Today we’re going to talk about your brand toolkit and how it’s going to make your audience love you forever. Don’t know why a brand toolkit is important? I’ll explain.
Branding is such a buzzword right now—and rightfully so. People are learning about how important brand presentation really is for getting ahead in their careers and in their own businesses. So, in efforts to feel in control of the opportunities that we seek, we’re spending a lot more time thinking about this whole branding thing that used to be reserved for large companies (the kinds that have ads on tv).
You’re not one of those companies, but you have a brand. Maybe you’ve just discovered this truth and don’t really know what to do with it. Maybe you’ve known about branding for years, but really haven’t figured out how to capitalize on presenting your brand in a way that works well for you. That’s cool. I have some thoughts that should help you.
Because you already have a brand, you won’t have to build your entire brand toolkit from scratch.
I am 99% sure you’ve already gotten started.
So, what the hell is a brand toolkit?
Yeah. I was expecting you to ask that. It’s a bunch of things that you, a person who has an online brand, can use to create an incredible brand experience.
Your brand toolkit isn’t a list of colors and fonts that you can use to stand out or look good. It’s not a list of words you want to add in your mission statement. It’s not a bunch of trickery that’s supposed to get people to think that you’re something you aren’t.
None of that shit.
Your brand toolkit, however, can be the rabbit you pull out of a hat that makes your clients or customers want to see you perform again.
But, Naya. That sounds like trickery.
Not if you’re a wizard. And, when it comes to your product or service, I’m expecting you to be a wizard.
Now, let me tell you what’s in this toolkit.
[Heads up: this post comes with a free workbook. Get it at the bottom of this post.]
If you haven’t been told this yet: whatever it is you’re offering is the most important part of your brand. This makes it the first piece in your brand toolkit. Without a service or product there is nothing for people to expect from you, therefore there’s nothing for anyone to trust.
Even as individuals (who aren’t selling anything), our brands come from what we do. As a friend, my brand is built on me being supportive of and honest with my friends. That’s what I offer and that’s where I’m able to deliver. If, as a friend, I’m expected to be honest but I lie to my friends every day, I’m going to have some issues keeping the trust of my audience.
Even if my brand decorative elements—let’s say these are the things that I wear—consist of blue (a color that evokes trust) sweater sets (that remind people of their loving grandmothers) people will stop trusting me if I don’t deliver what they’re expecting. So, you can pick the best logo, the best colors, the best looking website, but if your product doesn’t match your audience’s expectations, your brand has failed. Even if it looks the part.
Your Opinion & Voice
Your product is probably not something that only you offer, but the way you offer it is what sets you apart. How you sell your product, what you think about how your product is solving a problem in the world, and how you approach offering your product are what make your brand, and therefore your brand experience, different from anyone else’s—even if the actual product is very similar to something else.
Remember that it’s your experience and who you are that make you the best person to deliver your service/product. Don’t shy away from the way you think or the way that you communicate. It’s those pieces of who you are that will help people feel connected to you.
You have a website, right? Of course you do. Use it. Use it to promote your services. Use it to promote your team. Use it to answer any question a potential customer might have.
Your website should be a hub where people can interact with your brand—and buy services/products if appropriate. It’s not something you get just to say you have one. It should work for your brand to help people learn about you and start trusting you.
But if you don’t have a website and want one that really speaks to your brand, this might help you get one.
Your Business Card
You still talk to people in real life, right? Good. I don’t care how many computers/tablets/phones you have, business cards are still important. Especially if people aren’t carrying them as often these days. Use them to make yourself stand out. A business card should be a staple in anyone’s brand toolkit, whether they’re predominantly online or offline.
Remember, people aren’t supposed to keep your card forever. The card’s only job is to get people to contact you after first learning about you. That moment of contact is when you solidify the early stages of a relationship with this person—a relationship that won’t require them to use your card to find you anymore.
Your Social Media Accounts
Social media is such a key piece of your brand toolkit in the online space. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, G+—whatever you’re using—give you the chance to reach your audience wherever they already are. There are many ways to bring your brand to them (hint: if you’re going with a visual channel, you might want to illustrate what you have to offer to help you catch eyes).
And while we’re on the topic, use your bios! Your bios on social media serve as digital business cards. Twitter, for example, allows you to introduce yourself, mention your location, and a website where you can be reached.
I could have just mentioned this when I discussed websites, but they’re not always the same.
If your blog is your site, just sit tight for a sec. For the rest of you, your blog is where you update content related to what it is that you have to offer to your audience. This gets updated regularly and promoted as often as you can. You might not take this same approach with the non-blog portion of your website, because there may be very few fresh elements to offer.
Blogs give people reasons to come back to a site regularly. They also give you a chance to reach new parts of your audience because you wrote about something that presented you in a new light, or reached them in a way you haven’t been able to reach them before.
Example: Suzie is a Cat Whisperer, so she really has no interest in any of my User Experience posts. But, now that she’s started blogging, my post discussing how to get people to read your blog has caught her attention and now she’s on my site regularly learning about content and websites and a bunch of other great things she didn’t care about until she read the one post that became relevant to her life.
Follow Up Emails (and tweets)
Follow up with your audience. Did they sign up for your newsletter or service? Send them an email. Did you meet at an event and think your service could really help them? Say something. Keep the contact warm.
Thank You Cards
I know, I know, I’m back on this paper flex. But, hear me out. Think about how warm you feel if someone sends you a card for your birthday rather than a text. C’mon. It makes such a difference. We don’t get as much mail as we used to—and when we do it’s almost always a bill. If you have an address, send thank you cards. That is all.
Well, you’re an expert on what you offer, right? So help people out. Get involved in a Twitter chat. Post on a message board or a forum. Help out in a Facebook group. It strengthens your brand’s presence and the amount of trust your audience has in you—if your advice is good. Which it will be, right?
Yep. It will.
Now that you know all of that stuff…
Put all of your tools to use when you’re looking to make people aware of your brand and what it can do for them. To help you do that, I’ve made a FREE WORKBOOK that you can use to sharpen those tools in your brand toolkit. Scroll down to get your copy!
As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think.
If you’ve read all that and the idea of having to set up social media accounts and a new blog or get new business cards all sounds overwhelming, I’ve written a book that might be able to help you get that together.
COME GET YOUR FREE WORKBOOK