Branding

What's your story and why does it matter?

When I was little, I was always writing. I kept journals from just about the time I could write and I’d have folders of stories and poetry that I’d carry around and ‘organise’ constantly. At school I used to create these little ‘clubs’ where I’d organise a group of girls together, make up some mission or another that we were on, assign various roles, craft ‘club rules’, membership cards and distribute newsletters.

When I was 10 I made a magazine - it was creatively called ‘Angie’s News’ (I have never been called Angie, but anyway). Computers hadn’t been invented yet - kidding, they had, but we didn’t have one at home in the mid-80’s, so this magazine was all hand-written and drawn. I just loved doing this stuff and although I can’t really remember what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was already doing what i would always do.

Apart from the fact that writing, creating and organising have been glaring constants in my life from a really young age, now, as a woman with kids of my own, I also recognise some of the more subtle drivers that I realise have also always been there.

There’s this fascination with what makes us different and how those differences click together and allow us to connect. To me, it’s a little bit like a dance-off or something where one person shows their awesome and unique moves, then the other shows theirs, and then they dance together in a way that’s different again to each of them on their own.

That magazine was all about these very different stories brought together to create this collective, colourful and creative experience. I guess that’s exactly what a magazine and other collaborative efforts are - work groups, sporting teams, families, creative collaborations. All bringing people together and organising differences in a way that’s interesting, creative and different to any of its contributing parts on their own.

Marketing is like that, at least that’s the way I see it. It’s so much about expressing what makes people unique, and yet similar, and organising that story in interesting and creative ways. Ways that are different and yet familiar. We’re attracted to stories like that because of their difference, recognising that which is unique, but somehow we can also see ourselves in the difference. And that’s when connection happens. And that’s what marketing is really all about because that’s what people are all about.

I don’t think my story is particularly spectacular and it’s probably only interesting to me, but that’s ok. It doesn’t have to be anything, it just is. We all have a story and sometimes it’s so normal, so ordinary, and we’ve been doing it for so long, that we’re not even conscious of it. In fact sometimes we don’t even know what that story is.

When I work with clients on developing their brand, I take them through all this deep questioning and brainstorming to uncover these stories. Some love it and totally immerse themselves, while others come kicking and screaming, questioning the relevance, the difficulty, the discomfort in looking at these things - it can be pretty funny. But the reason story’s important is because it shines a light, a great big megawatt floodlight on where our greatness and genius lies. Greatness and genius meaning our innate talents and gifts that come so naturally to us, we hardly even know they exist. And the reason we find them in our stories over and over again, is because we can’t even help doing them - we just do, in all kinds of ways.

These are the things that only we can do in our own particular style and way. The things that at once, fire us up and get us sparking with energy, yet also give us such a deep sense of surety and deep knowing, we switch almost to autopilot where everything is easy and our intuition is sharp.

Once we recognise them, we realise these are the things that have always been there and the things that can become our superpowers when we cultivate them and use them intentionally. Except that can be harder than it sounds, at least when we’re trying to figure this out for ourselves. For some reason, it’s much easier to do for other people.

That’s where the connection piece comes into it and why when you can cultivate the courage to inject yourself into your brand, things often become a whole lot easier. When you can do that, you’re in alignment with who you really are and at the end of the day, that’s the difference, that’s the uniqueness, the realness, that people are hardwired to find familiarity and recognition in. It’s how we connect.

Only you can do you and in a world that’s overloaded like never before with people, brands, information, options, data, products and services, that’s a very powerful thing to have. If you can just let go of your ‘reasoning’ that YOU have to be this or that, or that your brand does, and find the courage to express yourself through your brand and your business, you’ll begin to grow something that people really can find connection in.

Now I know that even if you’re thinking this all sounds good and true, it’s still hard to make bridge between knowing this and putting it into useful action in your business. But do yourself 2 favours here ok?

  1. Download the ‘What’s your mission anyway?’ workbook that I’ve included here and give it a go. It’s not a miracle weaver that’ll solve all your problems, but it will get you thinking about how what matters to you matters to your business.

