This is the 2nd post in a blog series on creating a recognizable brand that people actually remember and want to be a part of. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, click on over and check it out before reading this post. And don't forget to check out Part 3 for more tips on making your brand stand out from the crowd.
If you’re part of this weird, wonderful world of online content creation, you've probably looked at the (literally) millions of blogs, social media accounts and YouTube channels, and thought to yourself, “How the hell am I supposed to stand out?”
I feel ya. I say a version of that to myself just about every day.
Some people do it. They manage to stand out. Their brands somehow rise above the online noise and grab your attention. You notice them. You remember them. And chances are, you’re more likely to click on their stuff next time.
So how do they do it?
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about how brand consistency on your website creates a memorable user experience for visitors. But a strong brand doesn’t just exist on its own site-- it’s memorable everywhere it goes. Here are some ways to make your brand stand out, all across that world-wide web.
1. Create a consistent impression
If you’ve spent any time on social media, you know: there is a lot of noise. Trying to get noticed by your audience can feel at best overwhelming, and at worst, a complete waste of time. But it is possible. How?
You’ve probably heard the numbers before: most sales take 6-8 “touches” with a potential customer. So if we translate that into online content creation, it’s not exactly reasonable to expect someone to click over to your content on the first impression.
That’s why creating consistent branding across the internet is crucial. Knowing you’ll probably need multiple touch points with your audience before they’ll take their precious time seeing what you have to offer, those touch points have to feel coherent for them to realize that you’re the same person or business each time.
So let’s talk about how to make a consistent impression.
Profile picture or social media icon
I hate to sound superficial, but let’s be honest: people do judge a book by its cover. And your “cover” online? That's your profile picture or social media icon.
I’ve written before about why you need professional head shots and design, but let me just reiterate that: if you're promoting your business with social media or content sharing sites, your profile picture should be in line with your brand. Whether you’re the face of your business, or you use your logo or another social media icon, your profile picture is the first thing people see when they “meet” you online.
It’s their first impression of your brand. And, as you well know, first impressions matter.
So, assuming you have a professional, branded profile picture (i.e., NOT a picture of your dog or baby or group of friends), use the same profile picture across the web. I know that feels boring, but hear me out.
While you might have two or three head shots you love and it feels like a waste not to use them, variety will confuse your audience. They see so many faces and logos online that they simply don’t have the time or bandwidth to realize that you with long curly hair and a red shirt is the same person as you with your hair up, glasses and a blue shirt.
Help them recognize and remember your brand by keeping it consistent (or very close to it) on every single online channel you use.
Since you’ve caught their eye with your consistent imagery for social media, email, bios for guest blogs, content sharing sites, etc., your audience is now ready to click on your profile to see what you’re all about. And what do they see when they do?
If you said anything other than “a well-written description of who I am, what I do and who I’m for”, then welcome to the blog, because you’re obviously new here.
Because remember, people are busy. They simply don’t have time to care about anything they don't immediately understand and relate to. If you’re promoting your business online, you should be using every opportunity to remind people why they should care about you.
Now, each website or social media channel has it’s own etiquette and restrictions when it comes to your profile description, but try to keep it as consistent as possible. There should be no question in anyone’s mind whether you’re the same person or brand on social media that they see on your site.
Profile name/ handle
This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve looked for someone on Instagram based on their name or business name, and I can’t find them because their handle is something else entirely.
You want potential clients to be able to find you, so use the same name across all social media channels. It’s best if you can make your name something easy to remember and type, while also being searchable by your business name and real name.
For example, FavortheBoldCommunications is a little too long, so I wanted to use FavortheBold. That was taken, so I chose ftBold as the profile name for all of my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And because I know people won’t necessarily search for me using ftBold, I’ve made my “name” (i.e., where you’d normally put your full name) "Elissa ¦ Favor the Bold Communications", so people can find me by searching my first name or company.
Again, the name of the game is consistency, so make it easy for people to find and recognize you by keeping your social media handles consistent.
2. Share consistent content
Now that your profiles are consistent across all channels, let’s get into how you use those profiles.
