How to Build an Authentic Brand that Stands Out from the Crowd

Before we get started, make sure you download the e-book version which comes with a free worksheet to help you implement each stage of your branding process!

 

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times already if you’ve been in the online business world for a while…

‘Be AUTHENTIC!’

‘Be YOU!’

‘Tell YOUR STORY!’

 

 
 Business tips: How to Build an Authentic Brand that Stands Out from the Crowd
 

 

But what does this actually mean?

The thing is, it’s not easy to be authentic and just be you with so many online business experts telling you a millions things you SHOULD be:

Doing

Saying

Writing

Sharing

Thinking

Believing

Behaving

Selling

Wearing(!)

 

What else…

 

Soon, all online entrepreneurs may start to look the same!

You don’t want that do you? And I definitely don’t want that for you either!

 

So let’s chat about branding today.

First thing first...

What exactly is a brand?

Your brand isn’t just about your logo or a visual representation.

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization
— Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap

It’s people’s perception toward a brand that defines it. This is created by your business through your story, marketing message, the content you share and how your business treats your audience.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy how it makes them feel
— Bernadette Jiwa

 

Your brand should:

  • Attract your target audience

  • Clarify what you stand for in the world

  • Communicate in a consistent, unique voice

A clear authentic brand will have all of the elements above but most importantly, your brand should be in aligned with your passion, values and purpose, as these represent the authenticity of your brand.

Apple, Rolls Royce, Amazon

As you go through this process have a think about some of your favorite brands. What is it about them you like? What keeps you coming back for more? Consider how can you become that brand in your chosen market?

 

So where should you begin?


Step 1: Narrow Down Your Niche and your Target Market

 

The first step is to make sure you are clear on your niche, so you know the exact area you’d like to focus on. You need to research your target market so that you understand what they’re struggling with, need help with and are looking for.

 

Explore Your Potential Market

A great tool you can use to explore your potential market is  Google Keyword Planner. To do this you need to open an account – but the good news is that it’s free!

This is a great way to find out if anyone is interested in your service or product and how much competition there is out there.

For example, if you decide to become a Health Coach, think about the area you’d like to focus on – for example weight loss, reducing stress, eating better etc. If you type in weight loss in the Google Keyword Planner, you’ll find that the average monthly search is between 100k – 1m and “high” in competition.  You’ll also see a list of keywords relevant to weight loss. It’s a great way to find out what topics people are interested in related to weight loss.

For example, you want to focus on vegan weight loss programs. An average monthly search for “vegan weight loss” is between 10k – 100k and “low” in competition.

 Business tips: How to Build an Authentic Brand that Stands Out

Next, you want to check if your niche is trending up or down. You can use Google Insights to check the trends.

 Business tips: How to Build an Brand that Stands Out from the Crowd 

 

The best scenario is high traffic (lots of searches), upward trend and lower competition.


Research your Target Audience

Internet Research

Once you’ve narrowed down your niche, you can use our favourite search engine tool, Google to learn about your competitors and target audience by searching for those keywords.

Brainstorm initial ideas for the services or products you’d like to offer and list them in the workbook, which you can download right here.

 

Facebook Groups

You can also leverage Facebook groups specific to your niche and type in keywords related to your niche into the search bar in those Facebook groups. Scroll through the results and pick out frequently asked questions and problems and add them to the workbook.

 

Interview Your Target Audience

You can also interview people who might be interested in the topic or create a survey.

Useful tools to create these surveys include Typeform (which I use) or Survey Monkey. You can ask specific questions to find out WHY someone would be interested in your services or products.

 

How do I find people to survey or interview?

The best way to find people for an interview or to survey is to use Facebook groups where your target audience hang out.

To find the right groups follow the steps below:

1. Type in keywords related to your niche in the Facebook search bar.

2. Be sure to select “Groups”.

3. You’ll see a list of groups related to your keywords.

4. Click the group you are interested in and read the description and make sure your ideal clients are in the group.

5. Join the group and wait for the creator of the group to accept your request.

6. Observe the group for a few days to get the feel of the group and to make sure that your ideal clients are there.

7. If you feel the group is the right fit for your brand, introduce yourself to the group and ask if anyone would be interested in participating in your market research interview or survey.

You can also interview your friends, colleagues and family members (and their friends) who may be interested in the topic.

 

From your target market research, write down your target audience’s biggest pains, problems, dreams and desires in your workbook.

 

This will help you get clear on how your audience wants to feel (and what they want to achieve) and help identify the solution(s) your business is going to offer and how you can start to shape your brand.


Narrow Down Your Target Audience (but not too far!)

 

It’s important to narrow down your target audience to make sure that you are “speaking” directly to them. Many people tell you to be VERY specific with your target audience but I don’t necessary agree with that, especially for people who are just starting out.

It’s easier to narrow down your target audience once you’ve written down your values and philosophy (coming up next!) because you’ll know exactly who you want to work with, and who you don’t want to work with.

The more you speak to people and gain experience working with your clients, the more you’ll understand and find it easier to define your target audience.  

The best thing you can do when you are starting out is to observe what questions people are asking in different Facebook groups or other forums in your niche. Also delivering free sessions is a great way to understand your potential clients struggles if you are a coach.

Step 2: Craft Your Message

 

Your message and target audience is something that might evolve over time. So we are not talking about perfecting your message or picking your target audience and sticking to it for the rest of your life. But you must know who you are aiming for and make sure you focus on what they need.

 

‘Your message’ involves the following element:

 

Your tagline / elevator pitch / one-liner / key message / marketing message

(people name it differently, but it means the same thing!)

