Your big brand doesn’t just happen. It’s not a fluke.
It’s the result of deliberate actions, taken consistently over time.
But what should you focus on first? And how should you go about getting things done?
In today’s post, I’m sharing sixteen ways you can whip your brand (and your online business) into shape. Take this list, and use it as:
- Your to-do list for the upcoming new year
- Your growth plan for the near future
- Your motivation to get the items mentioned done, once and for all
- Your reading and resource list to learn more about areas you struggle with
The first area of focus is (as always) design.
Because before prospects interact with your words, they see how you’re presenting your business.
Your Visual Brand
Your visual brand is the way your business appears to the outside world. Because — after all — appearances make up our first impressions.
Your visual brand is the first thing prospects perceive about your business.
And if we make a bad first impression, we may not get the chance to make a second impression. So let’s get it right from the start!
1. Choose two colors
One of the easiest, fastest ways to establish a visual style for your business is to choose two main colors to represent your brand.
Why two? Two colors are easier to remember than three, four, or five. They make an immediate impression, and are easier for you to implement, too. (When looking for a color to use, you’ll be choosing from a list of two options only.)
For help finding the two main colors that work best for your business, take a look at this business color resource page. And if you need some professional guidance, consider my Brilliant Brand Color guide.
2. Choose two fonts
Once your prospect see your overall visual presentation, they’ll begin reading your words. And the “voice” your words will speak in is established by the fonts you use to display those words.
Use a formal, classic, serif font? Your business will be seen as well established and conservative.
Use a casual, friendly, sans-serif font? Your business will be seen as contemporary, friendly, and open.
3. Use images wisely
Our culture has embraced visuals by necessity. With so many words to understand and process, visual communication provides a much-needed cognitive break.
Using visuals to communicate means implementing them on every page of your website, and wherever you are sending out brand messages on social media, in email marketing, and in print.
It’s not as complex as you might think. For more on using visuals for your business, take a look at the visual marketing information here.
4. Be visually consistent over time
At this time of year, many of us are making grand plans for the year ahead. We dive in to them in January and our optimism runs strong.
Then we get busy. And we lose focus. And we forget what we were aiming for.
The only way to make a dent with your visual brand is to make the decisions mentioned above, and apply them consistently over time. Choose your colors, fonts, and representative images. Use them next month, six months from now, and two years from now.
Resist the urge to redesign. Stay the course and give your visual brand a chance to sink in and be remembered.
Your Verbal Brand
Your verbal brand is the way you talk about your business.
What you say matters — every word counts.
It’s the words you use to explain what you offer, and what makes your business different from your competitors’ businesses.
5. Choose a compelling business name
It’s not easy to find a business name you can live with, especially if you’re just starting out.
You find a name you think you’ll like, but — chances are — your business changes over time. You may find your original name doesn’t work anymore.
That’s why I recommend you don’t get too specific with your business name. Let your tagline (see below) communicate the specifics instead.
For more on naming your business, check out this post and to discover what to avoid when naming your business, read this one. And if you need some professional guidance, consider my Business Name and Tagline guide.
6. Use a tagline that tells your story
Your tagline is the short sentence that follows your business name. It shares additional information about what your business offers.
And it’s one of the most underused pieces of marketing copy ever.
Your tagline can make up for a multitude of sins.
- Business name too general? Get specific with your tagline.
- Hard to tell who your business serves? Speak to them with your tagline.
- Your main selling point not coming across? Shout it out with your tagline.
7. Find a brand promise that explains what you stand for
Your “brand promise” is a one-paragraph blurb of text that serves multiple purposes. It is perfect for:
- The Home page on your website
- A way to introduce what your business does at networking events
- Explanatory text on social media profiles
Your brand promise is a longer, more in-depth version of your business name and tagline. And — coming soon — I’ll be offering an ebook all about how to write a brand promise that helps drive people to your business and position your offerings in their minds. Stay tuned.
8. Write these things down, and use them consistently
For your verbal brand to make an impact, you’ll need to apply these words in the same order, in the same way, every time you talk about your business.