Chances are, you use social media and content sharing sites to get your name out there, promote your business and create a sense of community around your brand.
Or at least I hope you do. If you’re using your business pages on social media to share puppy videos and political rants, I’m not sure I can help you.
Subject of content
Like the content on your website, the content you share on other sites should help people know, like and trust you. You should be using those channels to establish yourself as an expert in your field while also showing your audience the human behind the brand.
Listen, I’m not a social media expert. I’m not here to tell you what platform you should be on and what you should be posting on each. But even I know that the end goal of using social media for your business is to eventually turn your audience into buyers and/or advocates for your brand.
So your content-- whether original or curated-- should help you do that.
That doesn’t mean you should only share business-related posts on social media (says the girl who once posted a Prince gif on her Facebook page.) But what it DOES mean is that whatever you post should be:
- Useful, informative or entertaining for your target audience
- Appropriate for the platform
- In line with your brand and business
So if you’re a relationship coach, you shouldn’t be using your business Pinterest page to post healthy recipes or DIY decorating hacks. If your target audience is new entrepreneurs, stop sharing articles on Facebook about how to increase employee engagement in big companies. If you have a business Instagram page for your design company, you should probably stop posting daily selfies with your new boyfriend.
Actually, even if you don’t have a business page, you should probably stop with those daily selfies...
“Oh god,” you’re saying. “Here she goes again with this brand voice BS.” Yep, and I’m going to keep talking about it until I stop seeing so many schizophrenic brands that have no idea who they’re for.
And before you think I’m just being judgey, let me tell you: I’m guilty of this too.
I too read those lovely, heartfelt Instagram captions that are all gratitude and prayer hands and heart emojis, and think, “Awww, that’s so inspiring. My captions should be more like that.”
And then I remember that prayer hands and #blessed hashtags make my eyes roll faster than the little girl in the Exorcist.
Not a good look.
What I’m saying here is that even on social media and guest blog posts, remember your brand voice. Make sure that your posts sound like you. The last thing you want is to attract someone by being one way on social media only to repel them as soon as they get to your site and realize you’re not the person they thought you were.
Keep it real, and keep it consistent.
3. Remember your personal profile
Ok, you’re probably not going to like this, but here it goes: people will judge your business by your personal profile.
Why it matters
Just hear me out. If you’re like most solopreneurs, you probably use social media to drive traffic to your site. You join Facebook groups and follow leaders in your space on Twitter and share your content on Pinterest or Instagram.
And if you’re doing that, chances are, potential customers are checking out your personal profile. Even if your personal profile is private, they can still see certain things: your profile picture, your profile description, sometimes where you work (if you’ve put that on Facebook.)
And they’ll judge you professionally based on what they see.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Say you join a Facebook group (which you can only do using your personal profile) and you give someone super valuable advice. They’ll appreciate your help and will naturally want to know more about you, so they’ll click on your personal profile to see who you are and what you do.
And what do they see?
If you ask me, they should see a picture of you that gives them a good (and favorable) idea of who you are, and if you have a professional Facebook page, they should also see that so they can learn more about what you do professionally.
If instead they see a picture of your kid and a job you haven’t worked at in years? That’s a missed opportunity.
I’m not saying you need to make your personal profile public or use it to promote your business, but if you have a professional presence online, just keep in mind that your personal presence could affect it.
Blending work & life
Because let’s face it, when you’re a solopreneur creating a business and brand in line with who you are as a person, work and life start to blend together.
Doing what you love for a living means that the lines between professional and private are blurred.
That’s especially true if you’re the face of your business. People hire you because they feel like they know you. They like you. They trust you. That sense of personal connection is what gets people to listen to what you have to say. It’s what pushes them to buy what you’re offering.
It’s what helps your business stand out.
Because without it, you’re just another business. Another bland brand. Another forgettable voice lost in the noise.
So while you don’t need to share everything (please, dear god, don’t share everything), your potential clients are humans who wanted to feel connected to something.
And if they can’t connect to you, someone they can connect to is only a click away.