The term "branding" has been tossed around so much in recent years that while most of us recognize its importance, it can still at times be a hard concept to really get our arms around. Just what does it mean and how can we do it...and do it effectively?
A few years ago, one of the projects I was working on was for a client who was the pastor of a large church, as well as an author. Because of the church congregation, he had a built-in platform or audience for his books, and yet they weren't really selling. He also had his own radio program, which expanded his audience beyond his own congregation, but the books weren't getting much traction in that market or in bookstores either. So the author approached me for help to find a solution.
In looking at the big picture it was easy to see some gaps. Although the pastor was well recognized in some circles of influence, there had been no specific focus in creating a "brand" that made the church, his message or his name immediately recognizable. While you don't want to get pigeon-holed into speaking about only one topic, at the same time, you do want to position yourself as an "expert" in at least one area. That is the key. Branding is about positioning.
The author had one book that had sold at least a million copies and was still selling well. It was easily his best seller and yet there was nothing on his website, ministry materials, or in other books that relayed that message or success into any other area. He had made a connection to a large audience with that message. In essence, his bestselling book was a hook or foundation in which to begin to build a brand, if he knew what to do. He just wasn't utilizing it.
Where have you connected with people?
So not sure how to "brand" your website, ministry or yourself? The question you need to ask is this, "What do people think of when they think of you, your product, your message or your organization?" The next question is "What do you want them to think?" That is the foundation on which to begin to build your brand. Make it clear. Make it stand out. Find what it is that you bring to the table and then use that expertise as a focal point for your website, message or marketing materials.
(Note: A good book for ministries and non-profits regarding the importance of branding is: Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-Profits Impact Culture and Others Don't by Phil Cooke)
Get endorsements from clients and others who can validate your ability in this area. Then outline clearly how this "brand" can help others. Make it simple. Make it clear. Share why what you have is unique and needed. Too often businesses or ministries have too much going on with their websites. It is easy to get lost in the clutter. It's like going to the grocery store. Have you ever walked down the cereal aisle? It's overwhelming. Too many choices. It can be the same with your business.
(Another good article for insight is "7 Keys to Creating a Killer Brand" by Jim Price on Business Insider)
Help the individual who is coming to your website, your business (or ministry) or reading your book find you, know who you are, what you do and what you have to offer. Once you determine that, then you have a significant tool that becomes the "hub of your wheel" in which everything else is a spoke or branch coming from that branding message hub. Let everything build from there and be consistent. Your branding has begun.