  2. Once you’ve done that, just put one little thing into action. This is not about radical re-branding, although you could be up for that, it’s about giving yourself permission to be who you are.

See a designer for a more colourful logo and website, add more of the way you really speak into your emails, write the blog post you’re dying to write, but are too scared to. Post a selfie on your Facebook page, be the haute couture stylist who’s a hippy at heart, the lawyer who has purple hair, the spiritual guidance counselor who has a potty mouth and calls a spade a spade. We make it hard because we make it hard, but it’s time to dip our toes in at least, even if we’re not ready to fully dive in just yet.

Download the workbook and if you still can’t make the bridge to how it matters in your business, book a call and let’s chat - there’s a scheduler in the workbook and also on my ‘Work with me’ page.

Have a great week,

Andrea

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Say what you want to say

When I graduated with my uni degree, it was a pretty big deal. I’d studied externally as a stay at home mum, after having 3 kids in 3 years, and although there were many times when I felt like giving up, I was determined to finish it. And so I did.

The graduation ceremony was unusually extravagant, at least by Australian standards. There was a light show, an art exhibition, white marques with champagne & sushi, the trees were filled with fairy lights and paper lanterns, and there was a fireworks display choreographed to ‘Brave’ by Sarah Bareilles.

The lyrics of that song are about being brave enough to say what you want to say, speaking your truth and letting the words come out. Needless to say it felt very emotional there at that graduation ceremony with those fireworks on that warm February night, and naturally that song became a bit of a personal anthem for me.

You see, I’ve been organising communication my whole life. When I was in primary school I was always creating ‘clubs’ for my friends - writing out lists of rules, mission statements, individual role descriptions and club charters. I always kept journals and had several folders for my collections of plays, stories and poems that I carried around everywhere. They were pretty basic when I was 8, but I loved to write and I loved to organise what I wrote. Then as an adult, it’s no surprise at all that I ended up working in advertising, marketing and PR. I always had things to say and I wanted that degree to legitimise my love of communication.

Just as that song came to represent a lot to me personally, it also says a lot about every one of us and the need to find the words and the ways to tell our stories. For personal, as well as company brands, the story is the thing that makes a person real and brand come alive. It’s the thing that underpins the way you show up - what you say, how you say it and why. It comes through in everything, it’s the uniqueness that makes you stand out and it’s the thing people find connection in.

When it comes to marketing, you really have to know what you want to say and learn to say it in your unique style, intentionally. Whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not, you’re telling a story all the time anyway, in everything you do, so you might as well take some time to figure out what it is you want to say. When you’re clear about what you want to say, you can tell that story with intention and creativity, which makes your brand more interesting, more appealing and more connection-able.

But, like the song says, you kind of have to be a bit brave to do that. We’re all pretty well-trained in modifying what we really want to say into something a wee bit different, a wee bit more ‘acceptable’. And that’s not always a bad thing, right? There could be all kinds of problems if we didn’t learn to be appropriate, at least most of the time.

With branding though, that truth, that authenticity makes a real difference. It’s all about saying what you want to say - your story - and finding the right way to say it - wrapping it up in your mission and your style. When you nail that, everything becomes so, so much easier because it comes out in everything you do - what you say, what you write, what you create, what you offer, how you sell.

I’ve always found storytelling and branding fascinating and powerful, right up my alley really with the writing & communication, but to be honest, very hard to show others how to do. Until now. I guess I’ve worked with it enough and honed my skills enough to not only be able to do it, but I’ve also figured out a way of teaching and empowering others with that knowledge too. So much so, that it’s become part of my brand story. So now I’m saying what I want to say and showing you how to do that too.

 

If you’re interested in working with me so you can say what you want to say in just the right way, fill in the form below with your details and I’ll be in touch. We can work one-on-one for a month to establish your brand story, including your brand Mission Guide, your on-brand content, your images, including your brand Style Guide and bring that all together in the way you sell your stuff. Yep, all in a month. How good would that feel? Fill in the form and I’ll be in touch to make a time to chat - that’s where all the goodness begins.

