Here’s the Cindy Ratzlaff quick branding MBA in a nutshell. You are a brand whether you’re a student looking for that first job out of school or an entrepreneur creating a product in your home office or an author about to publish your first book. You, the person, are a brand. When you understand that one simple truth, you can purposefully plan how to communicate your brand promise to the world.
The four V’s of branding are essential elements to consider when creating and communicating your brand.
Your voice is your message and your tone. Think about how you want your brand to be perceived and experienced. Create a short list of three words that clearly lay out your tone. Are you sharp, fast, and pointed? Are you or your product smooth, easy and effective? Will you make your customers life stress-free, unburdened and organized? Choose your words, try them on for size and make sure they convey your brand promise.
Now that you know your tone of voice, turn your attention to the look. Consumers have different learning styles. Some will immediately respond to your voice. Others will be swayed by your visual appeal. Match your imagery to your message to reinforce your brand promise. Remember that your brand promise begins with you, so invest in quality professional photography to put your best face forward in social media and on the web in general. When you meet clients, employers, or colleagues who have only known you on line, you want to hear, “I recognized you from your social media avatar,” not “Wow, you look so different from your picture.” A professional looking picture engenders confidence in your potential to solve a customer’s problem and that’s really what all brands do; solve a problem.
Make sure that you know the competitive landscape for your product or service in your arena. Design your offerings, your desired salary or your product price to reflect true market value. Understanding your potential customer’s most urgent needs will help you here. In social media implementation, for example, clients can be expected pay more for campaigns that are a rush and a more reasonable rate if they’ve planned ahead. Price your services based on time and experience needed, resources required and fair market value.
Your service or product variation is your point of differentiation. How do you or your product differ from every other product or service that is offered? Some points of differentiation might be affordability, location, education, experience, testimonials, first to market, or fame. Spend time creating your list of ways in which you and your product can answer this question from your potential customer. “Why should I buy this product or service from you instead of someone else?”
Using the Four V’s to plan your brand strategy will keep you focused, honest with yourself and help you identify your personal brand strengths.