BRANDING SERIES VOLUME IV
Today we're going to talk about some super practical elements of branding – developing what I like to call your branding tangibles.
So what are tangibles?
If I'm being honest, this is a term I coined for this series. I don't know if other branding consultants use this term or not (haha, yay for creating new words!!), regardless, here's what I mean by it.
Tangibles are basically any physical elements of your brand that you use to portray yourself to the watching world. Website, social media, business cards, logo, marketing materials, flyers, handouts, etc – all of these are tangibles. And while a website or your social media account may not be a literal physical item you can hold in your hand (like a business card), these are still external marketing elements that you could tangibly direct a potential client towards to give them a better sense of your brand.
TANGIBLES ARE EXTERNAL MARKETING TOOLS YOU USE TO PORTRAY YOUR BRAND.
I receive questions all the time from business owners asking about developing these tangibles so today I want to address a few of the major tangibles that brands usually look at developing and answer some very practical questions about if you need these tangibles for your specific brand and, if so, how you can utilize them.
SO, WHAT TANGIBLES DO YOU NEED?
Ultimately, this question goes back to the blog about Owning Your Lane. The parameters you lay on your brand will determine what social media accounts you should be active on, the level of website you need, what your logo will look like, and really drive the entire creation process for your marketing materials.
What I want to do in the following paragraphs is hit a few of the major tangibles and give you some practical advice on determining whether or not you need these tangibles and how you could utilize them for your brand. However, and please hear me, every brand is very different so if you really want to have a conversation about honing in your branding materials and developing your tangibles, I offer one-on-one consults for just those kind of questions – if that's of interest to you give me a shout and we can talk!
Alright...let's do this!!
One of the most frequent questions I receive is "Do I need a website?" And my answer is actually quite simple – if you're asking this question then yes, you probably need a website :) No matter what field you're in, a website is a powerful tool where you can direct potential customers – a digital business card that serves as the starting point for customers before they branch out to your accounts on other platforms.
And the best part? Your website can be distinctly personalized.
Unlike social media platforms and third party sites (like Pinterest/Etsy/etc) who force you to use their overall aesthetic, your website can look exactly the way you want it. Will your site direct people to your social media and other third party sites? DEFINITELY. But you need a place on the web to call your home – and a website fills that void perfectly.
So if you're a seller on Etsy – do you need a website? Absolutely. Your site will be the place where you showcase your "why", allow customers to get a good sense for who you are as a brand before migrating to Etsy to actually purchase your products.
If you're a photographer, videographer, designer, etc, do you need a website? Hands-down YES. You may pull a lot of clients leads from social media but your website will primarily be a place to showcase your portfolio and provide booking/pricing information as well as a good biography of you and your brand.
Those are only two examples but no matter who you are – you probably need a website. It doesn't have to be super complex but the power of having your own corner of the web, branded specifically for you, really can't be overestimated.
+ SOCIAL MEDIA
Once you have a website, the next thing you need to start thinking about is social media. While having a website is really a must because it serves as a hub where you can direct all current and future clients, the reality is that most people spend the majority of their time on social media. So if you truly want to succeed as a brand? You have to be on social media.
Here's the problem – there are countless social media platforms out there. How do you choose which platform to be present on (or do you try to have them all)??
Here's my advice – pick two platforms that best fit your client demographic and then own those two platforms. One may be your primary and that's okay, but be consistent on each...and let the other ones slide.
For me, I'm a photographer who loves telling stories so Instagram is an easy choice as my primary account. But the power of Facebook really can't be overstated and the majority of social media users have a Facebook account so I'm at least present and active there as well.
Find a platform that you can get on board with and fits your brand – and own it!
Should you have a logo? What should it look like? Where do you use it? How frequently should it appear in your branding? These are all great questions and I frequently have conversations with creatives about logo use – and here's my opinion.
HAVING A LOGO IS GREAT.
HAVING CONSISTENT BRANDING IS BETTER.
Here's why. The trend with brands right now is to spend hours slaving over exactly what the logo should look like and then slap that logo on everything the brand creates in the name of consistency. And while obviously brand recognition is crucial and a logo can totally help with that, I always push brands to think more holistically about the way they present themselves to the watching world.
Do you need a logo for your business? Absolutely not. You can do just fine without a logo and for years I operated my photography business without a formal logo. But once you've developed some consistent branding practices, once you have a quality website and a consistent visual aesthetic – then it's time to really hone in on your logo.
At the end of the day, your logo can only serve as a beacon for an already-consistent brand. Focus on branding and figuring out what message you want to communicate to your clients and then start work on building your logo.
If you already have one or once you've made one? Don't use it on everything! Apply your logo to the big things but let the rest of your brand speak for itself. My social media accounts, all the images I post, and all of my blogs are void of my logo. Why? Because people can recognize my work simply because I have consistent branding. My logo sits in the header of my website and at the end of every major marketing video – other than that, my branding says enough.
+ BUSINESS CARDS
Do you need business cards?
Short answer – definitely.
Yes, but don't try to communicate everything there is to know about you and your brand via a piece of paper that someone will probably end up throwing away.
For business cards, be simple.
My cards contain three pieces of information – my logo on the front and my website url and my email address on the back. And that's it. They don't tell people about my brand, they don't have a printed tagline...they don't communicate anything other than simply how to get in touch with me.
Because business cards are handed out personally – and if I'm handing someone my card that means I'm physically present to communicate all of those details. When you're handing out a business card, let your words communicate the majority of the information you want to portray. Tell people about what you do (and why!), explain why your brand is unique, and inspire them to learn more. Then when they request more information, hand them a card that directs them to your online hub (website!!) and contains a way to contact you directly.
And that's all you need.
Okay, one more thing. My cards are printed on ridiculously high quality, thick, matte paper. They're so nice, in fact, that I've had numerous people hand them back because they thought I was handing out some of my marketing materials. I use this as a marketing opportunity because I then tell them that my cards represent the essence of my brand. Relationship-driven (which is why I personally communicate most of the stereotypical business-card information), straightforward and stress-free (simple card design), with incredibly high quality results (top-end paper and ink).
My cards represent the essence of my brand and then point people to my website, which in turn pushes people to my social media channels...all of which is consistently built and then supported by a thoughtfully-designed logo.
And that does it for today!! Hopefully it's been helpful to think about the tangibles for your brand and, as always, if you have questions feel free to shoot me an email or leave me a comment and I'd be happy to help you out!
Also – coming this Friday we'll be talking about developing your brand voice – the unique signature that defines how you communicate to and are perceived by the watching world. Stay tuned...I'll see you Friday!