Thank you as always for reading. Leave a comment, or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram - I’d love to hear from you.

Andrea

Because looking good makes your feel good

... and 16 other reasons a strong brand is so important on social media.

Now I’m assuming that you already know how important it is to build a strong brand on social media, right? Even if you couldn’t list all the reasons straight off the top of your head, I’m guessing you know enough to know it’s important. So then why would I write this blog post? Because we forget, and because we think we understand more than we actually do sometimes, and because branding on social media is really, really important and it needs to be said more than once.

A strong brand is a strong identity. A strong, recognisable personality, voice, image and mission. You recognise it when you see it, you know what it’s about and you know whether you like it or not. Furthermore, depending on how you feel about it, you pay attention, engage, interact and follow … or not. And choosing ‘not’ to is better than not being seen at all, which addresses the first reason a strong brand is so important on social;

  1. To stand out - sheer volume of users & a general overload of information mean we’ve all got really good at skimming. Brands that don’t stand out make it easy for us ignore them because we’re looking to block out what’s not relevant.
  2. Consistency - it’s hard to stand out if you’re not consistent, again, because of the sheer volume. You’ve got to be consistent in your look, your message as well as when and where you show up.
  3. Tell a story - part of the function of a strong brand is to tell your story so people know who you are, what you do and who you do it for, without having to spell it out every time. No one has time for that!
  4. Great brands are magnetic - have you noticed? Who in business doesn’t want a great big magnet working for them on social media?
  5. Your mission and purpose are clear - people aren’t generally attracted to fluff and ambiguity, so again, a strong brand makes it easy for people to work out if you’re for them … or not.
  6. Familiarity - people need to be familiar with you to be able to develop trust and loyalty. Simple but true.
  7. Professional appeal - a great brand contributes enormously to you being perceived as professional, credible and trustworthy.
  8. Meaningful connections - a strong brand means the connections you make on social are more likely to engage, support and invest in you, rather than just follow for the sake of it and contribute to your vanity metrics.
  9. Share-ability - great branding makes your content more shareable, for all of the reasons already mentioned and because people who share want to be associated with that goodness.
  10. Room to move - a strong brand gives you the room and the opportunity to grow and expand, but also to experiment and make mistakes.
  11. Form alliances, network and be noticed by thought leaders and professional peers in your field more easily and more meaningfully with a strong brand.
  12. Build your reputation more easily.
  13. Increase your sales.
  14. Boost traffic to your site and increase search results.
  15. Appeal to your competitor’s customers without having to stalk them - let them find and come to you.
  16. Cut your paid ads and marketing costs as your organic reach increases and your paid advertising is more effective.
  17. And because, let’s face it, you want to look good online, for all of these reasons as well as the fact that it’s a pride thing. Who wants to look half-baked, unprofessional, and dare I say it, dodgy? It feels good to look good and have your brand in alignment with who you are.

Enough said.

Social branding is something I dedicate whole months to help clients with in my one-on-one coaching programme and it’s also the main focus in the group coaching programme. It really helps to have someone outside of your business to take a look, help you get clear on your brand messaging and how that translates onto social media and into sales. If you’re interested in working with me either for group or one-on-one coaching, fill in your details here, and I’ll email you.

As always, thanks for reading. Comment below, or ask a question - I’d love to hear from you, or if you’d prefer, email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com

Have a great day,

Andrea

Style says who you are without the words

Why do we love the things we love? Why do we fall in love with people and brands and stuff, and feel like our lives are better for having them in it? It’s all because of the way they make us feel, all about emotion, all about aspirations and identity. How we feel about things is the way dominant way we make decisions - once we’ve used our logic to decipher our choices, it’s the way we feel that makes us pull the trigger.

So what’s that got to do with branding and style? You know I’m going to say it … everything.

