What is cohesive branding anyway? As you may or may not have guessed, I really like talking about it (and all things branding). Luckily I have this platform to talk about it all the time, since my friends and family are probably sick of hearing me analyzing whatever restaurant we are at or store we pass by. The thing about branding is, it’s everywhere. Everything has a brand; every person has a brand, and so on. So, if you have a business, you have a brand already. The goal would be to create cohesive branding, so that people say exactly what you want them to say about your business.
In case you are confused, a quick recap: a brand is what people say, think, and feel about your business. You can influence this, but ultimately you can’t decide it. Branding is how you go about influencing that perception. So if you want to be seen as a fun, exciting, and adventurous lifestyle brand, but people see you as a boring, monotonous, and desperate brand then there is a disconnect somewhere in your branding. Your branding isn’t putting out the right information to create the perception you wanted.
So that is what branding is, but what is cohesive branding? It’s how I like to talk about branding because when I work with clients we approach everything they are doing to make sure it all works to move them one step closer to the brand they want to have. I don’t want a client to come to me, say they want to create a romantic, soft, feminine brand and then have an Instagram that is full of sharp, dangerous, painful looking images, or use a voice that is more abrasive and blunt. That wouldn’t be cohesive with what their goals are. See what I mean?
Here’s why being cohesive will boost your business.
BUILD TRUST + RECOGNITION
Creating a consistent experience for your audience – from your social media graphics to your blog content and so on is essential. People will learn to recognize you and your branding, across all platforms, and see you as a valuable resource. There’s a theory, that in advertising, someone must see it 7 times to remember it. I prefer Thomas Smith’s version of this theory, that 20x is the magic number to actually getting someone to trust + buy from you. The thing is, you want to make sure you are consistently putting out the same message those twenty times. I’ll use myself for example – nearly everything I put out, promote, write about, blog about, tweet about somehow ties back to branding. It somehow relates to the fact that I am branding designer, that blogs about branding, and offers a course about branding. I really want you to associate The Crown Fox with branding – so I try to make it very difficult for you to separate the two from each other.
So, whatever your business is about – if you need people to buy something from you – how are you building that trust so they feel motivated to do so? The easiest, quickest, and most effective way is to be consistent in all of your branding and give your audience a cohesive experience.
I’ve mentioned before how having cohesive branding is like having an automated system in your business. It will save you time. You will find that creating content, graphics, emails, etc. is SO much easier when there’s an outline or guidebook for you. That is what having cohesive branding is – a guidebook.
Visually, that might be obvious. Having brand colors and typography and rules for how you use which logo will make designing a PDF or an opt-in or a client form easier. It takes out the guesswork of what font looks good or what colors are appropriate. You already have the solution available to you. But, let’s think about some of the other, less obvious, perks.
Stop wondering if your content is appealing, or if you are reaching your audience. Stop wondering if you even have an audience. Stop wasting time on ideas and paths that don’t align with your goals. Actually have concrete goals. But, wait, I said it saves you time, right? How long do you sit there fiddling around in Photoshop trying to make a social media graphic? How long do you try to think of blog content? How long do you spend writing a blog post that flops and impacts no one, let alone your target audience? Let’s stop wasting time. Let’s start creating cohesive branding.
I really enjoy introducing myself, because I feel really confident explaining what I do. I don’t stumble, I don’t mutter, I don’t look sheepish. You should feel confident, too.
The first part of developing branding is figuring out your vision and mission statements, which involve defining your target audience, and understanding why and how you serve them. I combine those things into a sentence that efficiently and effectively introduces myself to others (see: mission statement, below). You need this too – and the sooner the better. I’ve seen the introductions, or worse, when someone asks you “what do you do?” and you get nervous, flushed, and ramble. “I’m…I’m a photographer? I do weddings. Babies, sometimes, too.” Or “I am, well, okay – I am like a coach. For people, mostly women but sometimes men. Online” … like, what? No. Be clear. Be confident. Be proud! The Brand Experience will help you figure out the answers to these hard + confusing questions, so that you can be more confident in your business.
Here’s the thing – people care about looks. If you sell planners all your content is messy and badly formatted, that’s a problem. If you are a photographer, but all the photos on your website are terrible quality, that’s a problem. If your audience is positive young professional women, but everything you put out is sad, complaining, or angry… that’s a problem.
Having a plan, having a goal, having a target audience, having consistent visuals – all of this makes you look better. All of this makes you sound better. All of this makes you more appealing, more trustworthy, more shareable, more likely to succeed. You know that whole idea of “fake it till you make it” right? You don't have to fake it. Just let your branding be a representation of your skills, your knowledge, your ability, your fresh thoughts and approaches, etc. People will start to realize your value for themselves.
DEFINES YOUR PURPOSE
You need both a vision and a mission statement, as far as I’m concerned. Now, my first thought when I see either of those words is really stuffy, corporate, the first page of the workplace manual that you don’t even read…
But in this day and age of entrepreneurship and starting your own business and following your passions and dreams – I think we can approach both statements with a little more ease, fun, and honesty. A mission statement is what I use/consider my “one-line introduction” that you might’ve heard me mention in #1WkBrand. It’s quick, it’s memorable, and it covers who you serve, how you serve them, and why you serve them. It’s how I introduce myself, and how I encourage other business owners to introduce themselves.
Your vision statement is a little more intensive. It’s the “big picture.” It’s where you see yourself in five years, or ten years, or when you sign the company over to your future children to run the helm while you bask in your successful retirement. It’s what still stands true despite anything else. I’ll give you an example, because this might be confusing to differentiate:
My mission statement: “I create cohesive branding for small business owners, so they can find their success, become influential, and stand out as the authority in their industry.”
My vision statement: “To be an invaluable branding resource to women in business.”
See how they differ? A mission statement is more of “why I’m here” versus a vision statement being more of “here’s where we are going.” Now, I get that this is probably giving you a headache, and it’s not something you can just develop on a whim. In The Brand Experience we will spend quite a bit of time analyzing and developing your mission and vision statements, so that you have a solid foundation to build your branding on.
FORCES YOU TO NICHE
Lastly (just kidding, there’s literally like ten thousand reasons to have cohesive branding), I want to talk about how developing your cohesive branding will force you to niche. This is a good thing. You want to get specific, get detailed, and get focused on what you really want out of your business – so that you can make a goal and accomplish it.
You need to narrow down your why, your who, and probably even your how. This is easier said than done! I know, I know. It feels dangerous to say, “I’m only working with young women who have a college degree and passion for non-profits” Like, yikes! What if a male lawyer approaches you to do work…?! Well, here’s the thing. You can work outside of your target client, that’s fine. The point is though – if you have a well defined and niched target market, and you create a way to find and appeal to them through your branding, you will mostly be bringing in that client. The people that show up that don’t “fit” are either the outlier of their demographic, and somehow fit into yours OR you will see many red flags and not want to work with them anyway (and politely refer them to someone else that is a better fit).
Also, if you haven’t caught me on Periscope yet, you are missing out on #31BrandingScopes + lots of tips and fun. So get over to Periscope and follow me @TheCrownFox. See you there!