Branding principals 101 for beginners - Is branding something you're struggling with or can't quite grasp? Stay tuned, this episode is for you! Potentially great products could be left out in the dust because the concept of branding is hard to grasp, while other mediocre products seem to be all the hype. Learn quick beginner principals to apply to your biz today!
I received some interesting questions over the past month about branding and the biggest things there is to know before starting a business. I go over branding 101 briefly in my online course, the Entrepreneurial Herbal Lab. the market will always be saturated and so the big takeaway is to make sure your branding is on point so that you stand out.
You can grab your Branding 101 Quickstart Guide here! It will help you to discover your brand, create your brand, promote your brand, and continue to monitor your brand through small exercises and self-assessments.
Over the course of the pandemic, we have had to make some changes and pivot along the way. Unfortunately, Kartra wasn't able to pivot with us. As Blu Radical Apothecary continues to grow we needed a platform was right along with us. While we transitioned into memberships and apps Podia was right there with us. Kartra is still an amazing system and I still recommend them, but full transparency - it just wasn't what we needed at the time. (updated 9/9/2021) Running a full time online business will come with many changes along the way, it will never be a one size fits all, and I love sharing what works and what doesn't work with you guys. The truth is, there are so many amazing programs coming out and tons that are updating to fit current world altering situations. Don't ever be afraid to go in another direction, just because something worked for you 3 years ago doesn't mean it's still the right fit for your business now.
(Original content from this podcast) Katra is an all-in-one comprehensive system that I use in my business. Kartra allows me to run my business without having to worry about things connecting from separate platforms because it does everything within itself. I run my courses out of Kartra, email marketing, lead pages, webinars, and more.
I used to use six to seven separate systems to keep my business running and I was so overwhelmed because I had to make sure one integrated with the other before I purchased it. If one didn't integrate, I had to hunt for a new program. The task was so daunting I thought about just stopping my business altogether because it was a complete mess.
Kartra came along like a sanity-saving fairy godmother and gave me back my time, money, and sanity. If you are just getting started in your business and are looking for an amazing program I 1000% recommend Kartra. A lot of old-timers advise against using an all-in-one system, in fear of it disappearing. But, they are honestly working way too hard and paying way too much because this is the future: An all-in-one system where you don't have to purchase an email marketing provider, a lead page generate, a shopping cart, a help desk, an integrator program, and all the other bs.
Branding 101 For Beginners
These are what the most successful companies use to gain an edge on their competitors from design, effective logos, the right name, the difference between advertising and publicity, why you should promote certain aspects of your product or company, and more.
Don't Chase Trends, It Will Dilute Your Brand
So, let's start with basic branding 101: what's the first thing you think about when I say - and I hate to use them as an example, but for the purpose of this exercise: the Kardashians… if you are having trouble pinpointing exactly one thing or a direct image, that's possible. As they have expanded in so many ways, they have also grown weaker in the sense that you can’t hone in on one main idea or product because they are literally all over the place, but not in a good way.
This is common for brands to do. They put short-term interest ahead of long-term strategy which is using things that are “trending” as opposed to products that will always be in style. This then dilutes the brand image overall. Markets are always in the state of flux but just be wary and don't go trend-chasing.
Narrow Your Focus To Grow A Stronger Brand
A company's brand grows stronger when it narrows its focus. I'm sure you may have heard this and I'm guilty of saying it too. Oftentimes coaches, mentors, or trainers tend to say "find your niche." Meaning you want to be crystal clear about what it is that you are offering and who you are offering it to. You will begin to grow a stronger brand by being laser-focused on your one to three things category.
For example, at heart and where my business started was as an Apothecary. I sold teas, tinctures, hair products, skin products basically anything an apothecary would sell. Then I started to add handmade art and some print designs. And now I have online courses that specialize in starting your own apothecary and also easy marketing. I treat all three equally, share about them consistently, and give each an equal amount of attention. However, if I decided to start a makeup line, then juicing, and maybe a line of athletic wear, I'd be all over the place. No one would be able to say that I'm known for something in particular because it would be too broad.
Make sure that you are really creating that customer bond. Where if someone were talking to a friend, and that person was asked what it is that you do, that it would be clear and precise on exactly what that is. So ask yourself what do you want to be known for and to be the expert in. When you go to build your brand, people will know exactly that.
