Branding is about creating a unique image for your product or service. It’s how you differentiate yourself from the competition and it’s what helps you stand out to potential customers. It can be done in many ways, such as incorporating colors or fonts, using specific logos or images, or even the way you write your emails or talk in videos. Here’s how to brand your business with personality.
How to Brand Your Business with Personality
First, what is branding here? Here’s how I define it:
Your brand is the personality of your business.
In some cases, especially for small businesses and solopreneurs, your branding may also reflect your own personality.
When I was in college I attended a pitch party event where entrepreneurs pitched their startup ideas to a room full of venture capitalists. I knew that venture capitalists were notoriously professional and no-nonsense (kinda like the guys on Shark Tank but not Mr. Wonderful ;)), so I decided to shake things up a bit with a very unique elevator pitch.
I wore the usual pencil skirt and blazer to present, but I also added a few details. I used to design and sell products online like t-shirts, mugs, and buttons with quirky designs, so I wore a (not so subtle) “I Love Turtles” and vegetarian button with little illustrations of a cow, pig, and chicken. (Side note: for some reason that “I Love Turtles” design – printed on everything from mugs to shirts to buttons – is one of my best-selling things of all time haha).
I was pitching an idea for a vegetarian fast food restaurant that I dubbed Veggiesaurus (what else? :)) complete with a dinosaur logo I designed. At the beginning of my pitch, I pretended to read my pitch and then dramatically ripped up my script and improvised the whole thing. And my PowerPoint presentation was full of funny pictures of cats. Lots of cats.
I didn’t win, but I did earn a lot of fans that day. And I did manage to make a group of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs laugh like nobody’s business (ooh punny!). I’ve never seen so many happy venture capitalists.
It’s not about being the most professional or following the rules the best or coloring inside the lines better than anyone else. It’s about being yourself in whatever way that means for you, owning your unique personality, and infusing that into your brand.
Plus, making people happy wins you a lot of brownie points in business.
There were a lot of pitches that night, but I guarantee that people remembered the Lol Cats in my presentation better than they remembered yet another Times New Roman pitch about a social network that was going to disrupt an industry and “revolutionize” the world. And being memorable counts for a lot in a world constantly inundated with new information. Even in the networking after the event, almost everyone remembered my pitch and who I was and enjoyed it.
It’s not easy to put your personality on the line, because some people might reject it, but it’s worth it if you want a brand that stands out in a busy online world.
What makes you unique or different than other people? Channel that into your brand, and don’t be afraid to not follow the rules that everyone else is following for running an online business.
This is YOUR business. You make the rules, and unlike in corporations, small businesses with personality are a good thing.
It’s definitely possible to create a unique branding message in a way that makes a difference in the world, if only you know what you stand for. It’s actually easy to figure out your unique message if you first get clear on your own personal values.
The Best Branding Advice I Ever Received
First, the best branding advice I’ve ever received was from Ellen Ercolini during office hours for a course I was in. I asked her about how I should go about figuring out my branding (this was a few years ago), and this is what she told me:
“In order to get clear on your brand, get clear on YOU.”
It sounds so simple, but it can be super helpful if your business or brand is closely tied to your own personal identity. If you’re a coach or designer or copywriter, for instance, then it helps to have a brand that’s infused with your personality. And if you’re struggling with how you want to brand yourself, it’s possible that it’s time to do a little soul-searching! 🙂
What makes you tick? What are you passionate about? What do you love doing, and not love? All these questions can help you get to the bottom of your own personality, which will help you in branding your business. (Of course if your goal is to be a boring corporation then this probably won’t help ?, but this is for the solopreneurs or entrepreneurs with businesses close to their heart).
If you started your business because it’s something you’re passionate about, great! It will be that much easier to figure out your brand. In that case, just write from the heart and choose design elements or photos that reflect YOU.
If you’re trying to figure out a color scheme for your business, what colors would you decorate your room? Or maybe you already have a few favorite colors? Go on a site like Colour Lovers and look up palettes that include some of your favorite colors. Then for fonts, go for one strong or fun font that reflects your personality, and one plainer font for the body text.
If you’re having photos done, just be yourself! How do you act around friends or when you’re watching your favorite TV show? If you’re writing copy, record yourself talking about something so you can get a feel for your voice and the little quirks and colloquialisms you use. Don’t try to “be” a certain brand – just be you. 🙂
How to Create Your Brand Message
1. Start by doing a brain dump of everything you believe in.
First you’re going to want to free write all of your positive beliefs about the world, from what you believe about people to what causes you stand for. It can be something big like “I believe people are inherently good” or something small like “I think people should use reusable water bottles.” This is the time to get out all the awesome quirks and things that make you, you. 🙂
2. Define your core values
Once you have a few paragraphs of everything you believe in, start to identify what patterns emerge. Are all of your beliefs about animal rights, or maybe the environment or women’s empowerment? What themes keep coming up? Then see if any of these correlate to a particular value, such as integrity, love, truth, hope, or bravery. Are there particular traits that are unique to you? Get really clear on the topics you care about and your personal values.
3. Write out your personal mission statement
Now it’s time to organize all your thoughts. Based on what you believe in, what causes you care about, and what values you have, can you put together a cohesive message? Maybe you believe in women in technology, entrepreneurship, and bravery. How can you connect all of these? Your message might look like this:
“I believe entrepreneurship can change the world, and I support the bravery of female entrepreneurs charting new territory for future generations.”
4. How can you take steps to achieve your mission?
Now, how can you actually take action on what you want to accomplish in the world? With the above example, you could work to become a successful female tech entrepreneur because it covers all aspects of your mission statement. Or you could write down some baby steps for doing research on a field you’re interested in and want to learn more about.
That’s it! All you have to do to create your own unique message is figure out what you value, write out your mission, and then align your actions with that guiding statement.