Business branding: Are you a Virgin?

by Peter Crocker

When it comes to your business branding, rather than trying to emulate others, it’s more revealing to look in the mirror.

It feels like every second marketing brief I’ve received over the last year or so is followed by the comment “…we want to sound a bit like Virgin and Nudie Juice.” Now, I’m all for the new, straight-talking business branding and language that is emerging across business big and small, but are you really a Virgin?

Large corporates have teams of people that sit down in business branding sessions and strategise over what sort of ‘person’ they will be this year. The problem is, that unless this personality and attitude is present all areas of the business, it just doesn’t work. It”s the same with small business branding.

We’ve all had experience of the bank, whose super-smiley, ‘we care about you’ advertisements become completely hollow after spending a few minutes in a real branch or on the phone. This is because what their marketers try and have you believe and the reality are simply poles apart.

That’s why for those of us with solo businesses, it’s not a good strategy to ‘decide’ on the tone of our marketing, or what sort of image we will portray in our website or brochures.

You need to look at your business (yourself) and ask what type of ‘person’ it is already. You can, of course, work on your image, but in many ways, this natural personality is already set for you.

Are you quietly confident and reliable, bold and excited like Big Kev or laid back and informal? Once you’ve worked this out, it’s a matter of letting this natural personality come across in your marketing language.

It’s not always trying too hard that is the problem. Sometimes behind the stiff, formal language in a proposal or on a website, you’ll find an energetic bunch of people who are fun and inspiring.

So how do you match your marketing with who you are as a business? There are a few little tricks that can help.

  • Simply try and capture the way you talk in what you write – record yourself talking on the phone or conducting a presentation to get a feel for it.
  • Read your marketing material and pretend that you’re sending it to someone you know well – see if you’re comfortable with the tone.
  • Examine individual words and phrases used in your marketing – if there are things you would not say naturally in a conversation, see if there are simpler alternatives.
  • An oldie but a goody is to describe your business as a car – are you a big strong Holden Commodore, a sexy little Mini Cooper, an ever-reliable Toyota Corolla or a slick and pricey Lotus Elise? All great cars, but all appealing to different markets.

Essentially, it’s about proudly being yourself, and projecting that sincere personality in all your communications – emails, letters, proposals, brochures, websites and, of course, in person.

Only then, can customers establish a real personal relationship with your business, and you. And, by being yourself, you’ll attract the customers who are compatible with your style.

So, who do you think you are?

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