Singular Name With A Singular Focus
Safeway, Walmart, Albertson's, CVS, Apple, Preggo, Target. Do you know what these all have in common? They are all singular names and they all have a singular focus. Basic branding 101 is that the best names are short, unique, and meaningful. Steer clear form generic names like natures best, nature's way, or nature's secret. While they might still be great products, they are forgettable and don't stand out enough to catch a potential client. If you yourself are the brand as a coach or meteor, using your name can be just as impactful.
Blu Radical came about after a trip I took to Sedona. After getting my aura read, I decided to keep the color Blue close to me. The word radical or root radical meaning coming from the root of a plant. It made sense as I was about to start an apothecary, hence, Blu Radical was born. I haven't heard or seen anything related to my field with such a name. A lot of similar companies use herbal, herbs, plant, organics, green, growth, natural, earth, and so on. It was short and easy enough to expand on in the future. So, for the blog it's, The Rad Blog, and for the podcast, it's The Rad Show. Simple. As you brainstorm, think about how you can take a word out of its normal context, but use it in a way that represents what it is you are trying to convey.
Logos Should Fit Into The Eyes Of The Person Seeing It
While starting my apothecary I was also in school for graphic design and marketing. I've done a ton of logos and branding over the years and because of that, I feel as though I'm qualified to say the following. One of the most important things to remember when creating a logo is how a logo fits into the eyes of the person seeing it. I learned this next bit from a professor and it stuck with me since. He said, "Think about a human face. Our eyes are laid out along a horizontal line and the most visually striking logos mirror that line."
Obviously the layout is not the only thing that matters as there is typography and color. But as you are designing your logo think about the way the words or imagery work together to create a harmonious effect. A great exercise to do is not to jump on Pinterest. Although, that's probably what's going to happen, but to take pictures of all the typography and logos you see around town or in travels. Print and lay them out on a board so you can clearly see them. Take note of what you like and what you don't like that way when you go to design it yourself or ask a designer, you know exactly what you want to accomplish.
While Pinterest is a great tool, sometimes it's overwhelming with too many choices and you get tricked into thinking what you think you want, even though you don't. So if you do browse, browse intentionally to not get sidetracked, which is what always happens to me!
Publicity Trumps Advertising
While paid ads such as Facebook and Pinterest are expected, what's really important is publicity. Guess who your new publicist is? Why is it you of course! You are your own publicist. I tell all my students this in what I teach. You are your own hype man and cheerleader because no one knows your brand better than you do. Advertising comes next, but you need to get the word out there first, otherwise no one will know you exist and it will be exceptionally hard to stand out in the crowded marketplace of today.
While you might not be the first person to invent the wheel, you can still put a twist on it with something that’s different and unique. As your own publicist, you want to make sure that all your social media bios have information regarding who you are, what you do, and what you are offering. I have a blog post about optimizing all your social media bios that is great branding, but also will help to grow your email list at the same time. Not only do you want that information in your bio, but you also want to make sure that your captions are relevant to your brand as well as the image that accompanies it.
Be The BEST Not Just Better
Advertising's main purpose is to defend your gains in the marketplace once your brand has launched. When you go to advertise keep in mind that you don't want to compare yourself to others as in “I'm better than this company sign up here!”. It's not that you are better than other companies rather than you are the BEST in your given category overall. People will rarely care if you are better than a few companies versus being the best in your industry.
Advertising does not build branding, it's just useful in being able to establish your immediate presence. Advertising campaigns are quick to vanish. If you take a look at everyday advertising, you will notice this. It's all the hype for a moment in time, and then you’ll have to recreate a new campaign or new strategy. My main focus when building a brand would not be advertising. Ads would be the cherry on top of my solid brand foundation.
Word Association Will Keep You Front Of Mind
Have you ever played that game where someone says a word and you have to yell the first thing that comes to mind when you hear it? This is powerful because you've associated specific things with that word over time. What if you could become known for something by word association? Smart, powerful brands use their names interchangeably with one single positive concept. Again, I teach this and it's not something I've invented obviously, it's just brilliant marketing and branding 101 that my students need to be aware of.