A friend of mine is a lawyer who has her own practice. She was working really hard to establish an on and offline presence & reputation, but she got really stuck and felt totally burnt out. The reason? She created a brand that made ‘sense’ and which she thought was really ‘clever’, but it wasn’t truly her.

You see, she’s a sweet, pretty girl, softly spoken, fairly spiritual, loves pink, heels, nails, hair, fashion and flowers … and is SUPER smart. But her brand was all serious, lawyer-like, almost masculine and, well, bloody boring. It was nothing like who she really is. She wanted swirly pink fonts and flowers in her web imagery. She wanted to talk to her clients about how they felt first and what the law said second, and she wanted to help women with the legalities of setting up their businesses for free. But she thought all that would compromise people’s perception of her as a capable and professional legal practitioner.

Not only was she not standing out when she totally should have been, but she was attracting clients and work that she didn’t love, and most of all, none it was sustainable. Through desperation, she gave in. She gave in to the swirly pink fonts, she rocked her floral skirts and pink heels, she said no to the clients she didn’t love and she bloomed. The more she gave in to expressing who she really was, the more stylised her brand became and the more her business boomed. Her clients find her and love her because she stands out and because her brand represents what you get when you work with her, exactly.

Your brand’s the thing, or collection of things, that identify you, what you do, and how you’re different to your competitors. It’s a recognisable representation of a whole heap of things that say that’s you and not someone else.

Your brand style then, is like the personality of your brand - all the ways you express that brand, including your values. It’s in what you say and how you say it, it’s in the colours, fonts and imagery you use, it’s in the way you interact with people, the way you run your business, the causes you support, the stories you tell - the complete package.

It’s a way of saying who you are and what you stand for without having to necessarily speak the words and spell it out. It’s all the things that come to mind when people think about and experience your brand. It’s the bit that shows off your personality, expressing it in everything you do. It’s the thing that helps you stand out. The more stylised your brand is, the more recognisable, loveable and engage-able it is. The more personality you can give your brand and the more consistent you are with it, the more strongly people will be drawn to it … And that’s where feelings come into it.

A strong brand is one that people recognise, are familiar with, that makes sense, whose message is clear and, of course, one that people are emotionally connected to. People love certain brands because they feel an affinity and identify with the brand’s values. I think that’s easier to understand in terms of personal brands where the brand is the person, but it’s exactly true for other brands too.  Personal or not, great brands have managed to mean something far more to the people that love them than just a symbol or design. Those ‘meanings’ are the feelings, the emotions and that’s why they’ve earned trust and loyalty.

If you ask me, the feeling is the most important bit. Yes, there’s science and art and design and theory and tech and bla bla bla involved, but at the end of the day, all of those things are used to convey a feeling, an emotion. And that feeling starts with you. If you want your brand to make people feel a certain way, the answers for achieving that begin with how it makes YOU feel.

When your style resonates and truly reflects who you are and what you stand for, you'll feel good and that'll come through in your brand and in the work you do. When you choose colours and fonts and images for your style guide that genuinely reflect you and which you feel good about, you’ll feel great about using them and being on-brand will suddenly become easy. When you feel like that, it’s easy to repeat it, to flow with it and, hey guess what. Now you’ve got consistency down so people see you enough and in the same way to develop those emotions. BOOM.

I love that lawyer story, and in the end, for all the markety, businessy things you can say about branding and brand style, creating a great brand style is not as much about design as it is about feelings. How you feel about the way you express your brand will have a huge impact on the feelings other people have about it. Start there and nail it, and when you do, your brand will become your greatest business asset.

 

Is your brand and style something that’s bugging you? Why don’t you email me so we can set up a time to chat? Chances are, I can help you find some clarity and offer a new perspective to help you move forward. Perhaps a monthly coaching package of intense brand and styling work would really sort you out, so if you’re interested, pop your email address in the form below and I’ll send you all the good details. If you’re ready to jump on a call, or have a coffee together, email me direct at andrea@pepperstreetsocial, tell me when and how I can call you and I will!

