Can you really figure out your brand in one sitting, before your tea gets cold? Yes, you can… once you understand the difference between “brand” and “branding”.
I’m going to give you two simple definitions which will work for the rest of your life (unless you’re a branding coach, in which case you’re into the very technical stuff).
Once you finish reading this post, you’ll be able define your brand in 20 minutes or less. Promise.
Did I mention the kitten?
To help ease along this process for the skittish and gun-shy, I have enlisted the help of a (probably too) optimistic kitten as my co-host.
Meet Bubbles. He's going to be your cheerleader through the process.
Now, let’s get to it.
Brand vs. Branding: The only definitions you need to know.
“Brand” is the very simple personality/identity combination that lets people pick a brand out of a lineup.
Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts. Walmart vs. Target. McDonalds vs. Burger King. Your ex-boyfriend vs. your other ex-boyfriend. You can tell the difference from the street, and you can explain what’s different in three sentences or less, if asked.
Each brand has a different personality and identity, just like the characters on Game of Thrones.
So the definition of brand here is “who you are.” There can be a million details inside that brand, but you don’t need to describe a whole lot to explain the difference between any of the brand examples above.
“Branding” is other details. Details that are more in the presentation category than the identity category.
Logos, trademarks, slogans, headshots, colors and fonts, layouts, how you present yourself (not just visually – also including the language you use).
Brand = who you are.
Branding = what you wear.
If defining your brand is hard, here’s why.
In my experience with more than 1,000 one-on-one clients, 99% of people who “get stuck on their brand” are trying to figure out their branding elements first.
That’s why it’s hard. You have to do it in the reverse order. Brand, then branding.
Otherwise you end up with a situation like this:
Your task: Pick out a great job interview outfit for… oh, there’s no need to tell you who. It’s someone. No, I won’t tell you what kind of job, either. Now, go pick out an outfit.
Unless you know who you’re dealing with, you can’t do it. Fortune 500 CEO? Starbucks barista? Sugar baby? You have to have the context.
And this is where people get stuck with “defining their brand”.
Answer these 5 questions, and you will have your brand.
Want to get unstuck?
I have 5 questions for you.
Answer them quickly and simply, and you can get on with your life and start making some money.
(I'll give you some examples, too, so you're not left in the desert to die.)
1. What’s your general topic?
Here we’re looking for the most basic of descriptions. Probably 2 words, maybe up to 5, max. If “the thing you do” was a book in a bookstore, this is the section label on the shelf you'd find it sitting on.
- Facebook Advertising
- Relationship Improvement
- Handmade Jewelry
Step 1 is saying your general topic out loud.
2. What’s your “angle” on that topic?
Whatever topic your business is dealing with, you’re not serving everyone. You’re serving only a slice of that market.
McDonalds doesn’t make “food”, they mostly make hamburgers. They don’t make fish tacos or souvlaki.
We will call this your “angle”. It is what you would say if someone misunderstood the type of business you ran and you had to correct them. It’s the answer to “I don’t do it that way” or “I don’t do it for those people.”
So, if someone who ran a 50-person SEO firm came to me for help and said “Oh, you do online marketing?”, I would have to tell them “No, I do online marketing for solo businesses.”
(I have this conversation with larger companies often than you’d think. C’mon, people. IttyBiz. It’s in the name.)
So, what’s your angle?
- Advanced Facebook Marketing
- Relationship Improvement (For Couples Who Both Want It)
- Selling Handmade Jewelry In Online Marketplaces
Step 2 is adding your angle.
3. What are your 3 favorite parts of that topic?
You can answer this question in 1, 2 or 3 of the following ways.
- What can’t you shut up about? What gets your geek on?
- What topics do you read / listen to / watch the most of?
- What do you think is most important to focus on inside that topic?
- Analytics, Conversion and Current Facebook Trends
- Empathetic Communication, Spontaneity and Self-Growth
- Product Photography, Customer Delight, Optimizing Costs
Step 3 is identifying your 3 favorite parts of your topic.
4. What can you help people be, have, or do?
This applies to the content you can publish, the products you can create, and the services you can offer.
If someone came to you for help in the areas you mentioned in step 3, what could you help them do, be or have?
Small phrases are good here. The smaller, the better. They should all be outcome-oriented and specific.
- Use analytics effectively, increase conversion, and use the latest tactics
- Connect with their partner, bring the spark back and become their best self
- Create stunning catalogs, create customer loyalty and increase their profit
Step 4 is laying out what you can help people be, have, or do.
5. Who would click with you (vs. who would pass you up)?
Most people will not click with you, not because you suck, but because they are in a very specific space in their life.
Sometimes you want fine dining, and sometimes you just want a salad at Wendy’s.
(If you’re the one selling lobster Thermidor, the Wendy’s lovers are not bad people. They’re not unreasonable puppy-kickers. They’re just not in the market for your particular menu right now. Your job is to focus on the people who want what YOU have to offer.)
This comes down to that “specific space” in someone’s life – their attitude and their state of readiness. When what they want matches up with who you are, you get their attention. Click!
So, we’re going to figure out who would choose You instead of Someone Not Like You. Who would and wouldn’t like your offerings or your approach.
- People with budgets and a love of tech vs. people just getting started, easily overwhelmed or hesitant to spend money
- People who believe great relationships are possible and want to put in the deep effort vs. people who prefer simple tips for simple issues
- People who are heavily into the business side and already good at making jewelry and have time / money to invest vs. people who are learning the craft and are a little nervous about selling.
Note: These are all examples of people who are into something in-depth. They could easily be reversed for people who want straight-up entertainment and simplicity. This is the basis for the entire magazine industry. If you want a “simple tips” blog, you’re 100% allowed to do that.
Step 5 is writing down who would click with you (and who wouldn't.)
Poof! That’s your brand.
Until you’re already making at least a full-time income (or more) from your business and trying to expand past that, you don’t need to put one second more thought than this into your brand.
These 5 questions will give you all the direction you need in the “Who am I, What do I do, and How do I do it?” department.
You can take the answers to questions #3 or #4 and use those to make your tagline if you’d like.
You can take the answer to #5 and make it the core of your content plan and your About page.
And then – THEN – deciding what to wear becomes easy.
Would you like a high-five? If you complete this exercise, get in touch and let me know. I’d love to congratulate you on a job well done.
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