want a youthful, elegant, bold or upscale brand?
- Do they want a reliable, trustworthy or down to earth?
- Do your customers feel your brand is nostalgic or futuristic?
What’s your colour?
When defining your brand, you are at some point going to think of what colour(s) to use.
But, did you know that colours have different meanings to them? Colours also create different types of emotions and have different personality types. (Read more on colour psychology here.)
Unlike other animals we humans can see 3 colours, red, blue and green. These colours mixed at different wavelengths lets us see other colours e.g. a rainbow. (Read more here on how humans see colours.)
Here is a basic list:
- Red: Danger & Passion. Our eyes focus first on red before any other colour. When we see red, our heart rate increases. (See pink below)
- Orange: Joy, warmth, heat. Orange is commonly associated with summer and fire. It can also be used to get our attention. (Read more here.)
- Yellow: like red, is an attention-grabber. Yellow can speed up your metabolism, helps you focus, and can make us hungry. Also associated with freshness and intellect.
- Green: easiest colour on the eyes and represents nature. It is also calming like blue. It can be associated with peace and ambition but also green can represent sickness, jealousy and greed. (Read more on the meaning of the colour green.)
- Blue: calmness and serenity. It is also used to project stability and authority.
- Indigo: wisdom and justice, fairness and impartiality. (Read more on the meaning of indigo here.)
- Violet (Purple): this colour is associated with power, royalty and wealth, luxury and sophistication. The reason for this is not inherit or because of our DNA, it is historical. In the past, the colour purple was cultivated from an insect. The process was so time consuming and costly that only the wealthy could afford to purchase and wear it. It also didn’t help that Queen Elizabeth I forbad anyone except royalty from wearing that colour. (Read more here.)
- Black: authority, formality, strength and Power, evil, death and mystery. However black is great for making us look thinner.
- White: associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, cleanliness, simplicity and virginity. It is considered to be the colour of perfection.
- Pink: is has the opposite effect from red. It will calm a person down much quicker than any other colour in the spectrum. Associated with romance, femininity and passiveness.
Also the way we perceive colour and the emotions we feel towards colours can be linked to how we have interacted with them in our past.
For example: If our house was bright blue, we will associate bright blue with home and comfort.
Or if you got in an accident with a silver car, you will have a negative feeling towards the colour silver and even drive more cautiously when near a silver car.