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Small Businesses And Personal Branding

What is branding?

Everyone is talking about brandingpersonal branding, and brand identity. But what exactly is it that arouses the keen interest of more and more entrepreneurs?

What does branding mean and what advantages does it have for your company or business?

A friend recently asked me carefully: “What exactly are you doing with this branding? Aren’t these branding marks on horses? ” I had to smile spontaneously. She was not entirely wrong in her statement. Because in the Wild West horses used to be branded on the back flank. This branding, branded with a hot iron, was primarily used by the cowboys to identify the galloping horses. So you could easily distinguish the Mustangs within large herds and assign them to the respective owners. The brand was thus a kind of claim to ownership, proof of ownership.

 branding in terms of corporate communication is much more than just a branded characters. It is a process. But similar to a brand, it serves to identify the business so that it stands out from the competition. It should “burn-in” in the mind of the target group, similar to the branding on horses.

 The development of unique features, unique selling points, the how of a company, is an intensive process. It is not enough to simply put a sign on the business, such as a logo or signet. Zack, mine! Certain associations, emotions, and a look and feel should also be impressively woven into a brand. This particular feeling should be felt and experienced at all points of contact with the brand.

What is branding for?

Most entrepreneurs know that branding is something they should take care of, so they put it at the top of the to-do list when starting a business. Unfortunately, they often confuse corporate design with branding. I would like to briefly explain the difference.

corporate design is about the visual, visible appearance of a company. This starts with the logo, goes through the choice of colors and fonts to certain recurring design elements and the independent visual world of a company. A brand identity, however, spans all levels of a business. It works not only visually, but also through the language, the way of communication, how to deal with customers, applicants, and suppliers. In a nutshell, the way you do what you do and most of all what feeling triggers it with your customers. For example, do you create a feeling of “You are being helped …” or a “Going to new adventures” feeling? Does your customer feel “luxuriously spoiled”, or as advised by “girl next door” or a friend?

What does branding do?

 A quote from Seth Godin aptly describes what branding does: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories does it, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumers’ decision to choose one product or service over another.” 

A brand raises expectations

A brand raises certain expectations. Let’s take Apple. When you buy an Apple product, you have a certain expectation before buying. You expect a certain quality standard, exceptional design, and technology that works intuitively. These expectations are closely linked to the Apple brand. If a brand does not fulfill the desires associated with it, the brand image is gone.

For you, this means: be authentic! The more authentic you are, the more open, honest, and genuine, the more your customers’ expectations match what you can do for them. Empty promises have no chance and whoever shouts too loudly and gradually reveals that everything was just hot air will lose credibility in the long run.

Branding evokes memories

If a customer has had a certain experience with a brand, this will shape their future buying behavior. For example, if you bought particular margarine that made your last cake awesome, the more likely you will choose that margarine brand again the next time you buy it.

However, these experiences already made do not only refer to purchases or bookings made with you. For example, you can already get in touch with your prospects directly via social media. What they experience here in direct exchange with you affects later buying behavior. Cold contacts become warm contacts, which have allowed you to sniff a little what it feels like to work with you.

Memories also play an important role on another level. The more intense your branding is, the more you are associated with your colors, fonts, your look & feel, the easier your customers will remember you. You have burned yourself into your memory – similar to the branding of the Mustangs. 

The brand story remains in the memory

Stories are incredibly powerful. Neuroscientists believe that stories make it easier for us to remember and remember things than to simply list facts. From this, it can be concluded that it makes sense to wrap your advertising messages in stories and make them accessible to your target group.

You have probably heard of the brand story, the story of a brand. If you manage to touch your readers and arouse their emotions with your personal brand story, you will stay in her memory more easily. For successful branding, it must reflect the why of business. Why do you do what you do What motivates you to help others in your area? What is your vision Your mission?

Branding creates connection/relationship

Another important role of branding is that it creates connections and relationships. Between you and your target group. Good branding is aimed at a narrow target group that it should address. You don’t have to please everyone. Only the right one. The ones you want as customers of choice. So a brand is welcome to polarize.

With your branding, you create a level of relationship with your prospects. This is done by signaling openly that you know and understand the problems of your target group. Always think from the customer’s perspective! What moves him Do you know his struggles What are his biggest wishes?

Are you a solo entrepreneur? Your customers want to see you! You want to know who is behind the business. That is the reason why you should show yourself openly in your brand communication as often as possible. 

Branding creates differentiation

So that a customer can choose between two almost equivalent services, he will compare the differences between the two in detail. Branding creates differentiation and sets you apart from your competitors. It highlights your USP, your unique selling proposition. What are you doing differently from everyone else? How does the how of your service differ from others? What feeling will your customer have when they use your service, buy your product? Branding creates distinctive features compared to other competitors, both on a visual level and in terms of content. It creates sales arguments without directly mentioning facts. It creates a pro, an inclination, in a subtle way. 

