Representing your business when you’re not in the room

10 November 2017

I asked copywriter Michelle Nicol to talk about what branding means to her. She kindly wrote me a guest blog with a great exercise included on how to you use your brand to represent your business. Michelle tells all….

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

That quote by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is often used in discussions about brand. I think it’s a useful one because it points to a truth that can often be missed when thinking about your business brand.

Brand isn’t about logo, or colours, or messages and straplines. It’s about inspiring human connections and emotions. How do people feel about doing business with you?

Don’t believe me? Let me try an experiment with you…

What do you think of if I say ‘Ryanair’? What associations come to mind?

How about if I say ‘Virgin Airlines?

Both companies offer the same service (flying people from A to B), but chances are you’ll think of those two brands very differently, even if you’ve never flown with them.

Try another pairing. How about Disney and Looney Tunes? Again, two companies that produce family entertainment, but two subtly different brands.

Branding

What does this mean for a small business brand?

You may be thinking it’s all very well for big companies who can afford to spend a fortune on marketing to ensure that their brand is at the forefront of your mind, but what about me and my small business?

Small businesses do have an advantage over some of the big brands because we know our business relies on us as people doing business with other people. And because we can control what we say and do to reflect our own business brand.

How do I represent my business brand?

Think about how and where your business brand appears. Chances are you’ll have a website. You may have a shop or regularly appear at events and conferences. You may have a presence in social media platforms.

Commercial photography Morpeth Newcastle

When you’re in the same room as other businesses and prospective customers, you give off lots of clues about the kind of business you represent. At networking and other events, it comes through in the way that you dress, whether you’re approachable or aloof, how you speak and interact with people, as well as what you say in person and through your marketing materials.

Now think about your regular everyday business. How do you communicate with your customers? Through your website, social media, telephone, email or newsletters?

When you’re not physically face-to-face in the room with your customers, communication loses some of those extra nuances.

Speaking on the phone, people can’t see whether you’re in your pyjamas or wearing a suit and tie, but they will judge from your tone of voice and what you say whether or not they feel you’re dealing with them in a professional manner.

When it comes to communications that are largely written, such as emails, newsletters and social media posts, customers can’t hear your tone.

How many times have you read a text or message and thought it was a bit off-hand? They might have thought it was funny or sarcastic, but without the clues in their voice, it’s easily misinterpreted.

business women portrait

That’s why, when it comes to written communications for your brand, your words have to work really hard. Without all those outside influences to back them up, you have to make sure your brand message is clear and consistent.

How do I do make sure my brand message is clear?

Here’s a quick exercise to help you think about how you represent your brand when you’re not there in person.

Think about what you would like your ideal customers to say about your business. What kind of words would you like them to use?

Do you want people to think of your business as professional? How about friendly? Approachable? Quirky? Stylish? Exclusive? Kid-friendly? Value for money? Or something else?

Write down the top 3 or 4 adjectives that you think best sum up your business brand from a customers’ point of view.

Now ask some of your customers to describe your business brand in 3 or 4 words.

Score 2 points for any words that exactly match the adjectives you chose. Score 1 for any that are similar. Score -2 for any that are the exact opposite.

Add up your scores. A positive result shows that you’re on the right track. A negative one indicates that you have work to do.

Taking time to think about how the words you use on your website, in social media and throughout the whole of your marketing mix can give you a good insight into how you present your business brand.”

If you need some help finding the right words to represent your brand and attract customers, then a copywriter, like Michelle Nicol, can help you.

Michelle is a copywriter, trainer and brand storyteller who helps businesses tell their story through words that attract attention. A former BBC journalist, she loves nosing out a great story and sharing her writing expertise through training and workshops. www.word-struck.com @I_am_word_struck www.linkedin.com/in/michellejnicol/

For more blogs on Business branding check out How To Create Trust In Your Brand Through Images or The Importance of defining a Brand

Vicky Richardson

25 October 2017

…she really makes you feel at ease and brilliant with the children.

