Branding - What it is, Why you need it, and How to use it.
You are ready to go. You’ve put in the time, earned your certifications, and poured too many hours into your now impressively running website. Your goals? Written out numerically on the spreadsheet detailing your 5 year-plan.
You are ready to start providing value and helping people reclaim power in striding intentionally towards fulfilling their potential and manifesting their dreams.
...So where is everyone?
You glance clients here and there, and non-stop email campaigns and outreach within your network has kept clients flowing in the short-term. But the never-ending energy expense of constantly hunting for your next lead leaves little time for re-centering yourself with your long-term vision and goals. Definitely NO time for strategizing and planning out your next big business moves. Don’t even begin to mention time for a little R&R.
We know the top rules of marketing:
But there is still one crucial step that most life coaches miss: Branding.
What is Branding?
It’s a loaded word. Having lived in Los Angeles for the past 6 years, I’ve come to enjoy a love-hate relationship with the now-trending lingo.
I started out absolutely repulsed by the concept of ‘Branding’. It felt like a pointless box that stripped me of my enormous range of dynamic complexities that underpin the human condition and experience, instead translating me into a bite-sized and colorless digestible summation of 2-3 qualities simplified for the general public’s consumption. (*rant over*.)
To some extent, this is true. Branding revolves around grouping all the elements of your business under a distinct and value-aligned core theme that provides ultimate clarity in who you are and the services you provide. The more specific your brand, the more you’ll resonate with potential readers looking for your unique guidance and energy.
Branding is important. If you don’t believe me, look at industry moguls like Coca Cola, Apple and Ford. They’ve all created departments specifically invested in defining what makes them unique, and ensuring consistency across all marketing and business campaigns. Procedia Economics and Finance released a study remarking on how “Associating your product with a strong brand identity is a key factor in competitive advantage and leads to great financial rewards.”
Clearly there’s something to this ‘branding’ thing...
But beyond the ambiguity and general understanding, what is branding exactly?
When you look it up, you’ll be met with a generic definition supplied by Google of “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design”. The other definition had to do with marking something with a branding iron to show ownership.
Both definitions point to an unspecified term of a picture or logo denoting ownership. As times change, so do meanings. What once served as a term for differentiating one’s property from another is now a means of translating what you are all about through the form of imagery and strategic marketing. All in a matter of a few seconds.
Consider it the face of your business - if you don’t define it, your consumers will. And they may not pick up on everything you want them to without putting in some time defining your brand identity.
When it comes to marketing, branding should be used intentionally and strategically. This does NOT mean incorporating insanely cheesy, skin-crawlingly obvious sales techniques that immediately send your readers bouncing out of your website, never to be heard from again.
Incorporating a cohesive branding strategy that is aligned with your values and goals strengthens the specificity of your message and will resonate more deeply with consumers through a personal relationship built on trust.
According to Business Insider, it takes about 7 seconds for a potential client to make up their minds about your company. With approximately ⅓ of readers making decisions based on packaging, it is up to you to design a package that will instantly convey an emotional connection between you and your reader. In 7 seconds. How do you do this? Extensively Researched Brand Strategy and Consistently Creative Implementation.
So let’s break this down.
1. Background Research
2. Get Specific
3. Apply & Infuse
Step #1: Background Research
Before defining your Brand Identity, Voice, and coordinated elements, take a look at the clients you currently have. Who is currently drawn to your company?
Think about what elements of your company might be resonating with them specifically. If you are looking to expand your audience, you need to know what you are already doing well, so you can bring more of that to the table.
If you haven’t already sent out a survey to your current subscribers or on your social media channels, do so today! Figure out what your ideal client wants in a company. What are their pain points? How are you solving their problems? What are you offering them to build trust and connection?
If you don’t specifically know your clients, you won’t specifically relate to them any more than the next life coach down the *virtual* road.
Dig deep. Invest in listening to your clients so you can custom tailor your writing and services in alignment with their needs and goals.
Tip! If you don’t feel comfortable sending out an email survey yet, or feel you’d rather have a larger following first, don’t skip this step! Get specific in defining your ideal client. Speak to the truth of human experience, and even across different worlds, people will feel the truth in your words and be drawn to your message.
Step #2: Get Specific
You know what your clients are looking for. You know you provide it. But how do you communicate it?
Your branding directly influences all elements of your company. Dive deep to define exactly what you do, why you do it, how you want to be seen, and how you do it differently than others in your field.