How does branding work?

So far so good. Are you convinced of the advantages and benefits of branding for your business? But how does branding work?

Branding is a process that involves dealing intensively with the following questions:

  • WHO (who are you, who are your customers?)
  • WHAT (What do you offer? What are your services/products?)
  • HOW (How do you do what you do? Is there something special about your approach?)
  • WHY (What is your mission statement? What drives you to your business?)

 In a consulting coaching session with my customers, we look closely at these four questions. They revolve around your entrepreneurial personality, your services, your way, and your visions: your brand essence. There are also other aspects: How do you want to affect others? What should be triggered in others when you contact your brand? In my opinion, authentic branding can only be developed in close contact with the customer. To do this, I meet with my customers in my office or via a zoom meeting and gladly give them small tasks.

 The developed basics form the basis for the later corporate design. How deep the branding goes often depends on how intensively the entrepreneur has already dealt with his brand, what preparatory work is already available.

Why your branding doesn’t work for you …

5 reasons why your brand doesn’t work for you and how to do it properly.

Many entrepreneurs who have had their business for a while already have visual branding. Unfortunately, some of them are not happy with it. Something doesn’t seem to be working properly. There is a problem at some point. She then sneaks the feeling that her branding is not yet doing what it is there for attracting customers.

They also often find that the “wrong customers” are coming. The clientele with which one would have liked to work does not appear. They also notice that their visibility does not bring the desired success or that they are not visible to others. There is always a gnawing feeling: there should be more …

It is often due to one of the following 5 reasons, which I would like to show you here.

# 1 You don’t see your brand

Many self-employed people develop ingenious business ideas that they implement and for which they are passionate about. They are passionate about their heart’s business and are busy building their business. They diligently make contacts for the network, they clarify the finances, the domain is reserved for the website, the website is created, and so on and so on.

Of course, all of these are important things at the start of a business – no question. But what is often neglected by many is the solid foundation that makes a brand. Sometimes there is just so much else in the foreground at the beginning and this point is forgotten. So it happens that the self-employed wonders after a while why his brand is not working properly. Only if you know your base, your roots, can you as a brand become authentically visible to others and be successful with your business in the long run.

SOLUTION: 

To get to know you and your business better, you have to deal with your brand essence. Do you deal intensively with your WHY? and you’re HOW? WHY did you start your business? What was your intention? Is there anything else for you besides the motto “make money”? Do you have a vision A passion you are passionate about? Something you want to share with others?

HOW do you work for others? What makes your work so special? And why can’t everyone do it, just you? What is unique about you and your way of working? Maybe you’re doing something different from the competition in your niche. Or you have found a completely new approach to a problem for your customers that didn’t exist before.

You should also ask yourself: What feeling does your branding trigger, your brand in others? Are you inspiring? Are you powerful, energetic? Or what other feeling do you want to create with your brand? Here it happens that your perception and that of others diverge greatly. Do a little survey in your circle of friends or among your followers, how they perceive you and your business as a brand. 

# 2 You do not know your target group exactly

The second big problem, which is very common, is that many do not know their target group well enough. Some of them have never really dealt with it. Neither is it enough to limit your customers to an age group of 30 to 50. Because if you do not specifically target a group with a specific problem, this means that you have to perform a vendor’s tray with different services. And that is never an advantage because it dilutes your offer. So the more specifically you know your target group – their preferences, their desires, goals and above all the problem – the more precisely you can tailor your offer to them.

♣ SOLUTION :

Take your time and look closely: Who are your dream customers? A good way is to create a specific customer profile, for example. Here, in the form of a profile, it is described exactly what the person who emerges from your ideal target group could look like.  

# 3 You put your wishes before those of your target group

Sometimes we may put our wishes before those of our target group or even project them onto others. You are probably also familiar with the problem that you become a little blind in time. You only see your point of view and assume that others think as you do.

This can happen with questions as simple as choosing the color for your branding. Let’s say you love the color orange and get it as a branding color. You have a lot of orange clothes in your closet. Orange is a perfect match for you and you love it. However, your dream customers prefer muted colors. Your branding will miss your target group.

Not everything that suits you and your preferences must necessarily be suitable for your business brand and does not necessarily address your target group. The greatest possible intersection of your ideas and those of your target group is advantageous.

SOLUTION:

Take a step back, take your ideas back a little, and always ask yourself first: What does my target group want? What are your preferences? What do you like? You don’t work for your business, but your customers. 

# 4 You don’t do it consistently

To put it bluntly: Your branding MUST be consistent and consistent.

