Good afternoon Portland and Vancouver! Welcome to the AskDotty show – where you can get your questions answered about websites, social media, and doing business Online. This is episode 4. Today’s topic is Online Branding and I have 2 local experts with me in the studio:
Kristin Taylor is the On Call Marketing Director that small and mid sized business call on her to create strategic revenue generating marketing, so that they can focus on running their business and let her handle the marketing.
Welcome to the show Kristin!
Thanks so much Dotty – it is wonderful to be here and wonderful to be back at PRP.
What is Branding and why is it important?
Branding is really the heart of a good strategic marketing program. Branding gets its name from branding of cattle and other animals – where people put their mark on the animals. That is why a lot of people think that branding is a logo. It starts with a logo and really goes to your whole presence and the way you make your customers feel when they see your presence. That can encompass everything from a logo to a package, to an ad to an Online social media account. The key is that they all need to speak with the same voice, have the same look and feel, use the same colors.
You need to do the work of building that brand across all those platforms so that you are building equity and not having to reeducate your customer everytime they see a piece of your marketing.
How does branding apply to an Online business or to the Online presence of a brick and mortar business?
Branding is essential for your Online marketing because that consistency that I talked about earlier is absolutely able to be built Online. As you know, with websites you want to make sure your copy is consistent, that the voice you are talking with is consistent, your colors and what your page looks like is consistent with what your brick and mortar has inside the store. You really want someone to come to your page Online and have the same feel as the brick and mortar store.
You want your ideal client to see that piece of marketing and say, “Wow – this is a place that gets me! This is a business that really understands who I am and what I need, and I feel comfortable here and I know like and trust this business therefore I am ready to buy from them”.
Dotty – Your Online branding needs to match your offline branding so that when your customer does come to you they recognize they are in the right spot.
Kristen – That is exactly how branding works. You do not want someone to know you as a certain personality or certain look in a store and then go to your website and see something completely different. They would have total disconnect, loose the emotional connection they have with you. Every relationship begins with emotion, and emotion is a big part of marketing. The emotion has to be there – if they have to re-get to know you all over again you have lost that traction and lost your brand.
Dotty – They might even think they are in the wrong spot and go away.
I already have a logo – what else is involved with branding?
That’s a really good question. A lot of people think – I have a logo, I am done! And I never have to do it again. When you have a logo you want to stick with it for a while, and I love standing here and looking at the Portland Radio Project logo because it’s beautiful and consistent and the colors stay consistent. It is a great example of a logo that communicates a good brand. But a logo is not your brand, it is the beginning and it should give a feel for the kind of company you are, it should be a way that people get a sense of who you are, but you need to have ads, your voice – the way you write copy, your look , your colors. Everything from brochures to Online ads to social media – all of that needs to hang together.
Dotty – so the logo is the beginning of your journey.
Kristin – It can be the beginning or some people place it in the middle. So many people start with a Facebook page these days and the logo comes a little later. Don’t think you can spend 5.00 and get a good logo – but also don’t think you need to spend 5000.00 to get a good logo. There is a lot of wiggle room somewhere in the middle – the key is that you get something that resonates with your target audience.
Our next guest is Abbi Wood – Local Wordsmith
What you have to say is important, and being heard and understood is just as important. Abbi reviews communication strategies through multiple lenses to identify the connecting points so that your every word counts. She has been a Wordsmith for about 18 years, working anywhere from academic research to biz communications. Offering anything from proofreading to speech writing and strategy development.
Abbi – welcome to the show.
What do words have to do with actual branding?
A lot of times people think you get your logo done and that is it…it is so much more. It is the story, the experience that your clients and customers get. We do a lot of exploration around that to determine the brand voice. Bot only determining what language we are going to use but how.
When you say language I assume you are not meaning English or Spanish – can you explain what you mean by language?
Anything to do with your business – any communications from spoken to written, from marketing to service. There needs to be cohesion in all your written and spoken messages from your business. For example, when I meet someone at a networking event then go to their website it is like I am seeing two different people.
When I was at your website I saw a cool word – Biznality – what does that mean?
Biznality arose from working with clients and trying to understand their voice, so I could write in that voice. When my clients submitted a rough draft they were in their head so much that I could not get a sense of their personality. There was no authenticity coming through. It is a combination of Personality and Business – Biznality!
How do you bring Biznality to the business owners branding through words?
In short – we do exploration into their personality because that gives me an understanding of the layers that intersect with the business. Biznality is the tone in which you are speaking. It would be the tone that suggests or reflects the business personality. For example – this is a business that is humorous, or this is an entity that is more reserved. We are dealing with complex matters or delicate matters so they need to take a little bit more of a cautious tone with their clients or audience.
How are we going to approach this topic with clients in a way that nurtures the relationship, make that connection, engage them.
What is a Wordsmith?
