July 27, 2014
As a business owner, you’ve probably put a lot of time and thought into your brand. You know the purpose of your business and what you hope to accomplish. You understand the mission and values that you’ve put in place going forward, and you’re sure of how you’d like to reach out to your target audience.
For many business owners, that’s where the branding efforts stop. It happens for a good reason: daily operations take over and initiatives seen as “more important” become the priorities. However, as any successful business owner will tell you, success is dependent upon how well a brand is built. Your brand is what represents your company to your target market; it helps determine your position in your marketplace or industry. It’s who you are.
Not sure where to start or how to fit in branding initiatives with the other responsibilities you’re tasked with on a daily basis? Follow these five steps for building your brand in your spare time.
1. Respond during downtime
The more you interact with your fans and followers – both of blog posts and traditional social media – the higher your engagement levels will be. The higher your level of engagement, the more your brand will spread over time. When you have a few minutes, check out your social media accounts and blog comments. Respond to positive and negative feedback. Post something fun – a special, a coupon code, a story that relates to your brand, an infographic, or a meme. The more responsive you are, the more your followers will get to know you. It doesn’t have to take long, but it can make a large impact on your brand.
2. Work on your visuals
Does the content you create and share consistently align with the other content you’ve created and shared? If not, your brand will not be cohesive and your overall efforts will fall flat over time. Content that you share should have a similar voice and overall feel – it all starts with visuals.
Ideas of where to start include:
- Color schemes. Your website should match your blog and your logo.
- Filters. If you post photos or use Instagram, your photos should have a similar feel; this can be accomplished by using a consistent filter.
- Logos and mascots. If your brand has a logo or mascot, it should be prominently displayed across all marketing materials. The idea is that if your content is shared outside of your website, there should be no doubt about who created it.
3. Be strategic with content
Far too often, brands go with the “I need it so I’ll throw something together quickly” approach to content creation. When this is the approach, content lacks direction and purpose and target audience members begin to take notice.
Content should be valuable and relevant. It should spark the interest of readers and provide actionable information that builds your brand. To work on content in your spare time, create a content calendar and set up news alerts to follow what’s happening around you. Share information that makes a point – even if it’s not created by you. The more useful the information you provide, the more likely your followers are to come back for more. Content is an important aspect of brand-building.
4. Sum up your business
If someone asks you what exactly you do, your answer should be simple, straightforward, and to the point. Think elevator pitch.
Your pitch should convey who you are, what you do, and what services or products you provide. An easy format includes:
- An action phrase (“My brand is…”)
- A sentence about what you do (“We provide…”)
- A statement that conveys impact (“Clients have seen success in…”)
- A call to action.
Simple is best.
5. Follow your efforts
Use social media metrics and online analytics to measure your brand’s performance. What’s being said? What’s being shared? Where is there room for improvement?
When you have a better understanding of what tactics are working and what’s falling short, you’ll have a better idea of where to focus your time and energy. Start small and fill your spare time with small branding initiatives. Over time, those will add up and your strategy will be more complete. Brand building doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing endeavor; small steps can make a big difference. The time to start is now.
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