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Overthinking Your Branding

Branding is more important than ever in times of uncertainty. Making a real connection is vital so that when people spend their hard-earned dollars somewhere, you’re their first choice. But not all advice about branding is clear – even when it’s from savvy, trustworthy marketers. Some advice can lead to overthinking that will work against your goals.

What exactly does this mean?

Well, let’s first start off with a definition of branding. This is one area where the dictionary definition does NOT match up with the industry definition. The dictionary says that branding is:

“The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

Yeah, no.

Branding is not just creating your name, logo, font style, and color palette. Branding is deeper than that. It is the core essence of your business. What does your business stand for? Why are you in business in the first place? What problem does your business solve for your customers and why should they care? What is your heart?

Branding is defining your heart.

Knowing that, it becomes more obvious why branding is so important when times are tough. If you mean something beyond just your product/service, you’ll win customer loyalty that will carry you through difficulties.

So how can you overthink your branding?

You can overthink it by focusing on “promoting your brand.”

I saw a poll today that asked marketers what their main goal was in content marketing. The top two responses were “Connecting with ideal customers” and “Increasing brand awareness.” At first my gut reaction was, “You definitely want to connect, not just make people aware of your brand.” But then, I thought, “Well, if you’re branding properly, these two are the same thing.”

Brand awareness should connect you with your ideal customers because your branding should be highlighting the reasons why you connect with them. Not in a showboat-y kind of way – but in a genuine way. A “I truly want to help and I thought this content could do that,” kind of way.

Too often, when brands are planning what materials they need – collateral, website content, social media, etc. – the content calendar is defined by what you’re doing: what sales do you have going on? What products/services are you trying to sell right now? What ideas are important to you? How are we going to make people more aware of our brand?

When you’re doing content marketing, your schedule SHOULD be created by thinking about what problems your customer might be facing and those solutions. What product/service would our customer need right now (whether it’s ours or not, whether they might realize they need it or not)? What are our customers talking about online right now? What is motivating and/or troubling them in general? How does our brand align with those thoughts? What solutions might they not be aware of?

Your content posts should have a minimum of a tangential connection to the business you offer, but 80% of what you’re posting should not be about selling your offerings. It should be helpful information and advice, building trust in the free stuff, so that when they have to pay for something, they think of all the help you’ve provided before.

Pushing your brand out there, telling your story, focusing on YOU is the perfect way to turn customers OFF.

That may seem counterintuitive, but it’s not when you remember one thing: You don’t define your heart by selling it. You define your heart by ACTING on it. By building relationships. By being there for your customers, solving needs they may not even know they have yet.

If your branding activities are focused on you, they’re not branding materials. They’re sales specs. Sales specs are important, but they aren’t branding. (Although they should be branded by including the feel of your brand character.) Every branding piece, every topic you post about should be created by thinking like the customer and focusing on their needs and concerns.

When you are constantly thinking about your customer, there’s no possibility of overthinking. And when you’re constantly thinking about your customers, your customers will in turn think about you.

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