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25 October 2017

…the results are absolutely stunning, capturing the characters of the children amazingly

Louise Bainbridge

25 October 2017

Fantastic with children, very patient. Can’t recommend Rachel enough

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25 October 2017

Absolutely adore the photos we got from our session

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25 October 2017

The session was fun, relaxed and the resulting photos were stunning!

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25 October 2017

Great photo shoot session with our 10 month old twins!

The importance of defining your brand

24 October 2017

As a follow on from my last blog How to create trust in your brand, I wanted to find out more about the importance of defining your brand, when it comes to our business identity.

I asked my good friend Anna from Blue Tongue Design to share some of her knowledge.

”As businesses we should be building relationships, connections, listening to our customers, taking actions and always living up to the promises we make.
When you’re considering purchasing something from a company there’s always one very important factor that plays a big role here and that’s ‘TRUST’. You can like the look of the company, you may even love the product, BUT if you don’t trust the brand you’re not going to buy from it.

“A brand is a persons gut feeling about a product, service or company, you can’t control this process but you can influence it”
(The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier)

Branding

 

Brand has become more important now than ever before because of how today’s society has moved on, choices have increased so considerably and the average consumer is now exposed to 1000’s of advertisements, messages and images, and with google at their finger tips, it’s so overwhelming that having an emotional connection is more important now that it ever has been. If a company is able to connect with their consumers they have a genuine advantage over their competitors. Because once a person trusts a brand they can buy it now and worry about the rest later. It’s the trust element they feel towards a product, over its features and benefits, that can determine whether they buy one product over another.

This is why creating an emotional connection to your customer is so important, because in the end a company doesn’t define a brand, a brand is defined by individual people. Each person creates his or her own perception of it, and……..

“When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand. In other words, it’s  not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is”
(The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier)

Coca-Cola, Apple, Ikea, Virgin, google, Sony, these business’s are all about what they stand for, not what they sell, which is why they’ve become household names.

 

There are lots of different elements that define a brand, which can influence your brand such as the customer experience, product/service, visibility etc. You can influence your brand by communicating the qualities that make you stand out, but gaining ‘trust’ should be at the top of your list.

So you can’t control your brand but you can influence it, for example by improving your products/services, marketing, being consistent with your message and visual identity. Ensuring your visuals are clear and consistently applied across all communications reinforces your identity and drives trust. Consistent use of your logo, making sure you stick to your style guide, colour palette, typeface, correct use of spacing of your logo etc is all very important as this will help to strengthen your brand identity.
It’s worth investing in a good, strong brand identity as first impressions will count!”

Brand design

Anna is the founder of Blue Tongue Design and helps all kind of businesses with their brand design. The business has grown organically by word of mouth and referrals from clients who love Anna’s clean, simple, pared down approach to design. Anna’s modus operandi is to meet new clients and listen to them talk about their business while she sketches their words. She then goes away, conducts more research and distils all of this to the brand’s essence and that informs her design. An active, interested and analytical listener, she is exceptionally talented at this process producing insightful and sensitive expressions of the brand and indeed to developing clients’ thinking about their own brand identity.

Her work is characterised by a clean, elegant, honed down style. Its interest is in ease of use and communication. Of course communicating complexity in a simple manner is no small task, but she is skilled at finding the brand essence and making it visible.

Her work has been recognised by Logoloungue in 2015 and again in 2017 and has defined award winning community groups.
To find out more visit www.bluetonguedesign.co.uk

Portrait Vouchers

10 October 2017

Neil Woods, Edson Electronics

04 October 2017

Rachel has managed to produce a portfolio of shots that exceeded our expectations.

Matthew, Urban Candle

04 October 2017

Rachel always delivers the type of hi quality images and shots we need

Debbie Wade, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust

04 October 2017

Rachel has been a pleasure to work with as she is reliable, conscientious and importantly an excellent photographer.