I often see people who are dissatisfied with their CD start to work on the design all the time and change things regularly. This often happens in relatively short periods. Unfortunately, this leads to confusion on the part of the customer/prospect and also damages your visibility. One cannot avoid the impression of indecisiveness.

A CD is always subject to a certain dynamic and change because your business is constantly evolving and changing. Nevertheless, you should remain as consistent as possible over a longer period to anchor yourself permanently in the mind.

♣ SOLUTION:

Define your branding colors, your fonts, your visual worlds, and your logo and stick to them! Resist the temptation to constantly add new elements to your branding. Stay steadfast and do your thing permanently. Limit yourself to the essentials. Your visual appearances must uniform on all channels. That means on your website, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. it must be recognizable everywhere that you are! 

# 5 You lack the courage to show yourself

Perfectionism is often our greatest enemy. Sometimes we just hesitate for an incredibly long time to come up with an idea for new branding and think: No, it is not yet perfect. I still have to work on it… don’t compare yourself to others who have been in business for years. You’re fine the way you are. You are unique!

♣ SOLUTION:

Concentrate on your work, your thing. And make the best of it! You do yourself the greatest favor by simply ignoring what others are doing. Because if you are constantly looking for others, you are depriving yourself of the energy you need to focus on yourself and your business. 

How branding increases your value …

Why you can increase your prices through emotional branding.

You can increase your prices with branding. At first glance, that sounds unlikely. But on closer inspection, it becomes clear that visual branding can have a not inconsiderable impact on the fees that you can charge on the market. 

Luxury brands vs. Cheap brands

I’m taking you on a little trip to the supermarket now. Think spontaneously of your last purchase. How you strolled through the rows of shelves and looked at the range of goods. In addition to many products and offers in the middle price segment, there are the so-called luxury or luxury brands. Also, the low price brands, which are often offered as discounters own goods. Have you ever paid attention to the respective packaging design for these different brands?

One thing is particularly striking about the brands in the low-price segment: the packaging design is often very simple, almost flat. It screams: buy me! I am cheap! Such a design usually doesn’t appeal to us very much. Our feelings are not triggered. You will probably make your purchase decision for such a product without exception at the low price, since you think rationally and want to save. The best thing to do is to pack the multi-pack right away …

In return, let’s take a look at the luxury or luxury brands. The packaging design looks different from these. The product and its facts are no longer the only focus here. Whole stories are told here!

We no longer just eat some tomato soup. No, the tomatoes ripened under the Italian sun for this soup come straight from Tuscany from a friendly organic farmer who is even shown smiling on the bag. Perfect storytelling that takes us on a relaxed vacation trip to the south.

And what happens to you at this point? When you look at this tomato soup, you will probably already have mouth-watering and you can taste the aromatic taste of the tomatoes … 

Storytelling + branding = emotion

What happened? Why does this packaging design trigger so different feelings in you than that of the cheap brand?

The following has happened: The luxury brand has emotionalized you and cast a spell over you. And really strong brands do that! Through their look and feel – in our case the packaging plus the targeted storytelling – they create a certain expectation in us and address our longings. We look forward to the soup, to its taste and already imagine in the supermarket how it will taste later. This positive expectation inevitably leads to a purchase. And this is not only the case with tomato soups.

Satisfying our basic needs

Even with clothing, cars, and expensive watch brands, the purchase decision is usually not made rationally, but for other reasons. If a product appeals to us in particular, it is very likely to trigger one of our basic needs.

I always like to refer to the Maslow pyramid of needs. At the top, is the need for self-fulfillment. Brands that address this level can move easily in the high price segment. Here people are ready to spend money.

The “Recognition and Appreciation” segment should not be underestimated either. We often buy something because we hope that it will give us more appreciation. For example, the new expensive blouse with the extravagant cut. Wasn’t it that we secretly hoped for a compliment or two from a friend?

A brand therefore always satisfies certain needs, which are always to be found in detail. Because, depending on the person, these are of course always different degrees. 

What does that mean for you now?

Your goal should be to use emotional branding to address your customers on their emotional level! Because you no longer have to sell purely via the price as an argument!

Sober product facts also become a minor matter. You sell through emotions and can also offer at a higher price since the price is no longer the sole selling point to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

But how do you create emotions with branding? 

The thing with the emotions

First of all, you should have a clear goal in mind. What emotions do you want to trigger? What should your customers feel? This can also be several emotions at the same time: for example tension, variety and adventure or love, motherhood, friendship.

And: You have to know your customers: such as their personal preferences, wishes, values ​​, and norms. Because the better you know your desired customers, the more you can communicate with them on a personal level.

With this basis, you can plan your visual design concept. Besides, this is of course a great basis for your entire marketing concept!

