You’ve probably heard the phrase “branding is not rocket science.” But how do you establish your brand as an industry leader?
Comparing things to rocket science is a simple way to say ‘it’s not a hard job, anyone should be able to do it’. It’s a condescending catch-phrase we all use once in awhile to make a job seem easier than it actually is.
Branding Is Both Science and Art
The ironic thing is this: there are some key similarities between branding and rocket science. Just like in branding, before working on a project an aerospace engineer needs to describe an origin story. They need to explain why lunar exploration is worthwhile, and how they plan on building a spacecraft, for example. While the description will be more scientific than a business’s origin story, it serves the same purpose: to show the value of the work.
Consistency Is Key to Branding
The most important similarity between branding and rocket science is consistency. In both cases it is imperative to be accurate and thorough every step of the way. When it comes to branding, that means having a lock-down on the 3 most effective ways to establish your brand as an industry leader.
The 3 most effective approaches to branding are: craft a great origin story, bang that drum on all platforms, and get others talking about you.
These three approaches should encompass your entire marketing strategy and leave lots of room for change.
As Cynthia Johnson writes in Your Personal Brand Needs A Growth Strategy, entrepreneurs are always learning new tricks to expand the reach of their company. Branding strategy, whether for your personal brand or your company, cannot be set in stone.
Let’s take a look at each of these approaches to see how you can benefit from stronger branding.
Craft A Great Origin Story
Crafting a great origin story takes much introspection. It is challenging to come to terms with your own story and share it with the world in a concise fashion. You don’t want to go overboard with it, nor can you be too vague or simplistic. Toeing the middle line is what makes for a great narrative because it’s captivating from start to finish.
Bernadette Jiwa has spent a lot of time thinking about (and crafting) the perfect origin stories for her clients. She highlights the important intangible aspects of a brand that is implied in the story itself. In her opinion:
“Your story isn’t just what you tell people, it’s also what they believe about you based on the signals your brand sends. The story is a complete picture made up of facts, feelings and interpretations, which means that part of your story isn’t even told by you.”
So what can we take away from Bernadette’s description of an origin story? There are three things that stand out:
Needs to Be Authentic –
Your story has to be true to your life circumstance. Put quite simply: the truer your origin story is, the more people will become attached to it. Why? Because, as Andy Raskin puts it, an origin story reveals character. Have a brainstorming session with some of your most trusted associates on the question of origin story, and try to craft a human story that is uniquely your own.
Needs to Have Deep Significance –
Kylie Slavik has a lot to share on the importance of telling a great story. Her insight is incredibly valuable when it comes to the intangible value of a story in the world of business. She writes: “If you are selling something, people will naturally object to you and not trust you. Your job is to overcome that. Using facts, figures and logic won’t really do it. You’ve got to sell to their hearts.” That means tapping into the deeper significance of your business.
The way to attract broad appeal is to hit on something that everyone can relate too. Is your business ethic geared towards sustainability or fair trade? Put extra emphasis on that. The challenge is to align your business with a value system that people respect and want to support.
Does It Solve a Problem? –
It’s probable that your origin story will have something to do with scarcity and need. Were you struggling to find a service so you created one instead? Then go with that, as people love to see a problem solved.
Bang That Drum On All Platforms
Once an impactful story has been crafted it’s time to think about outreach. How are you going to make sure your story gets to as many people as possible? When it comes to establishing your brand as an industry leader, you are going to want to post consistently interesting content on all social platforms. That’s what it means to bang the drum.
But banging the drum does not only apply to your business profile – it also applies to your personal social media profile.
Influencer Marketing Is On the Rise
The last few years has seen an incredible rise in influencer marketing. You’ve probably seen it in action somewhere as a popular celebrity getting paid by a company to use their product.
With the rise of social media, influencer marketing has taken on a whole new level of effectiveness. A survey conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub found that influencer marketing was the most effective customer-acquisition method used by marketing departments. That’s a huge departure from the previous dominance organic search had over customer acquisition techniques.
The basics of influencer marketing are quite simple. As John White points out, these days people are just as easily convinced by regular folks as by brands. It makes sense: we all follow certain people on social media that we are interested by, and if they vouch for a certain product we are likely to follow suit and buy it.
How to Make Influencer Marketing Work for You
Shane Barker has some interesting points for how to make influencer marketing work for you. One important point he makes is to differentiate celebrity influencer from expert influencer. You would not want a celebrity selling a computer, for example. It would make much more sense to have a tech expert in that position.
Get Others Talking About You
Banging the drum on social channels is a great way to build a strong foundation. It will get consumers talking about you and generating some nice buzz.
Is social media buzz enough to sustain sales over the year? Probably not. If you want to be an industry leader you need to be recognized by everyone, not just consumers.
That brings us to the traditional news media. Though you might not notice it, there are still a number of very important websites for business traction. These include The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Yahoo.com, Business2Community, and more. Each of these sites pulls in thousands of global hits a day. If you can get a journalist from one of these sites to write about your business, it could bring more traffic to your homepage than 6 months of social media content production.
Take The Time to Contact Journalists
It’s futile to sit around and wait for journalists to contact you for a story. Even if your business is doing super well and you’ve carved out a huge market niche, journalists will probably still pass you by because you don’t represent an interesting story for them.
Your job is to convince them that you do represent an interesting story for their readers. How is this done? By slow and steady outreach.
The first thing you want to do is make a list of journalists relevant to your niche. Once you have that, start reading all of their work and get engaged with it. Make comments on their articles, share their work on social media, and send them emails with clarifications or added commentary if you can. That way the journalist knows who you are, and knows you are well-informed.
Then, when it comes time to pitch them your story, it does not feel like a cold-call or email blast from a stranger. Beth Adan has shared some common mistakes in pitching journalists. Most of the mistakes are due to impersonal communication – whether it’s pitching the wrong person, making a generic pitch, or sending just a press release without any context. The best way to avoid these errors is to make a strong informal relationship with the journalist months before sharing your press release with them.
Strong Branding Means Consistency
These are the three main ways to propel your company into the vanguard of your industry. While it might seem like a lot to take on in one sitting, do not get overwhelmed, because as you begin to work on these approaches it will become clear that they are inter-related.
A strong origin story will make it easier to get people talking about your business, which in turn makes a journalist more interested in writing about you.
The bottom line is that if you have a great origin story, a thorough action plan, and a team of employees you can trust, there is nothing preventing you from establishing your brand as a top player in the market.