Let’s get your brand style aligned with who you really are.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Andrea

Pictures aren't taken, they're made.

We all know how important images are on social media and how image-saturated the internet in general has become, but have you considered that’s exactly why yours could probably do with some pimping?

Human beings love imagery and we love looking at photos of other people, especially faces. This is nothing new, think of all the famous portraits that have been painted and then photographed throughout history - social media is just another medium for the same fascination. A fascination reflected by the countless apps, software & courses available to teach you how to manipulate and enhance your own creations - anyone can.

It’s probably, in some part, due to this that the general standard of images on the web seems to be getting higher. We see so many great images, that we expect great images, and it means that the ones that aren’t so great get ignored. Now I’m not talking about your personal profiles here, I’m talking about your business profiles and, therefore, that having them ignored is most certainly not on your business-growth agenda.

So when you’re thinking about the images you create and post for business, here are some things that might help you stand out just that little bit more;

1. Brighten up your photos - dark, grainy photos just won't do and are totally unnecessary. If you’re taking a photo that doesn’t have great lighting, adjust the exposure on your camera before you take it (on iPhone, tap the screen & move the sun icon up or down). Already taken the photo? Brighten it using the exposure & brightness options in your after-edits

2. Selfies & faces - people like to know who's behind a business and people like looking at faces anyway, so make it your mission to get over your own resistance by making your face shots as lovely as possible. Now, authenticity is important too, so I’m not talking about plastic surgery & fake makeup - you want people to recognise you, but brightening & enhancing a little can make a big difference.

  Look   at these two photos of me - this   one's   the original. It’s an ok photo, but I’m looking a little bit burnt in the sun there.

Look at these two photos of me - this one's the original. It’s an ok photo, but I’m looking a little bit burnt in the sun there.

  This   one's   been enhanced with a portrait filter - no more sunburn & the composition of the photo is highlighted too.

This one's been enhanced with a portrait filter - no more sunburn & the composition of the photo is highlighted too.

 

3. Develop a consistent ‘look’ - play around with filters & apps to see what you like and what works, and once you do, use the same filters each time you post on that network. This means that your photos will have a consistency, be more recognisable, unique and representative of your brand. On Instagram, you can save the filters you use by clicking on the cog icon to the right.

4. Keep it simple - the idea is to ‘enhance’ your photos, not make them gaudy and visually obnoxious, right? This is easy to understand with your selfies and the cosmetic edits available for faces, but the same is true for other photos. Strong filters are fine, just as long as they fit your brand and your objectives - less is usually more.

And last, but not least, here are some of my favourite photo editing apps & tools;

For creating graphics, overlaying text & adding special effects;

PicMonkey (phone app & PC)

Canva (phone app & PC)

WordSwag (phone app)

 

For adding filters & enhancing the overall look of photos;

PicMonkey

Canva

PS Express (phone app & PC)

Litely (phone app)

VSCO (phone app)

 

For enhancing selfies & portraits;

PhotoWonder - best & easiest (phone app)

Be Funky (phone app)

Darkroom (phone app)

Wow, that should keep you busy for a while! I hope you have fun with those, and I should have said in fact, that fun is the whole point - it’s not about perfection and it’s not about mucking around with photos so much that you never actually post anything. Keep it simple, but try a few new things to make your photos just that little bit better :)

In the meantime, if you want to pick my brains on any of this photo stuff, or would like extra help working one-on-one, send me an email - andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, or fill in the contact form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts (Facebook & Instagram are my favourites). Also, if you’d like to relax knowing you’re in the loop with our latest marketing updates, insights and inspiration, subscribe to our list right here ...

Have a great day,

Andrea

Stand out with quality & consistency over time

I guess it comes with the territory - the age of instantaneous results and the accompanying plethora of ‘life-hacks’ no one can escape, that when it comes to social media marketing, there’s an expectation that there must be an easy way. A quick tip. A super-charged growth hack. A secret formula. A magic pill. A silver bullet. A way to go viral.