A Wordsmith has fun with language. I play with words, craft sentences, I mould them until it fits the purpose. Not only reflect what it is that you want to say, but to craft it in a way that resonates with your audience – so that you can be heard – so that you can be understood – so that people can engage with you and get back in touch with you.
Dotty – That would be everything from your tagline to your actual sentences?
Abbi – Some key structures like that. Also your social media posts, your website copy, your bio. Your bio is very key – it is a key page that gets missed.
Dotty – A Bio is very important – people what to know who they are dealing with, as much as they want to know about the brand itself.
Abbi – I feel the bio page is partly responsible for the emotional connection that people make with you.
Do people bring the brand to you or do you actually help them think through this process with them?
We do a lot of exploration – from personality assessments, exploring how they do their business, all the what’s how;s and why’s in their business. We help them pull it all together and develop a strategy. Not just written language – maybe you are more suited to spoken language, so let’s develop a strategy around spoken communication – videos, podcasts, speaking engagements.
I am a really small business – I am just me. Do I need to worry about branding like a larger company?
I think ultimately everyone needs to do the best they can, because it is better than nothing.
Kristen – How does branding affect the bottom line?
Branding is the basis of having revenue producing marketing. Buying is completely and emotional decision. You are going to make the decision first in your heart then look to your head to justify the decision. That means you are going to get the emotion in your marketing first then to justify the purchase you might look at some “analytics” price comparisons, but you have already decided you really want that thing.
Branding is a big part of that emotional connection. Branding has become less of a catchword – content marketing is now the word. Content marketing is all of the content that you put out – what you put into your social media, what you use to communicate with your target audience. It has also become the heart of search engine optimization – how you get found Online.
Dotty – It has. and the content can be anything from text – blog posts, to a video, to a podcast, to images that you brand and put out through Instagram and Facebook.
Kristin – SEO used to be like this smoke and mirrors thing where you would put secret words into your website and if people searched for them you would come up. But now Google wants to look at your content and see what you are talking about, see what you are an expert in – which is all about your brand. See if the words are consistent – so it is really important to choose the right words.
Abbi, How do you help your customers find the right words?
We do a lot of exploration into the approach we need to take with their language. It is not just looking at what you are going to say, but how you are going to say it that represents who you are and engages the other party.
Where do you see branding going Online – any trends?
Kristin – you mentioned video – and that is the thing. Video is the thing right now. That means your brand is becoming less polished and more real. I really like that about branding – I think that it’s becoming more authentic.
Let’s say you are a Solopreneur. They are the only employee in the business and they wear all the hats. They are really the face of the business. They can get on video and really make a difference – build their brand through that authentic connection. Again you are connecting with your target audience. You can do videos with your customers, you can do behind the scenes type videos – which are really popular. It is all a process of getting to know you. It ties into the know, like, and trust trinity – which we know has to be there in marketing before people make a purchase.
Dotty – the push back for video that I get from my clients is that they are afraid they are going to make a mistake, they don’t know what to say, they have all these fears built up. In my outlook – it seams like video really tells people more about who they are dealing with, and what the business is really like. Would you agree with that statement?
Kristin – I totally agree. You do want to make sure you are not standing in your bathroom with your hair a mess – you want to represent yourself as your brand. You do want to have your “brand” face on – but it does not mean your hair has to be perfect or you have to lose those last 10 pounds, or the angle needs to be exactly right. The thing that really matters is that you are using the words that your customer is going to relate too. You have done all this homework on your brand and you know your client – you know what messages and words they want to hear.
Abbi, do you help people that want to do a video figure out what words to use?
We look at the rawness of who they are as a person. People get stuck because they feel like they need a certain appearance. Through the conversation I can get glimpses of the rawness and bring it out in a strategy. We explore who their audience is -what problems are they solving for them.
Dotty – you can help them feel comfortable about doing a video that builds up their brand instead of tearing down the brand.
Abbi – Yes – we honor their truest self. I feel that is where people will find a comfort zone in something that is generally very scary for people.
What is your very best tip for branding?
Kristin – for me the most important thing you can do is have in your head exactly who you are talking to. Who is your ideal client or persona. A fun way to do that is to get it as narrow as possible – get it down to 1 person you are going to reach. It does not mean you are excluding anyone, but it helps you focus your messages – focus your marketing – focus your brand. One thing that is fun to do is build a vision board of what this person look like, what they like to do, what colors they like, what hobbies they have.
Dotty – that helps you speak more directly to them…
Kristin – Yes you can speak directly to them – it gives you a handy cheat sheet – what am I going to talk about in social media. For example – my ideal person like to garden – so I am going to talk about gardening in social media.
Abbi, what one tip would you leave us with?
My clients get caught up in what they are going to say without considering the other party. So developing that persona can be really important. One trick I tell my clients – simply insert the word “you” or “your” can trick your mind into considering who is going to be receiving this communication. Thereby turning it into a potential for conversation.
Dotty – so you are turning it around so they are thinking about it from the other side.