Get used to it! Because for your particular verbal brand to be remembered, you have to say it the same way consistently over time.
Let’s say that again: for your particular verbal brand to be remember, you have to say it the same way consistently over time.
So get started! Craft your words carefully and start using them today.
Your Marketing Plan
Here’s where things get interesting.
What you do with your time is what leads you to success.
We’re going to look at putting actual tasks on your calendar that will attract the kind of person you want to attract to your business.
9. Know your ideal customer: they’re the reason for your marketing
Hopefully you’ve got this one figured out: your ideal customer is the person you most want to reach with your offers.
He/she is that person who needs and wants your services or products offer. And, they’re will to pay for them (an important point some forget).
Sometimes, over time, your idea customer shifts. So if you’re a little fuzzy on who you’re aiming for, take the time to be sure you’ve got a crystal-clear vision of who this person is, and what motivates her.
10. Decide on your main marketing focus
Your marketing focus will change from quarter to quarter and year to year. That’s why deciding on your main marketing focus is an ongoing process.
Before you set out to conquer the next few months, spend some time planning your most-important goal. Is it:
- To increase profits?
- To generate X number of leads?
- To sell more units or hours?
In the next step, we’ll be covering small short-term goals. For this step, think BIG.
What major goal would you like to accomplish by the end of the next three-month period?
11. Plan three more goals
For this step, I want you to think about smaller goals that may help get you to your large goal.
What are the big to-dos on your list? Those projects that may take many days or weeks, but which are necessary to grow your business?
Take some time to write these out. Aim for things you can get done within the next three-month period.
12. Create tasks and deadline around these goals
Now that you know what you’re aiming for, it’s time to chunk down your goals and attach deadlines to them.
Be realistic: how long will it take to get these things done?
Sit down with your calendar and spread them out over the weeks and months ahead. Assign plenty of time to each item. Plan to get sidetracked and delayed (because you know you will) … but plan to get them done.
Your Courage to Act
Isn’t it fun to think and plan?
If you’re reading this (and especially if you’ve gotten this far), you probably enjoy educating yourself. And that’s wonderful.
But, if you don’t get beyond educating yourself, thinking, and planning, you won’t get very far.
Have the courage to take action — today.
Because in the end, progress only happens when you have the courage to act on your plans. That’s what this section is about.
13. You don’t have to “know it all” to make progress
Part of what drives us to learn more is this feeling like we’re not quite “good enough” to put our business offerings out in the world.
Once we’ve mastered ____ (fill in the blank), then we can start.
And what tends to happen is that once we have in fact mastered ____ we discover a whole new level of things to learn.
Rather than focus on learning more, spend your energy finding the people who need what you offer right now.
It may not be perfect. It may not be what you want it to be in the future.
But someone, somewhere, needs exactly what you offer.
Spend time finding them. Listen closely to how they talk about their needs. And refine your offer so it fits them perfectly.
14. You don’t have to have a perfect plan
Almost as fun as educating yourself is planning, which we’ve talked about here.
But you don’t have to have a “perfect” plan in order to make progress.
Actually, the perfect plan usually unfolds as the result of taking steps. So again — taking action is what gets you where you want to go.
15. You have to find the courage to take the first step
That first step is a tough one. But for every successful business you come across, someone took that first, courageous step.
They didn’t know ahead of time if it would work. They may have been afraid they’d fail completely.
But they stepped forward, despite their fears.
You can, too.
16. Know that you’ll stumble and make mistakes.
Embrace mistakes: they’re part of the process.
You’ll stumble, and you’ll make mistakes: guaranteed.
This is part of the process. It’s the way business works!
Set out on the journey knowing you’ll experience great triumphs, and days of great learning. (Because isn’t it better to call failure “learning?”)
Where to start?
Go through this post again. Use it as a checklist. Of the sixteen items listed here, you may not need to tackle all of them.
Decide which ones you’ll work on. Click around on the resources here to learn more.
And pay a visit to the comment section below to let me know how it’s going: I’d love to cheer you on there!