But you know what? There’s not. Well, I mean there is, there are many. You can buy apps and bots and courses and coaching and followers and boosts and rockets and code and black hats and white hats and this and that and on and on … but at the end of the day, they’re all just trying to either circumvent, replicate, or speed up the staple truth; quality + consistency (over time) = visibility.

Visibility is critical to success, right? If no one knows about you, how can they do business with you? So it stands to reason therefore that since most of the world, it seems, has some sort of social media presence, it makes sense for your brand to be there too.

The thing about visibility is that it’s not a one-off thing. Being seen once isn’t enough to establish brand recognition and be ‘top-of-mind’ to your customers. You need three things (hacks aside);

  1. You need to be interesting to start with and the best way to be interesting is to lead with value - you need QUALITY content

  2. Then you need to show up CONSISTENTLY - once isn’t enough and neither is sporadic bursts - you need consistent frequency.

  3. You need to do this OVER TIME - solid businesses don’t just pop up, they grow over time; visibility and success take time

Things take a while to sink in, to register, to be noticed, especially on social media where we’re all bombarded with more information than we can handle. We’ve all become really good at tuning out ‘noise’ that doesn’t concern us, just so that we can make sense of the chaos before us. That’s part of the reason you have to keep at it, keep showing up, keep standing out with quality, consistently. Over time, you’ll gain traction as people become familiar with your message and recognise your brand.

The tyresales.com.au billboard on the freeway is a great example of what I’m getting at with visibility. Everyone on the freeway is in a vehicle with tyres. Granted, it may not be their own vehicle, but the majority will be in their own vehicle and will someday require new tyres. Every day they drive past the billboard taking no notice of it, but subconsciously, the message is getting through, and when it comes to the time that they need new tyres, it’s highly likely tyresales.com.au will come to mind.

Now social media has advantages over billboards, not the least being it’s much, much less expensive, much, much more targeted, and it’s interactive, which means you can actually build relationships through engagement. Something a billboard struggles with, but hopefully you see my point with visibility through consistency and something that happens over time.

So when you see a big brand or account on social media and feel that pang of green-tinged envy, don’t be fooled into thinking they got there overnight - it’s unlikely. You’re noticing them now, with all their polished content and thousands of followers because they’ve achieved visibility … over time. Have a look at their quality and consistency, and have a look to see how long they’ve been doing that. Visibility is about building a brand and that’s a long game, whichever way you look at it.

Whether you do the work yourself, or you get someone to help you, or a professional to do the whole lot for you, you have to accept the fact that it’ll take quality, consistency and time. That’s the hack, so let’s get to work.

I hope this has been useful, and I’m sorry if you were looking for a quick fix, for that silver bullet or shortcut - I’m not your girl for that :( However, if you’re in it for the long haul and need a hand to get your strategy in place and implement it consistently, then I can definitely help. Email me at andrea@pepperstreetsocial.com, fill in the form on the Work page, or connect with me via one of my social accounts - the links are just below.

Have a great day,

Andrea

How social media can build a small business brand - part 2

Yesterday I posted part 1 of this article, (http://www.andreakelly.org/andreakelly/2015/3/25/how-social-media-can-build-a-small-business-brand-part-1) about how traditional brand building principles fit in with a contemporary social media marketing plan. I looked at how the first 2 steps of brand building, identity and meaning, play out in a social media setting. I mentioned that these brand building blocks fit so well with social media that it’s incredible to think we ever managed to build brands without it.

 

Today I continue that exploration into response and relationships, and I’m pretty sure that straight away it’s pretty obvious that these 2 steps also fit perfectly with social media and probably even better than the first 2. Social media is social and it’s interactive - perfect for eliciting and encouraging response and building relationships.

 

So following on from identity and meaning ...

 

3. Next is response - judgements and feelings about your brand

When a customer or client puts your brand identity together in their mind with your brand meaning, they form brand judgements and feelings, and naturally we want them to be positive.