This is basically a short sentence explaining what your business is all about – which explains who you are, who you help, the outcome or the result you’re going bring, and sometimes it includes your mission or what you stand for.  

 

Your values

What are your values in your life and business? Also what do you value in others? It’s important to make sure that both you and your audience’s values are aligned.

 

Your philosophy

This is your beliefs about your industry, niche and business, what you stand for and your mission.

Don’t be afraid to speak out. You don't want to blend in with the crowd!

Be controversial – if that’s who you are.

This is what makes your brand unique but you must find and use your own unique voice when sharing your philosophy.

 

Your story

Your story is what differentiates your brand from others and what makes you stand out. Your story is also important to make build a connection with your audience on an emotional level, and that will inspire and excite your audience.

Think about why you started your business. Think about your journey from A to B.  It is important to be aware that you must connect your story to your audience’s desires and problems and not make it all about you.

However, don’t exaggerate your story in order to wow your potential audience.

The key to telling your story is to be ‘real’ – which is kinda common sense! But people seem to forget it.

 

Sharing Your Message

Your tagline is something that you should be including in your social media account profiles, as a tagline on your homepage, About Me section on your blog post etc.

Your value, philosophy and story is something you would include in your social media posts, blog posts, podcasts, videos etc. to put your message across to your audience while providing real value.  This is when the right audience will then resonate with you and want to learn more from you.

In addition, I include these in my welcome email that I deliver when people opt-in to my mail list. It’s a great way to make sure that your new audience is on the same page as you.

 

The danger of sounding like everyone else

We are all exposed to the marketing messages and different stories told by people online and within your niche and it’s so easy to get influenced by that.

Or perhaps you may be thinking that you have to sound certain ways to get heard and be seen.

It’s great to have someone who you admire in your industry.

But the danger is that you start using their words and phrases which may not sound like you and make you unique without being aware of it.

I’ve been there before and when I look back at some of my emails and social media posts, I cringe because it just doesn’t sound like me at all!

I highly recommend blocking out all the noise around you and start writing down whatever comes to your mind.

Then ask your partner or friends to have a look at your message. It’s so easy to get stuck in your own world. Find a pair of fresh eyes to look at your message and get some feedback!

Step 3: Creating a Visual Brand

 

Now you are clear what your brand is all about, it’s time for you to get creative with the visual elements of your branding process.

I recommend keeping it simple and stylish - too much variation can be off-putting and you want a brand you can be proud of!

 

Branding Board

Create a Pinterest account (if you do not already have one) and create a ‘Branding Board’ full of images that you feel really capture and express the essence of your brand. You can type in keywords in the search box at the top of your Pinterest account.

Make sure your ‘Branding Board’ is a secret board so only you can view this board.  

Then save any logos, colours, fonts, snapshots of websites that catch your eye.

 

 Business tips: How to Build an Authentic Brand that Stands Out from the Crowd

 

Brand Moodboard

Try and create a brand moodboard using Canva  from images you saved in your Pinterest Branding Board. This should include your favorite colors, fonts, textures & patterns, photography style, feeling and emotion that most express your brand,

 Business tips: How to Build an Authentic Brand that Stands Out from the Crowd

 

Your Colors

Upload your moodboard to Adobe Color CC. You will see hex codes for each colour to create a unique colour palette for your brand.

 

Your Fonts

Find out the name of fonts you liked or go to Creative Market, Font Shop or Google Fonts and have a search for the type of font you’d like to use as part of your brand.  You can then download your favourite ones.

I suggest selecting 3 different font types – one each from Sans, Sans Serif and Typography font groups.

 Business tips: How to Build an Authentic Brand that Stands Out

Your Logo

Brainstorm your logo ideas. If you are comfortable designing your own logo, use PhotoShop (or I use Gimp) to design your logo. If you’d like to outsource it, go to UpWork or Fiverr to find a designer and set them a brief.

Don’t rush the process! Enjoy and have fun with it.

 

Step 4: Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition

 

What’s a Unique Selling Proposition?

A USP is the factor that differentiates a product from its competitors.

Remember you’ve written down your target audience’s biggest pains, problems, dreams and desires in your workbook?

This is your opportunity to create offers that will solve your target audience’s biggest problems.

But you’ll have to make sure that the service or product you’re about to offer is different and unique from your competitors.

 

Ask yourself these questions to get started:

 

  • Think about what you can offer to your potential clients or customers that is unique to YOU – what are your unique abilities? What are your unique skills or experiences that you can bring to your product?

  • Look for holes in the offerings (features & benefits) of your competitors - what do they not offer that you can offer?

  • Think about providing 3 x more value than your competitors

  • Can you provide 100% satisfaction?

 

Step 5 - Be your Brand

 

One of the most important things to remember is that YOU ARE YOUR BRAND!

You can have the most beautiful website, logo and marketing strategy but if you offer a crappy service, are rude or even inconsistent in what you offer this will damage your brand.

Always conduct yourself in a professional manner, be firm but fair in the way you run your business.

This can be difficult, especially being consistent, but will help build a brand people choose to rely upon and recommended.

 

Final Note

 

Your brand is not something you can define overnight. It will grow and develop with you.

It’ll take a while to form your brand and then raise awareness within your target audience. Take your time, be consistent, professional and remember that it’s ok to tweak it as you go!

 

Now make sure you download the e-book version which comes with a free worksheet to help you implement each stage of branding process. Click the image below to download your free copy now!

 

Enjoy!