Branding 101: You, Your Niche and Your Target Audience
I recently mentioned in a webinar that I became interested in branding after working in graphic and web design for clients who had no idea what branding was. Branding is a buzz word and it’s a little crazy that so many people still aren’t sure what it is exactly. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not your logo and font or even your brand color palette. Branding in itself actually has very little to do with those things, those are more along the lines of brand recognition and visual branding. I dig a further into the visual side in the Branding 102 post.
There are millions of posts on branding and I read a good bit of them before writing this post and here are a few takeaways to master your brand and business. Bloggers are included here, unless you plan on writing for free your entire life, you’re in the online entrepreneur/biz owner circle too.
1. Make it clear who you are:
Without the fluff:
This is where a lot of people struggle. I don’t mean who you are when your makeup and hair is done. I mean who are you really? Do you mix Cheez-its with your popcorn? Do you love Winnie The Pooh? Do you still roll around on the grass with your kids? Now relate those quirky things to your business and show your personality when you talk to your audience. One of my favorite podcasters, Lisa Nicole Bell, always mentions how she hasn’t jumped on the SnapChat band wagon and how she LOVES fruit snacks. It’s hilarious and it makes her a fun, relatable person to listen to.
With the fluff:
Okay your face is beat and you’re a networking event and have 30 seconds to tell the CEO beside you what you do and your background. Now who are you? This is usually your formal about section, aka your LinkedIn profile or a short elevator pitch on what you do.
Here’s are a few examples:
Latonya is an entrepreneur who’s purpose is to serve natural curly fashionistas with product reviews, descriptions and alternatives for pricey products on Youtube and on her blog.
Sarah is a fitness and wellness blogger whose target audience is busy female college students looking to be healthy and fit on a tight budget. Sarah posts worksheets on her blog and healthy recipes and workouts on her popular Pintrest page.
Behind the scenes, LaTonya has a dog named Comet because she’s always had an obsession with space and science. Comet's face is also apart of her logo and intro on Youtube. Latonya mentions her dog in her posts and her readers love reading about Comet’s recent adventures. Sarah and LaTonya live in the same neighborhood and Sarah collects cost efficient wines and invites Latonya over for tastings and pairings for her most popular recipes for those readers who have a $10 wine budget.
The dog, the wine, the traveling, Winnie The Pooh, it’s all apart of your brand.
2. Make it clear on what you do and how:
Before you start the branding process, it’s important to have a clear understanding of who you are AND what you have to offer. If you’re not there yet, you won’t be successful. This is also where your niche and your target audience come in- and they keep coming up because they’re important.
Niche- This is your “what.” What gets you going and what topic do you want to share? Whatever stems from your niche is what you have to offer.
Target Audience- These are the people watching and your “who.” Who do you want to share this amazing topic with?
Example- Jessica offers affordable recipes (niche) for new 20 and 30 something moms (target audience).
Here’s an example of why it's important:
When it becomes rocket science for your readers to figure out what you do and who you are, your brand needs some TLC.
One of my followers on Twitter who I’ve known for years throughout school has a very confusing brand. One day it seems like it’s delivering pizzas and the next he’s putting down floors and that’s exactly how his websites and social media look. I even asked him about his brand(s) and who his audience was and he told me everyone.
*Inserts emoji with the big eyes and red cheeks.*
It's impossible to serve everyone, you need to narrow your focus or else no one will know what you do and isn't that the whole point of having a strong online presence?
Here's where an ideal audience member profile comes in handy:
An ideal audience member profile is just a description that you write and follow based on the type of person you wish to reach. I'll use the Jessica example above. Since Jessica's target audience is new 20 and 30 something moms looking to make affordable meals and snacks for their families, she should be looking to reach a very specific woman. Let's say the woman she wants to reach has a name too: Cindy. Cindy has a three month old baby boy and recently moved to NYC. Not only does Cindy not have direct access to a grocery store, she also doesn't have the money or the time to prepare elaborate meals.
The exact type of person that Jessica wants to reach is a "Cindy." There are Cindy's all across the US who don't have the funds or resources to spend hundreds and hundreds at the grocery story each week but need to feed their family and not stuff McDonald's down their throats everyday.
When your narrow your target audience down to just one person, it seems like helping them becomes easier and creating content around them becomes more beneficial for all of the parties involved. You create more centralized content and you're automatically reaching your "Cindy's."
What is it that you do?
Going back to LaTonya and Sarah in the above example, the “with the fluff” example is more so what they do during their Mon-Fri and the "how." Will you offer your readers email challenges or worksheets? Can your email subscribers expect a package of your favorite products in their email every week? Do you specialize in affirmations and send out tweets every morning with a new set? What can we expect from you? What is your underlining promise to your readers? Mine for TBH is to always give bite-sized advice and resources on blogging, branding and online entrepreneurship.
Think about if McDonald's starting selling teriyaki chicken. Would that be on brand?
The visual branding piece is next in the Branding 102 post! Click here for part two.