There are four broad categories of brand judgement - they are;

Brand quality - influenced by how well you perform in relation to competitors, your professionalism, image, customer value and satisfaction.

Brand credibility - influenced by perceived expertise, trustworthiness and likability, that is, competent, dependable and interesting or fun.

Brand consideration - how much does your target consider your brand to be a good fit for them. It is possible to believe a brand to be of high quality, dependable, competent and interesting, but still not a good fit for a prospective client or customer - this is where your personality and going the extra distance comes in so that word-of-mouth gets your over the line.

Brand superiority - do your customers and clients believe that your brand offers them advantages that other brands can’t or don’t deliver? If your products don’t stand out, or if they are commodity type products, then you can still achieve this belief in superiority through your customers' overall experience with your brand. Again, your personality and going out of your way to make your customers’ experience exceed their expectations can be your ticket to brand superiority.

 

Incorporating these categories into your social media strategy capitalises on social media’s interactive and relationship building qualities. Using your personality to deliver content that fosters the formation of favourable responses from your audience is perfect for the social platform. Compare achieving the above via traditional marketing and advertising channels to the now ubiquitous social platforms we have available to us today. Just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air and say ‘YEAH’, doesn’t it?!

 

4. Finally is relationships - creating brand resonance

This is all about the relationship your customers and clients have with you and your brand, and how ‘in sync’ they feel with what the brand represents. This is where engagement, loyaltybrand advocation and a sense of community happens.

 

Engagement happens when customers and clients are willing to spend time, energy and money on the brand in a way that goes above and beyond the exchange of goods and services. Engagement is a fundamental characteristic of a mutually beneficial relationship and can be expressed through comments on your blog or social media channels, participation in competitions and other promotional activities, attend events hosted by your brand and tell their friends and colleagues about how good you do what you do.

 

Loyalty means your customers and clients will be back for more products and services from you rather than searching the market to satisfy their needs. Loyalty not only produces repeat business, but it increases the frequency, as well as the quantity purchased, feeds engagement, community and evangelism.

 

Brand advocation is where your happy clients and customers become evangelists for your brand. When humans are happy, it’s just in our nature to share it. Word-of-mouth has always been and will always be the most powerful form of marketing because we trust our friends more than we trust companies, brands, and well, marketing.

 

Community is important to people because we’re human - identifying with others is what we do. When a brand creates a community around their values, customers and clients can express an affiliation with others they perceive to share similar values. And when a community is created, the strength, reach and influence of that community greatly exceeds that of the individuals of which it is comprised.

 

Social media as a marketing platform offers itself so well to these principles that I wonder how we ever achieved these outcomes without it. Of course it was done, but there were so many more barriers to entry for the small business owner. The expense, the media and agency gatekeepers, the mass marketing channels and the disempowerment of small business to name a few.

 

Luckily you and I now live in a new era. Traditional marketing principles still stand, but we have better, more accessible ways of implementing them and have greater potential to achieve better results. Social media plays a massive role in that change and in the opportunity that now exists to take traditional marketing and make it better, do work that’s more meaningful, reach more people and change more lives.

 

Your brand, coupled with sound marketing principles incorporated into a contemporary social media strategy, can be a part of this brave new world.

I hope you enjoyed this, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thank you,

Andrea

Photo credit: View from the top of the Rock, New York, by Dimitry B. via Flickr

How social media can build a small business brand - part 1

The concept of building a brand can often be overwhelming and confusing for small business owners. You wouldn’t be alone if you thought your brand was your logo, period. And that brand building meant incorporating that logo into more stuff. The truth is that you wouldn’t be completely wrong either - brand certainly does incorporate logos and images, but it also reaches far beyond these expressions of brand, making branding both a powerful and daunting concept.

 

My goal for my clients is always to break down the jargon of marketing and explain things in ways that are easy to understand, relate to, and most of all apply. I love to be able to show them that when you do break it down, marketing doesn’t have to be a confusing and intimidating bunch of corporate academic voodoo, but in fact, should be fairly common sense. The reason for that is that marketing is about people and relationships, always was, always will be. It can get a bit fancy as it moves more towards applied psychology, but even still, at the end of the day, it’s just about people, their behaviour and their relationships.

