In an overcrowded marketplace, if you're not standing out, then you're invisible. Establishing a brand is absolutely critical to long term, sustainable business growth - especially in service oriented businesses. The single biggest motivator in buying is not data, nor is it facts, it's emotional response. People buy when they feel comfortable, when they feel they can trust you, when the process feels natural and reassuring, and when they come to the feeling that buying will make them feel good.
The best way to captivate your audience is with an authentic and powerful personal brand. The benefits of a strong personal branding will give you an edge over your competition and enhance your value in the global marketplace. Branding identifies and differentiates you, your business and your products and services so you stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Your brand could make the difference between prospects and customers.
Once you have a powerful personal brand, the next step is to consistently communicate it through your brand identity: logo, business cards, letterhead, web site, invoices and any other outward communications you have.
I strongly recommend that every service professional develop a powerful brand first. While that process is taking place, I wanted to provide 5 simple tips that can be implemented quickly to provide an immediate improvement in your brand identity.
1. Have a consistent Web address and email address.
If you own a web site, then you own a domain name and it is hosted with an Internet Service Provider. For example, my domain is journeyavenue.com. Call your service provider and ask them to set up your email account. I recommend keeping it simple - firstname.lastname@example.org .
I recommend including a signature block with all your outgoing e-mail. A signature block is a four to six line mini-advertisement at the end of the message. This can be easily done within the e-mail software so that every outgoing e-mail will automatically include a signature block.
Resource: If your ISP doesn't provide this service, I recommend switching to an ISP that does. I have been very happy with MyHosting.com. Their plans are affordable and they offer email service if you don't want to move your whole site: http://myhosting.com/email/.
2. Use consistent fonts on your site and in your materials.
Have you ever been on a Web site that uses unbearably small type, or tries to cram way too much information in to a small space? Each aspect of your customers' interactions with your business, from awareness all the way through to sale, needs to be optimized for success. Any difficulty they experience, at any stage of engagement, is likely to cause you grief.
Web sites are now a key channel for people to interact with your company. They have become an integral part of 'the total user experience'. However, they need special attention as human assistance is rarely available should your customers encounter difficulties.
Ease of Use could be more broadly referred to as "Make Every Interaction Simple' because it encompasses the total user experience. The actual use of your product or service is only one important factor contributing to your user's overall impression of your company. This impression is formed by everything that your customers see and touch - by every contact with your product or company, through any channel, and for the entire life cycle of your offering.
Consistency is one way to improve ease of use. I have noticed on several small business sites where the fonts are very inconsistent. They range in size and character type. My recommendation is to choose a font that is easily readable and widely available such as Arial or Verdana. People find comfort in fonts they recognize. If you choose a wild or funky font, your customers will spend more time focusing on the font than your message. Also, keep your font sizes consistent using a larger font for head lines and a smaller font for the body of the communication.
Resource: To see a complete list of fonts to choose from visit www.fonts.com. Just remember, if you send or view information digitally and the recipient doesn't have your font, it will default to something else.
3. Use consistent color schemes on your site and in your materials.
We all love to be creative and colors are an excellent way to express your enthusiasm for your business. However, using a rainbow of colors in your identity is confusing and makes communication hard to read. I recommend choosing two or three colors that represent your brand and stick with them as accents. I don't recommend using colors as font treatments regularly throughout your text. It makes the communication harder to read. If you want to highlight a specific communication try bold, italics or bullet points.
Resource: To see the meaning behind specific colors, visit: http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html
4. Print a professional business card.
Nothing against Vista Print or the cards with the perforations you buy at your local office supply, as I am sure there are some uses where they are appropriate, but do not use them for business. Primarily, your business card is an advertisement of your business. It is a representation of the value you will offer to your customers. Nothing says "Me-too' more than a card that everyone else has and is being passed around. Also, it communicates clearly what you are willing to invest in your own business and some might make the leap that it is a symbol of what you will invest in theirs.
Resource: For really inexpensive cards , you can go to Kinko's. For recommended designers , please contact UpLevel Strategies.
5. Use a professional head shot.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your headshot conveys your message and captures the essence of what your audience desires. If you are a success coach or consultant, make sure you are dressed professionally, and convey confidence and success.
Resource: A headshot doesn't need to be expensive. If you know what you are going for and have a strong sense of style, go to your local mall and get your pictures taken. If you feel you need more professional direction, call local photographers and ask them for a complimentary consultation. Just remember to get the rights to your photo so you can use it anyway you wish.
Brand: Your brand is the cultivation of a feeling. It is the emotional response of your customer to you, your company and its products/services.
Brand Identity: Your brand identity is the graphical and verbal representation of your brand. It is the way you communicate your brand promise to the world.
Copyright 2006 UpLevel Strategies
About the author:
For more information, or to subscribe to receive your UpLevel Strategies complimentary Business Mastery Success Kit ($997 Value) filled with countless tips and resources for creating more profit in your business , visit http://www.uplevelstrategies.com/bigfish.
Author: Kelly ONeil