Think about which colors convey exactly this emotion? Which images create the desired feeling? And what story can you build around your brand, your product, which casts a spell on your dream customers? Awaken her desires and take her on a trip. 

In doing so, place a lot of value on professional preparation and implementation. Because your appearance looks all the more professional thanks to good, coherent branding

Emotional branding and storytelling

How to address your customers through emotional branding and storytelling

A brand is only as good as the story or story it tells. Because stories create emotions. And it is felt that create a relationship and connection with your readers or followers and increases your visibility. Emotional branding and clever storytelling are a wonderful way to address not only the mind but also the hearts of your customers.

Telling stories is not always easy. Above all, we often ask ourselves the question: Which stories should I tell about my brand, my brand, and about myself as an entrepreneur? And which are relevant for my customers and prospects?

I am happy to give you a little inspiration for your brand stories and show you what you can convey about yourself and yourself through your brand:

Emotional branding and storytelling creates a connection

To connect with your desired customers on an emotional level, it is important to tell the right brand stories and to inspire your prospects.

What we have in common is that we love stories. People used to gather around the flickering campfire and tell exciting legends, fairy tales, and legends that captivated all listeners. Stories touch us emotionally and create connections. We cheer with the hero of the story in everything he experiences. No matter whether this is a movie on a big screen or just gossiping with the neighbor: Stories pull us along and trigger our empathy for the people who appear in it.

Your listeners and potential customers also love stories. And through clever storytelling through your branding about you and your business, you can get to know the person behind the brand and dive deeper into your world. They get to know you, you may even find yourself in some of the things you describe: and there it is the emotional connection!

Besides, stories are always great for all of us because they offer a welcome change from our boring everyday life.

Now we come to the aspects and stories that your brand should tell about you and your business so that you can reach your desired customers in their hearts

The story of origin or mission

We love to hear from others why they have taken the one or the other path in their lives. How did they get where they are now? In your story of origin or mission, you can give others an insight into what made you start your business. Why did you choose this path and what circumstances led to the establishment of your company? Think of turning points in your life that have brought you to where you are now?

Today’s consumers want to know more about the brands they buy from. You want to look behind the curtain and get to know the people behind the brand.

Your mission story could answer the following questions:

  • Why do you do what you do
  • What drives you
  • Why do you work with this special group of people?
  • What was the turning point in your life that brought you here?
  • What were the key moments in your life?
  • What do you want to achieve with your work? What is the big goal?

Human stories

As mentioned earlier, it’s about the people behind the brand. The connection from person to person. You should show yourself authentically and humanly in your stories. Nobody wants to communicate with a machine. Stories that make it clear that you are just a person with corners and edges, with his mistakes and ticks, are a great thing to strengthen and further develop the connection between you and your target group.

As entrepreneurs, we often have the topic of “selling” in our marketing minds. But be careful! This is usually very counterproductive when you try to establish an emotional connection with your prospects. Please focus on people, not on the thing.

Ideas for your human stories:

  • Your travel stories
  • What are your hobbies?
  • Your favorite books
  • What is your everyday work like?
  • What are your peculiarities? 

Your values

What is important to you? Talk about it often and you will attract people who have the same values as you.

Your brand should reflect your values ​​and explain why they are so important to you. Maybe they have something to do with your past? Maybe they can be perfectly linked to your origin and mission story!

For example, if your value is sustainability, you could tell your customers exactly how you define the term sustainability on your website or in your flyer. Or how you implement this topic in your business: for example by using sustainable materials, selecting environmentally friendly service providers, energy-saving hardware, etc …

The prerequisite for communicating your values ​​is: You have to know them!

Take a targeted look at this topic and take your time to find out which values ​​are important to you. And above all: Which of these values ​​are also relevant for your target group and your business.

Inspiration for your value stories:

  • What is important to me (in my work)
  • That moves me (in collaboration with customers)
  • I particularly enjoy my business …
  • What I value
  • What I believe in
  • Which is my belief

Customer stories

Another important point that your brand should cover is telling stories about your customers! Because when people read about the positive experiences of others with you and your service, this immediately creates trust. Think of testimonials on the website, reviews via Google, and recommendations, for example via Facebook, and how much these influence our buying behavior.

How about, for example, if you show your customer projects using case studies? Here you can go very well on which path your customers have taken with you and what experiences they have had with you. How did you get them from A to B? You can also describe exactly what your customers’ biggest struggles and problems were. What went wrong before they came to you? And how could you help them? 

It is also important in this type of story to address the feelings of your readers. Describe how your customers are now feeling after they have used your service.

Ideas for your customer stories:

  • Case studies based on a customer project
  • Instagram story with case studies and links to customers
  • Testimonials on the website or in social media
  • Recommendations on Facebook
  • Etc.

 

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