Saturday, February 22, 2020

Brand It!

Cattle ranchers burn a symbol in the hides of their cattle so everyone will know that they belong to their respective ranches. Corporations have logos for the same reason. And today, people buy products based on their recognized identity. So what does branding have to do with freelance writing? A lot.

Do you think brand management is just for BIG companies like McDonalds, NBC, or Target? Think again. Branding is important to ALL companies for the simple reason that people buy from other people. People have personalities. Branding establishes and communicates a company's personality—your personality, otherwise known as your image.

In business, branding is the process by which you try to become the first business a person thinks of when they consider buying goods or services in your category. It’s the process by which you attempt to differentiate your business from your competitors. Although your name and logo are important features of your brand, there’s a lot more to it than that.

Think about YOUR company. Yes, even if you’re a company of one. What personality or image do you want to present to customers and prospects? Should it be warm, friendly, and down-to-earth? Polished, knowledgeable, and sophisticated? Well-traveled, cultured, and educated? When someone hears your name, do they think of a certain type of writing?

Do your current promotional materials—brochure, Web site, Facebook Page, etc.—reflect the image you want to present? Is your personality presented consistently in all forms of communication? If not, here are some ways you can make this happen.

To begin, you need to consider four key steps in managing your brand once you’ve created it. The first is to position your brand among others by identifying your unique benefits and image. Next, you need to develop a plan for making your brand identifiable. Then you need to guard  the integrity of your brand so only you use it. And finally, you need to build awareness of and preference for your brand.

Managing a brand is an ongoing process, not a destination. The work is never done. From time to time, you’ll want to tweak your brand to make it easier to identify or to make it stand out from those of other writers.

The secret to good branding is you shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. If you’re trying to grow your business, it might seem logical to expand your offerings, but that’s unlikely to be successful in the long run. It’s often better to narrow your focus until you’ve created a new category you can be first in. Many writers work as generalists, so no one knows them for a specific type of writing or for a specific subject.

You also need to control how people perceive you and your brand. It’s important that people are able to describe you and your business accurately. They need to know exactly what you’re able to offer them.

So rather than having the "right" name, the best brands are those built from the ground up on customer service and community. There's only one problem. You can't force a brand into existence overnight. It takes time to develop a successful brand—months, even years. But once it’s established, a good brand will stay in the spotlight, perhaps even longer than the business, itself.

Please check out my Web site, Writing at Its Best, for some example of my work over the last 35 years. Also, to see a highly developed online magazine on antiques, which I launched in 2015, go to The Antiques Almanac.

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