On Wednesday evenings from 8 to 8:30pm ET, I host #MakerBizChat, an Instagram event to help Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs build a solid business foundation, increase your income, and use your business to create the life you love. Our topic last night was 10 Ways To Stay “On Brand” In Your Maker Business, and the conversation was lively and informative.
Branding is about more a great logo and memorable marketing collateral. In fact, those thing only scratch the surface. If you are wondering what you can do to not only look good for your customers, but also create a lasting impression that leads to sustained sales over time, then you need to dive deeply into the questions and answers below. I promise, you will emerge with ideas and strategies you can start using *today* to improve your brand.
You can read the full transcript on Instagram at this link. Because Instagram is designed for mobile viewing, the entire chat on Instagram, which has nearly 100 comments and some great questions and discussion, is best viewed on a mobile device.
Here is a summary.
Q1. WHAT IS “A BRAND” AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
1. There are many definitions, but mine is: your customer's (and the world's) perception of, and experiences with, you and your products, which evolve consistently over time based on the promises you make and keep (or don't keep), and which reflect the values you want your brand to stand for. Notice the components: PERCEPTION, EXPERIENCE, YOU, YOUR PRODUCTS, CONSISTENCY, TIME, PROMISES, VALUES.
2. It is important because, without a brand identity, you and your products are just like any other commodity. For Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs, the brand at least as important as the products you make and sell, so at least as much attention should be given to the brand. An effective and sustainable brand should be clear, speaking consistently for your business in all venues: website, in written marketing collateral, on social media, business cards, etc.
Q2. WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF BRANDS THAT ILLUSTRATE THESE POINTS?
1. Starbucks: known for an experience, not just coffee. Associated with employee fairness and integrity by way of the CEO, Howard Schultz.
2. Etsy: known for years for “handmade” and for artisan communities, the brand is shifting now that the company has gone public and sells more than handmade.
3. Zappos: they brand themselves as a “customer service” company that jut happens to sell shoes.
Q3. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO START BUILDING A BRAND?
1. Be clear about what you and your products stand for and about what you want to be known for.
2. Create a branded materials that reflects those values: logo, letterhead, brochures, product labels and other marketing collateral.
3. Speak and engage personally in ways that are consistent with the brand. For example, there are some people who use profanity incessantly in their blog posts and elsewhere. The profanity actually becomes a part of the brand over time.
4. Build a team and/or a “tribe” that is reflective of the brand. Your employees should reflect your brand, and the people who vouch for or consistently tout the relevance of your brand in the marketplace should also be consistent with your brand.
5. Stay in constant contact with your customers to ensure that they remain an integral part of the branding process over time.
Q4. HOW DO I PROTECT MY BRAND LEGALLY?
1. Make sure your brand name is not being used by anyone else to identify their products or services. If it is, it's best to choose another brand name.
2. Once you settle on a brand name, register it with the United States Patent and Trademark office at http://www.uspto.gov
3. Always be on the lookout for people using your brand name to identify their products, and take action to put an end to it. You can use Google Alerts to monitor the Web for use of your brand name by others. (https://www.google.com/alerts)
Q5. HOW DO I USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO STRENGTHEN MY BRAND?
1. Display consistent branding materials (logo, etc.) across all social media platforms.
2. In addition to your own promotional materials, share content that is consistent with your brand. For example, our member @bodysystemsteri, who sells spa products, Instagrams photos of spas, spa baths, etc., Our member @sparkleflycandles, who sells candles and home fragrance products, Istagrams about home decor and DIY home projects.
Q6. HOW DO I ENSURE THAT PEOPLE KNOW WHAT MY BRAND STANDS FOR?
1. You can tell them. At your website, newsletter, blog, social media bios, etc., tell people what your brand. stand for. For example, the Indie Business network stands for “Break all the rules, build your won corporate ladder, create the life you love.” You see it in my Instagram bio here and you hear it when you listen to my podcast.
2. Maker sure it's in your marketing materials, brochures, business cards, and other written materials. Also, use colors that are consistent with your brand. Get more ideas in this area using this awesome graphic from @fastcompany http://www.fastcompany.com/3028378/leadership-now/what-your-logos-color-says-about-your-company-infographic
Q7. WHAT MISTAKES SHOULD I AVOID WHEN IT COMES TO BRANDING MY BUSINESS?
1. Do not be confusing. For example, if you never EVER Tweet about social injustice and your brand has nothing to do with that, don't suddenly start a stream of Tweets about social injustice.
2. Do not be disingenuous or inauthentic. For example, don't start Instagramming using hash tags about a popular topic just to get more eye balls or followers. Doing so can kill your credibility.
3. Do not be inconsistent. If your brand is built on stellar customer service, deliver that. If it's built on luxury quality, then don't offer a new line of products under that brand that are priced to attract Wal-Mart shoppers.
Q8. HOW TO MY PERSONAL BRAND FIT IN TO MY BUSINESS BRAND
1. Your personal brand is a part of your business brand. If your brand is all about fun and whimsy, then you cannot walk into a room looking sullen and frowny-faced. If your brand is all about natural and curly hair care, then a perm will kill your brand and alienate everyone you are trying to get to buy your products.
Q9. WHAT IF SOMEONE STARTS USING MY BRAND OR A SIMILAR BRAND TO MINE?
1. The first thing you should do is refer to step 4 above so that, if someone does infringe on your brand (your trademark), you have the force of federal law behind you to get them to stop.
2. You should retain an attorney to help you. Now, this may be expensive, so you might have some DIY options, but they are very dependent on the circumstances. You could try to contact the person yourself and get them to stop using your brand, but that is hit or miss at best. This is not legal advice. Get an attorney to help you. I can refer you if needed, just DM me.
Q10. HOW DO I CHOOSE COLLABORATIVE PARTNERS TO COMPLEMENT MY BRAND?
When you collaborate with other people, make sure their brands complement yours with regard to the collaboration.
When Is The Next #MakerBizChat?
The next #MakerBizChat will be Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at 8pm ET.
Our guest will be announced shortly.
#MakerBizChat takes place Wednesday evenings at 8pm ET on Instagram. Be sure to follow so you can catch all of the questions and participate in the live and lively discussion.
Need More Support?
If you need assistance building your business, the help you need is only a few clicks away:
• Indie Business Network: Product liability insurance and virtual entrepreneurial coaching and training
• Indie Cruise Caribbean Retreat for Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs
• Maker Mastermind Experience: live and in US cities nationwide