You know that whole ‘if your business was a person, who would they be?’ thing?
It’s not just something people ask at networking meetings, or to get comments on a Facebook post.
It’s a fundamental part of what your business is, and how your audience experiences that.
Here’s the easy bit
Now obviously, if your business is just you (like mine is), it’s a pretty easy question to answer.
And that should absolutely be your answer – your business should reflect YOU. 2 reasons…
1) It’s authentic. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, people will see through it.
2) It’s easier. You’re the best person in the world at being you – you were made for it!
Just a little aside – for a lot of people who do 100% represent their business, it can be difficult to identify aspects of ‘you’ that are demonstrated by the business. Some people struggle to connect personal values with business values, and some don’t want to bring their personal lives into their business.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to reveal your love of trashy magazines or crisp sandwiches!
But if you’re a ‘just get on with it!’ person, embrace that and make it part of how you work with people (not shouting at them, but giving clear directions and encouragement). If you’re more of a ‘that’s OK, you’ll get there when you’re ready’ person, make that clear in the way you present your services (otherwise clients who need ‘just get on with it!’ will be frustrated and unsatisfied with you).
Also – yes, another even further aside – if you’re in a partnership or team, you need to decide on one overall personality that represents how you want the business to be perceived. That’s probably going to be a mixture of things that represent both/all of you – or a totally created character if there’s a few of you!
This stuff is important – here’s why
Having an authentic brand image gives people an idea of who you are before they meet you. It lets them decide if you’re a good fit for them, and sets their expectations.
That whole ‘people buy from people they like’ stuff that I keep banging on about? This is how they know if they like you!
Here’s an example…
If you met the person behind this business, what would you expect them to be like?
Spoiler alert – it’s ME!
When I first started out in business it was at about 10 minutes notice – so I used the name of my then-Twitter account, a photo I’d taken on Dartmoor, and a colour palette I chose in seconds.
I know, right?! It was a lovely website, but it didn’t reflect me.
So I went through my own brand identity workshop (yes, I’d totally neglected to do that – duh!).
Got the right name, used the colours that totally represent me (matched to swatches from the hair colour company), and asked my tattooist to create my logo.
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘uh-oh…’, here’s what to do next.
1) Take a breath, make a cuppa, and don’t panic. The sky isn’t going to fall in.
2) If you haven’t already read it, check out my article on brand values and work out what yours are.
Tip: Everyone wants to be seen as approachable, honest and having integrity, so let’s take those as a given (blimey, if you’re not then I’m fascinated to hear what sort of business you’re in!). Think deeper – what’s important to you, what will people connect with? Make sure they’re authentic to you and reflect the way you approach life.
3) Find a design style and tone of voice that demonstrates them.
This is where the professionals are GOLD
Working with a graphic designer will massively help you with that third bit.
It’s not an indulgence, it’s an investment. They’ll get it right, quicker, and give you a toolbox of stuff for the future so you don’t need to keep going back to them or designing adverts from scratch every time. Honestly. GOLD.
There’s a whole language to things like colours and choices of fonts. It’s subtle stuff, but people pick up on it and make decisions based on it.
You’ve all heard that red is associated with excitement and danger, right? And when you think of nature, green is the obvious colour, yes?
Well, there’s a whole series of those associations – colours, typefaces/fonts, shapes, types of photo, styles of illustration…
Now I’m not saying that you need to understand all these colour and typeface languages, but you need to understand that they’re important.
Using the appropriate design elements will make sure that when people encounter something about your business (your website, a social media post, a flyer, a video*), they get the impression that you want them to. The right impression of your business. The right impression of you.
They’ll use that impression to decide if you’re the right kind of person for them to work with. You know, to decide if they like you, because (say it with me!) – people buy from people they like!
* Yes, it’s more than just your logo design and the colour of your business card. The words you use, the way you present yourself, the places you hold meetings – all of this feeds into the impression people get.
A real-life example
Here’s a living, breathing example of how brand image works, in action.
These two companies are side-by side in a town centre in North Devon. They both do the same thing – interior design. But they look pretty different, eh?
What impression do you have of each business, from the way they’re presented?
So, what impression do your potential clients get, from the way you present your business?
Are you happy with that? Is it accurate?