Here are some questions to get the creative juices flowing:
Remember, there are no wrong answers. Just unexplored avenues that might ultimately resonate more deeply and colorfully with your target audience.
Step #3: Apply and Infuse
Now for the fun! It’s time to apply everything you’ve been thinking about to create an all-expense-paid relaxing vacay for all your readers into the world that is your company.
Think about the biggest brands out there. Compare Trader Joes to Ralphs. Both offer groceries-galore and household items. However, they each use entirely different brand messaging to appeal to two different consumer bases. Ralphs highlights their range of products, convenience, and competitive low prices for individuals who value cost over quality (and brand label).
Trader Joe’s, on the other hand, leverages their branding as the go-to spot for healthy, organic, fresh, and high-quality foods and household supplies, while still pricing itself at an affordable level. Every element of each Trader Joe’s store enhances their brand.
—> Polished wood shelves that stop at about head-level instead of towering above our
heads promote a more rustic and old-timesy convenience store, transporting customers to a simpler and more interpersonally connected time.
—> Handwriting-emulating fonts and bold primary-colored labels marking different items and prices promote a hands-on, friendly, and personal style of attention and service.
—> Their logos and brand campaigns? All use a vintage/antique filter that enhances our perception of how established Trader Joe’s is. With bright colored food taking center stage on top of simple, clean and pure images of antiquity, a sense of nostalgia and simpler times is conveyed with every interaction you have with their brand. Not to mention the usually present addition of beach imagery or circus imagery - all images point to a fun affordable and nostalgic brand with personal and friendly service.
When it comes to applying your brand, think about the five key phrases or words you want people to feel when they head to your store or click on your site, and infuse them into your content, design and marketing strategy.
Let’s make this a bit more practical, and focus on language.
How does your brand translate into language?
Are you focused on helping high-powered and business-oriented clients eradicate stress without short-changing their ambitions? Using language that is clear, to the point, and doesn’t waste any time providing value might be most effective in reaching those clients. These clients tend to be more results-driven, so sprinkling in science-backed evidence for your techniques and tangible steps for practice will provide enormous value to them and will give you a head start on building up their trust in you.
Maybe your brand has found its audience with women in their mid-30s through mid-50s who have found themselves in a life they never chose, living dreams they never wanted for themselves. Your work focuses on healing their inner child and proving their self worth beyond the limiting beliefs they’ve been telling themselves over and over again in their minds. Your tone might find a more lyrical approach, with emotive stories and metaphors rooted in experience that convey loving support, intimacy, and hope.
These are just two examples. There are no wrong answers, just keep honing in and exploring everything that makes you unique.
While we just went over language and tone, there are many areas in which to infuse your brand identity. Here’s a checklist to run through before publishing new content and inbound marketing campaigns.
Tone & Wording
Grammar & Sentence Structure
Font & Formatting
Social Media Posts
Web Copy, Services & Descriptions
Blog Posts/Writing Topics
There you go!
You are now ready to get started on fully fleshing out exactly what you want your brand to say, and how you want to communicate that to your clients.
Remember - you are defining yourself NOT to limit the amount of potential clients you reach, but to make yourself more appealing to your ideal clients. The truth in the specificity of your words will ring loud and clear - but you have to commit. Commit to defining your narrative, so your readers don’t leave your website uninspired and unconnected to the help and experience you offer.
YOU are the value in your business, not simply the services you provide. Your expertise, your training, your life experience and energy - THAT is what keeps your clients coming back for more. They trust you as a guide - it just takes synthesizing the energy you give off in person and infusing them into your copy and design elements.
Now this might sound like a lot of work. Hell, I won’t hold any punches - IT IS. This is why many coaches choose to outsource the parts of their business they don’t have the time, energy or desire to deal with. Discovering and building your brand is a full-time job. Implementing it, another.
Aligning all elements of your business with your goals and values takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. If you have any questions or want to learn more, set up a Free 30 minute session using my contact form, I’d love to join you on your journey.
If you decide against outsourcing, make sure to give yourself time when sifting through what works and what doesn’t. Just like the process of self discovery, definitions and labels seek to put words to the unknowable. There is no failure, only choices that serve your goals and message even better.
Now go off and spread your message to the world - your future clients can’t wait to find you!
Thanks for reading! As always, I hope this article served you in your journey and would love to hear your ideas and feedback. Please reach out to me with any questions - I’d love to work with you to discover your unique brand and implement it in your work.
Sending much love and gratitude,