When you talk about yourself on your platforms, what else can you be known for? What can people associate you with? Myself, I'm known for online marketing, my avians, herbal remedies, and my guilty pleasure plaid! I want someone to think of me when they see or hear about these items. I want to be front of mind even if they don't know me personally, but follow me, listen to me, or have taken my courses. If someone is starting a business from scratch I want a friend to say like oh “Sarah can help you!” or “Omg I know this online educator who has a parrot!" or “ I follow this woman and she makes a lot of her own natural products.”
It's not only about focusing on your brand's best attributes, it's about making yourself synonymous with a concept that distills the essence of your brand. Humanize your brand by talking about everyday things that people can relate to as well. I don't want to be stone and just known for X, when I'm more than that as well, as I am a human. Being professional doesn't mean you can't be relatable and it also does not discredit you from what you are doing. So, if you want to be known for potatoes start talking about potatoes and frequently. Whatever that looks like for you.
Get Credentials Even If You Have To Offer FREE Products Or Services
Now let's say, you've narrowed your focus, found a name, logo, publicized your existence, and are starting to gain traction. But, to really gain that know, like, and trust factor you're going to need, some credentials to create positive perceptions. Even if you have one review, it's still a credential, you made an impact on someone's life and you have the evidence to prove it. From this, you can create a post or ad to use in your favor saying, “Instant results with one click! Becky got xyz results, here's her testimonial. You don't have to take my word for it!.”
You know what I mean when I say this because you have probably done it yourself. Have you ever shopped online? Amazon for instance. You found something you adore, but then you take a glance at the reviews because this is what really sells you. If I show up with a product and say, "This is the best!" without any feedback to back up my claim, people might be a little hesitant to purchase. What if you have a crap product, but the very best reviews? Ultimately your crap is going to sell.
Your marketing strategy comes into play when establishing said credentials. A strong brand is a brand that is perceived to represent quality. So serve quality any way you know how. This friend is what keeps them coming. People see what you are doing for other people, you are beginning to establish your credentials and positive perception. If you are just starting out, you might have to give free products, free sessions, free coaching, or free clarity calls, in order to get some feedback to use in return. In the long run, this is what will give your brand quality.
What If You Want To Reinvent Your Brand?
Our last point in branding 101 it to know that building a brand doesn't happen overnight. This is something you are signing up for, for the long haul. If you decide to reinvent your brand consider these three things:
1- The best time to make a change is when you don't have anything to lose. If your brand is weak, inconsistent, and making little impression on the minds of potential customers. Change it up.
2- If your profit margins are large enough for you to consider lowering your prices. High prices are often used to foster a perception of high standards, but charging less doesn't damage a reputation for quality. The brand would be welcomed by all classes and would still be associated with a high-quality product, but now great value for the price.
3- You have the time to let your brand evolve
So with all those in consideration would it be best for your brand? Have you consulted your audience and have they responded in a positive or negative way? Keeping an open line of communication with your people is crucial. After all, what if someone follows you from day one, and you decided to pivot without informing or asking them their thoughts? You would lose their trust.
You've worked so hard to maintain that know, like, and trust factor. You'd be throwing that all away because you chose not to communicate. My audience understands that while I will still be creating certain things in my business a lot of other things will be gone. They understand completely, especially during the pandemic. They also understand that if I feel the need to reinvent my brand, they will be the first to hear it. Last resort, you can always cut your losses, launch a new brand and rejoin. It's not impossible to start over. It will take some time but it's not impossible.
Being a successful brand is the understanding that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perception is everything. If you want a brand that stands out from the crowd and make a lasting impression you have to develop a clear message that separates you from the competitors. Narrow your focus, and maintain consistency.
Don't forget to grab the Branding 101 Quickstart Guide here.
Thanks For Tuning in...
to The Rad Show Podcast all about branding 101, don’t worry we have new episodes every week, there’s plenty more where that came from! Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one and if you want more, visit us here.
If you want to spread the love you’re more than welcome to share this podcast on Instagram so that others can get this info too. Tag me @theradshowpodcast so that I can give you a big virtual hug as a thank you!
A few things to catch your interest:
The Email Empire Growth Challenge, grow your email list starting today!
Episode 10: What You Need To Know Before Starting A Business, Listen Here