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business branding

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What to Do When Your Brand Isn't Really Taking Off (Business Branding)

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A usual side effect of using business branding is that the progress will be slower compared to personal branding. It's harder for your business to really take off and become popular with the public.

(Side note: Business branding is when your business is a whole separate brand from yourself. Like "Apple & Co" instead of "Ana Lewis".)

One, it takes time for people to warm up to your brand or ANY brand. You can speed up the process by being endorsed by influencers or celebrities or getting featured in magazines, but it will be slow at the start. This is normal because trust is something that can't be manufactured instantly. Earning the customers' trust requires time.

Two, people trust people more, not man-made entities. When the customer doesn't know who the owner of the brand is, they'd think that there's nothing stopping this unknown business from basically cheating them out of their money. The brand doesn't seem trustworthy or approachable when it's FACELESS.

 

Are you hiding behind your brand?

One of the reasons why I chose to create the Narrativity brand (instead of an Aina brand) is because I didn't want to be vulnerable. I really didn't like the idea of putting myself out there, so I thought I'd hide behind the Narrativity name and no one will know who I am.

But now after some months in business, I realized that HIDING MYSELF behind my business is really detrimental to earning my customers' trust.

It's fine to use business branding and create a brand that's totally separate from yourself. But choosing to HIDE behind your brand because you're scared? That comes with a cost.

So what I've been doing to make my brand more trustworthy and approachable is by HUMANIZING my brand.

 

You have to humanize your brand to make it more approachable.

You have to gain trust by humanizing your brand, or basically making it more PERSONAL. There's a few practical ways to do it:

  • Use your own name when you're interacting with your audience, behind the scenes or otherwise. There's a lot of power in your name. Your audience or customers will feel safe knowing that you won't screw them over, because your identity is already out there. In my newsletters, I always put 'Aina' as my signature so that people get to become familiar with my name.
  • Introduce your own face into your brand. Hear me out: I HATE having my photos taken. I'm just not camera-friendly. And for the longest time, I only used the Narrativity logo as my profile photo. BUT, BUUUUT, after starting to use a photo of my face as my profile photo, I've discovered that people are more willing to respond to me and buy my e-guide. The difference is really significant. A normal photo of your face (nothing fancy) that you can use as profile photo or post on social media will make people more inclined to trust you.
  • Surprise your customers with something thoughtful. Every week or whenever you can, do something unexpected for one of your customers, just to show that you care as the owner. It doesn't have to be big, it just has to be a complete surprise. A small bag of cookies, a mini sewing kit, a lovely comment on your customer's Instagram photo. You can be creative with what you give, but don't forget to sign it with your name.
 

The only person that can really make your brand take off is you. There needs to be a balance between your business brand and your own identity. You've got to inject a bit of yourself and your personality into your business for customers to see and trust.

In a way, I know it takes courage to actually put yourself out there for customers to see. But sometimes we gotta step a little bit out of our comfort zone to see results.

So it's okay. Take a few small steps. Focus on genuine connections. And I promise you, your brand will start to take off and you'll feel more confident than ever. :)

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Personal Branding vs. Business Branding.

 

You most likely belong to either one of these categories:

  1. You want your face and identity to be associated with your brand (or at least are comfortable with it).
  2. You don't want to be associated with your brand and prefer to remain behind the scenes.

I belong to the 2nd category. I'm the type that sets every social media profile to 'private', and naturally that extends to how I behave in my own brand.

It's important that you decide how you want to present your brand in the first few years. If you belong in the first category, then personal branding might be the route for you. If you're in the second category like me, it's likely that you will go for business branding. In fact, that's what I'm using for Narrativity & Co.

No type of branding is better than the other. Both has its own pros and cons. The branding you choose is entirely up to you, your circumstances, and personal preferences. 

As for the work involved, all principles on branding that we've discussed so far apply to both types. Branding is still branding, regardless of the face of the brand.

Today we'll just look briefly at both types as well as their pros and cons.

 

Personal branding

Nowadays, you don't need to be featured in talk shows or magazines to have a large audience. Personal branding is possible for ANYONE, as long as they're committed to creating that personal brand.

Basically, personal branding requires you to consistently share details of your life. Everything you do online (where people can see) becomes part of your personal branding.

You can spot personal brands by looking at the brand name (example: 'Lisa Smith') and the pronoun that the brand uses ('I').

It's also crucial that you're comfortable in front of the camera. With personal branding, you need to be out there, showing yourself and your personality for people to really connect with you.

Pros of personal branding:

  1. Once you have a large, loyal audience, your products will almost always sell well because they're crazy about you (and you've gained their trust).
  2. Personal branding has a quicker start compared to business branding because people instinctively connect to other people better. People are more relatable.
  3. The work involved to keep up the branding fits more naturally in your day because it's about you.

Cons of personal branding:

  1. Any attacks from people who don't like your brand will be personal and malicious.
  2. You can only start selling products based on personal branding after you have a substantial audience. Your name needs to mean something to people first.
  3. The pressure to keep up appearances or be 'perfect' online can be overwhelming.
 

Business branding

This type of branding requires you to establish a whole separate entity, complete with a new look and personality. You transact using the name of the business, rather than your own. And you're using the pronoun 'we'.

Because no person is associated with the brand, you'll be relying on the visual identity of the brand, e.g. logo and illustrations, more heavily to get noticed.

Pros of business branding:

  1. You'll be able to start selling products earlier (than personal branding) because it's expected for businesses to have products.
  2. It's easier to scale the business because you can delegate tasks to employees. They can be the representatives of your brand.
  3. When something goes wrong, people will be less inclined to blame you personally.

Cons of personal branding:

  1. You have to work double-time to gain the customers' trust because it's harder for them to trust a 'faceless' personality.
  2. The work involved requires more intention and planning compared to personal branding.
  3. How well your product sells depends on how accurate your market research is, unlike personal branding which has its own market it could tap into.
 

Whatever type you choose to start with, you will never be restricted to it for life. A lot of people begin with personal branding first, but the business brands they build end up being equally as good a few years down the road. 

Other people begin with business branding, but become well-known personally afterwards after the media starts talking about them.

The purpose of choosing the type of branding in the first place is to consolidate your resources into one single, streamlined brand, so that you can execute it very well.

And you could also take steps to minimize or neutralize the cons for personal and business branding, no matter which one you choose.

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