We all have a brand. All of us, including solopreneurs and professionals, whether we want it or not. Visual identity is an important part of branding but your brand is much more than your logo.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”.
– Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Jeff Bezos couldn’t have offered a better explanation. Everything you do, everything you say, how you present yourself, how you dress, all of this is part of your brand, whether you are aware of it or not.
A Matter of Perception
Branding is all about the image – it’s a perception. The perception you have of yourself, but more importantly, others’ perception of you.
Here’s an example : you are young and dynamic. You sell an innovative service. However, the business card you hand out is lame and your website looks like it was built in 1995. For many potential customers, this could raise a red flag.
As entrepreneurs, we don’t always practise what we preach. But it would be wrong to think that these things don’t impact our business, or worse, not to realize that our brand is inconsistent.
In life like in business, diversity is what makes things interesting. To act like everyone else would be a big mistake. Your personality is what makes you unique. If you like to dress in an extravagant manner, do it. Just be aware that altought this could help you attract clients who are similar to you, it could also scare off a more conservative crowd. If you think you can’t afford to ignore these folks, there’s nothing wrong with compromising, as long as you stay true to yourself. You can choose a more neutral outfit and embellish it with colorful accessories for a first meeting. Chances are people will be more open and prone to accept you for who you are once they understand that your expertise is not linked to your style.
The fact of a matter is, everyone has preconceived notions. Ourselves included. Sometimes, it’s a matter of getting to know one another.
More Than A Logo
Branding is much more than a logo and goes beyond visual identity. The logo is definitely an important component of your brand but is not an end all be all.
Chances are that before you hand over your business card, you start by presenting yourself. Your tone, language, posture and overall presentation is what influences first impressions. Might as well set the tone from the start.
Think about what it is that you “sell” to people. If your marketing preaches honesty but you act very pushy when you meet in-person, some people could feel fooled, even if your intentions are good.
Understanding how people perceive you as an individual is the first step, even if you’re an entrepreneur operating under a business name or “just” an employee. Ultimately, you represent that organization and this extends to its vision and values. Its reputation is at stake.
Once you have a good grasp of this, you can turn your attention to branding as we typically refer to it – the visual identity of your brand.
Generally, the logo acts as the foundational element of this visual identity and dictates things such as colors and fonts.
Developing a logo should never be an afterthought. A thorough audience analysis is needed, as well as a reflection on the type of image you want to project and how this fits with your mission, vision et values.
Many people are visual. This is why a well-designed, appealing logo can be very powerful in raising your profile with people you’ve perhaps never even met.
- Pay attention to your message. It should be aligned with your overall presentation and your logo. A poorly crafted message or one that is unrelated can have a devastating impact.
- In a professional setting, strive to be the best version of yourself but don’t change who you are.
- It’s easy to let your guard down, and sometimes, one badmouthing incident can be enough to change someone’s opinion of you in a matter of seconds.
- Branding is all about the little details : the style of your promotional materials, the stock quality of your business card, the desire to write without any typos.
At the end of the day, branding is made up of different elements and can be very powerful and beneficial to any entrepreneur who wants to stand out and get noticed.