Think of a well-known brand that you love. I’ll choose Emily Ley as an example. Now think about what you know about that brand. With Emily Ley, the word “simplicity” immediately springs to mind. I also think of pretty colors, organization, and elegance. How does the brand make you feel? Emily Ley makes me feel confident, understood, peaceful, and organized.
It’s not an accident that brands evoke certain feelings or bring certain words to mind. There’s a lot of planning, strategizing, and consistency that goes into creating a brand. Your brand is what tells your dream clients, “Hey! That problem you have? I know all about it and I have a perfect solution.” Without a strong, consistent brand, you can’t attract your ideal audience. You need to be laser-focused on every element of your branding in order to grow an audience you want to work with. Effective branding will repel some people, and that’s a good thing! You want to make sure your brand attracts your dream clients and repels the clients you’re not interested in serving.
Repelling people sounds harsh, but it’s actually doing both you and your client a service. With my Emily Ley example, she’s naturally going to repel men, because her products are uniquely designed and crafted for women. The visual design, the language she uses in her content, and the imagery she shares on her website and social media are all geared toward women. Emily Ley does not exist to serve men, so the brand intentionally repels men.
There are three main elements of your brand: your brand voice, your brand imagery, and your website.
Let’s start with your brand voice. Your voice encompasses all of your non-visual communication: your tone, word choice, slang or clichés you use, how you address your audience, your sense of humor, and overall vibe. Your brand voice isn’t something you just create out of thin air. In order to craft an effective brand voice, you need to think about who specifically you are talking to.
If your ideal client is a successful, no-nonsense attorney in their mid-40’s, your brand voice should be designed to speak directly to that person. What does that mean in practice? If you develop a brand voice that is relaxed, funny, and trendy, your ideal client is probably not going to listen. We breeze right past people who aren’t speaking to us. Instead, you should develop a brand voice that is direct, serious, and knowledgeable. You should veer away from using slang phrases popular with teens or young adults. If you make pop culture references, they should be from something your demographic would be familiar with.
Once you’ve developed your brand voice, you absolutely must use it everywhere. You can’t slip in and out of your brand voice or it will confuse your audience. This means you should use the same tone, phrases, words, and vibe on your website, in your emails, in your social media posts, and when DMing or talking with your audience. If you create a breezy, humorous brand voice on social media and then have a website full of dry, direct copy, your potential clients will end up confused and find you untrustworthy. “This isn’t the person I thought I was buying from!”
The photos and images you share on social media and use on your website tell a powerful story about your brand. Humans are visual creatures, and we often get more information from a picture than we do from a paragraph of text. We are also spending significantly less time reading these days, so when someone visits your website, it’s vital that the images they see clearly communicate your brand.
When I do personal branding photo sessions, there is a lot of research and intention that goes into the shoot. I get to know your brand—your values, your ideal client, your brand voice, and your priorities—before designing your photo shoot. It’s a customized experience that results in images that pull in your ideal clients and tell your brand’s unique story.
Your brand should consistently use the same style of images to build brand recognition. Is your brand all about being bold and funky? Your images should be vibrant, colorful, and a little funky. Is your brand all about tranquility and peace? Your images should reflect that vibe. It’s important to keep your brand identity in mind when choosing stock photos, too. Make sure they are a good fit! (And be sure to check out my free stock photos download if your brand vibe is joyful, empowered, and feminine.)
Website Copy & Design
Your website is often your first digital “handshake.” You’ll make the best impression with a website that clearly reflects your brand identity! I see so many people who do a wonderful job curating and using their brand voice and consistent brand imagery on their social media, but then their websites look and sound completely different. Your brand should be recognizable across every platform and channel you use, but you should take specific care to make sure your website looks and sounds like your brand.
Keep it Consistent
It takes some reflection and critical thinking to develop your brand identity, but it will change everything about your business! Once you have a consistent identity that is reinforced and communicated through your brand voice, brand imagery, and website, you will start attracting your dream clients. And when you can work with your ideal clients, your work will feel more fulfilling and you’ll perform your best. Then you’ll have clients who are obsessed with you and love your work… and it’s basically a fabulous cycle of winning!
Pro Tip: Once you’ve done the work, I highly recommend keeping everything about your brand in one place. I personally have a “Company Guidebook” on Trello where I store everything about my brand identity: ideal client, brand message themes, mission statement, core values, brand materials, and more. This way, I have a reference point for deciding if something actually fits my brand or not! When I’m developing content or making branding decisions, I will look at my Company Guidebook and ask myself, “Would my ideal client like this?” It makes everything much easier and keeps my brand streamlined and consistent!
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