What is a brand?
I’ve been thinking a lot about branding lately. I started to put together my business plan for 2015 and beyond this week. I figured that after 3 years in the Financial Services industry it was time to make a long term plan for the type of practice I want to build and maintain going forward. For the first few years in business my unspoken mantra was “anyone with a pulse” but now I can afford to specialize a bit and focus my efforts in one or two of the more enjoyable (for me) areas of the business.
So that’s what started me thinking about branding. I need to create and nurture an image that attracts and resonates with my target audience.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned about branding this past week.
#1 – Branding is really hard to define.
I mean really hard. It’s not just your logo, or your mission statement, or the way you do business. It’s none of those things and all of them at the same time. It’s what people say about you when you aren’t in the room, what they say about you when you are in the room and what you say about yourself and your clients both publicly and privately. Your brand is who you are, nothing more and nothing less so whether you realize it or not, you already have a brand and a lot of it, you can’t control.
#2 – Your Brand will follow you where ever you go and stay behind long after you leave.
Branding is the impression you leave on people, yourself and your business.That’s one of the reasons why some people confuse branding with image. Image is a part of it, but it’s not the whole story. Each and every piece of marketing, sales process, and interaction you have from your business card to your website to the suit you wear and the events you attend form a part of your brand. You must be conscious of and conscientious about it at all times. Branding is also what you say and how you say it. A bad branding experience will haunt you.
#3 – Brands evolve but you still need to maintain consistency.
Over time as new opportunities arise, different products and services become available and more profitable, your client’s needs change, your expertise and interests change, your branding may change. That’s okay. Revisiting your brand message from time to time is a good idea. If you aren’t intentional about it your brand might drift away from you think it says and start to say something entirely different. But being intentional and consistent about the other aspects of your brand while it evolves is the key. Maintaining a unified image, logo etc can help smooth a transition until you are ready to make a bigger move but make no mistake, what people are saying about your image is far more important than what it looks like from a distance.
What have I missed? Can anyone else add to what I’ve said about branding here?
As part of the business planning process my brand is undergoing an overhaul. Much of what you see here will remain the same for the time being, until I’m ready to release it to the world but there will eventually be a new website, logo and possibly even a new name coming soon. Up until now this site has been a test market of sorts, intentionally minimalist and under promoted while l I worked out the kinks. Moving forward I want to be more consistent and complete in what I am saying about my personal brand and my practice. Stay tuned, big things are just around the corner.