Branding Mistakes: Confusion

Written by Linsey Reimer

I'm the owner of Bright Creative, where I help entrepreneurs and small businesses create strategic and scroll-stopping brand identities and websites. I'm also a massive book nerd, cat lover, super slow knitter, and wannabe beekeeper.

January 31, 2018

Without question, the biggest battle my clients face is with invisibility, and for good reason. If your desired audience can’t see you, they can’t learn what you think or connect to your ideas. You can’t capture their imagination, prove that you can help them, and most importantly for business survival, be able to sell them any of your products or services.

Now it’s easy to think invisibility can be defeated with some investment in marketing. Marketing is obviously important. But I’m not talking about invisibility due to a lack of marketing.

I’m talking about invisibility due to a lack of brand.

When it comes to branding, invisibility’s biggest weapons are confusion and boredom and brands that want to stand out, have to learn how to combat both.

Battling Confusion

Brands are invisible when they leave the audience confused. Humans don’t want to have to think too hard about virtually anything, so we are definitely not going to start with your brand. If we can’t quickly figure out what you do and how it will help us, we’ll click on by. But confusion is an insidious bastard, and can’t be defeated just by a good one-liner in your hero image. You need to communicate clearly in all aspects of your business.

Solve the real problem

One of the first questions your perfect person is asking is, “Can you solve my problem?” This seems obvious but first you need to make sure you know what the problem is. One of the mistakes I see entrepreneurs making is assuming that someone is looking for their product. I promise you, that’s not happening. No one cares about what you sell. They truly don’t. They care if it solves their pain. So you don’t sell a vacuum cleaner, you sell an effortlessly clean house. You don’t sell coaching, you sell a path to doubling revenue. If you’re not sure what pain you solve, ask yourself what someone might Google in reference to your business.

Build trust

People are cautious, and with good reason. The barriers to online business are shockingly low and anyone can throw up a website and claim to know exactly what you need to do to be an overnight success. The cult of personality is strong online and just because someone is a good marketer does not necessarily mean they run a good business.

There are two ways to prove you can accomplish what you say you can. The first is to talk about your own experience. If you teach people to lose weight and you’ve had your own journey of losing weight, this is something to share in your about page. If you have a unique background or uncommon training that really informs your products and services, this is something you might talk about in blog posts. If you produce a tangible product, like photography or writing, you likely have a portfolio.

The second, and arguably stronger source of proof, is to have other people speak for you. This is where testimonials, case studies and results statistics come in. The vast majority of humans are not early adopters, so most people are much more comfortable opening their wallets once they see that your service worked for someone else. We also have an over-riding sense of FOMO and no one wants to miss working with someone who is clearly helping dozens of their competitors.

Be consistent

Solving your audience’s problem only works if you do it in a way that fits their values. Humans only ever make decisions emotionally so it’s important to weave your values into all aspects of your brand.

One of my favourite sayings is, “branding is show don’t tell.” In my business, I am forever talking about the importance of strategy in building a brand. This is why I don’t offer stand-alone logo design. Doing so would completely undermine everything else I’ve said I believe.

Make sure that your offerings support the problems you say you solve. If you are suddenly going to offer something that seems disconnected, make sure you can clearly draw a line between the different pieces.

Provide a map

When it comes to your business, your audience wants you to tell them what to do. What happens once they’ve read your blog post? If you don’t tell them, they will click away and likely forget about you. If you want them to download your e-book, you need to tell them. If you want people to “buy now” you need to include that button.

The examples above seem obvious but there are many places where your brand can continue to provide a map to your audience, to help draw them deeper into your story. An often forgotten example is a 404 page. Don’t leave your people in a dead end, build a custom 404 page and provide links to other places on your site that could potentially solve their problem.

Another place is thank you pages. Once a potential customer has downloaded an e-book, do you have a page that not only thanks them for downloading, but also shares the next thing that might interest them?

Provide your audience a map so they can get to know your brand without having to work.

Ask for help

Entrepreneurs have zillions of things to do every day. A Google search for “planners” turns up over 96 million results. Trying to “do it all” is a big business but putting that in practice can be overwhelming. If you’re having difficulty battling confusion, it might be time to call in a brand strategist. If you want to talk to me about any struggles with your brand, book a free chat and let’s see if I can help.

Next week: Part 2: Battling Boredom.

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