 

This got me thinking when a client of mine wanted to know about the science behind a social media marketing strategy. She hasn't used a great deal of social media in her business and although she’s committed to implementing a strategy to grow her brand, she was really keen to know why and how it works, and what she’d actually be achieving. Most of all, she recognised that a social strategy was a sizeable commitment and wanted to be sure it was able to deliver results based on traditional marketing principles. A very good question.

 

… and the answer turned out to be rather long, so I’ve split it into 2 parts. In this post, I’ll cover the first 2 steps, identity and meaning, and then tomorrow, I’ll cover response and relationships...

 

Traditional marketing principles commonly teach that there are several steps involved in building a brand, and that each step builds on succeeding at the preceding level. Let’s strip out the jargon, explain them in plain English and see how those steps play out in a social media marketing strategy;

 

1. The first step is identity - who are you and what do you do?

This is all about establishing an awareness of the brand, where you want to help your customers, potential and existing, to understand what you do.

You want them to know what product or services category the brand operates in, and which products and services are sold under that brand. In other words, you want to establish an awareness about what products and services your brand represents without people having to read much or to go to too much trouble to find out. If they don't already know what you do, you want to make it pretty obvious for them, and if they do know what you do, then you want represent than consistently so they're not confused by the brand.

 

In order to establish your brand identity, you need to get it in front of a lot of people and educate them on what it is you do. Social media not only gives you access to the masses, but because of its interactive nature, enables you to educate them about your brand through conversations and images. Through social conversations and sharing valuable content, you teach your audience to associate your brand with the products and services you provide, which in turn, serve their needs.

 

2. Then comes meaning - how well do you meet needs?

This is where you want to influence the different types of associations your target market links to your brand. That is, the meaning they attach to your brand beyond what you say you do. This is primarily achieved through the performance of your products and/or services, and imagery. So you want your products and services to have been developed in response to what your target market wants and needs, and you want to deliver those products and services in a way that exceeds their expectations. That way your customers and clients not only know what products and services your provide, but they know how good they are. Your brand now represents what you do as well as how well you do it - there’s a quality and performance aspect.

 

And what do customers whose expectations have been exceeded do next? They begin to form beliefs about your brand, they pay closer attention to what you do and say and they start to tell others. Wouldn’t you like a tool to help you influence, capture and share these responses? An active social media presence means you can.

 

This is also where you can use imagery, as mentioned above, to influence the more abstract aspects of the brand. If your product or services are the tangible things that exceed customers’ expectations, then imagery helps to imbed those associated meanings. Images in the context of social media can be used to encourage favourable associations between your brand and the values of your audience. For example, your brand might use images to form strong associations with environmentally friendly practises, recyclable packaging, a small carbon footprint and sustainable living. Or, for another industry, it might be the creation of wealth, financial security, family and shared experiences, travel and attainment.

 

Remember that a picture speaks a thousand words and think about the feelings and associations you want your audience to conjure in response to the images you use in conjunction with your brand. It's well documented that social media posts that contain images elicit more engagement, that is, more likes, shares, retweets, pins and comments. Now isn't that a happy coincidence?

 

So you can already start to see how these traditional branding principles transfer perfectly to the world of social media. Access to an audience of millions means it’s almost a given that your particular target market is also well represented and accessible. Social media loves images and stories - it’s how we’ve chosen to use this medium to create and foster relationships and makes establishing your brand identity and meaning a whole lot easier than it used to be.

 

In tomorrow’s blog post, I’ll continue with steps 3 and 4 in building a brand; response and relationships. It’s exciting to think that traditional tried and true marketing science can not only be successfully applied to a modern tool, but applied in a way that has the potential to produce better results.

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow,

Andrea

Photo credit: View from the top of the Rock, New York, by Dimitry B. via Flickr