The Biggest Realization You'll Have in Branding

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Like everyone, I have had my fair share of heartbreak and regret. I have found myself chasing the wrong people and ignoring the right ones. What my mistakes in love have taught me is: [Tweet "you can't be everything to everyone."] Some people just won't understand you, love you or even like you for who you are, even if you fit the preliminary criteria. The same lessons apply to branding. Just because a company has an opening, doesn't mean you're guaranteed a job because you match the job description. Just because a potential customer fits in your target audience and has a need for what you sell doesn't mean they will buy from you. Instead, you have to find your niche, the kinds of people that are responsive to your unique style and offerings, and work on building with them.

Be the best version of yourself, because the original is better than the copy. How many times have we heard some version of this saying? We hear it so much as we come of age and work through our personal battles to become the people that we want to be, but what about our brands? We hear all of the online marketing and branding gurus say it, “Be genuine,” “Find your unique voice,” etc. but I have found that few fail to listen. When you are developing a brand, your niche and target audience helps to shape your communication channels, tone and aesthetic. When you are developing a personal brand however, you need to find a niche and target audience that relates to you. I enjoy branding, pop culture and a ratchet tune here and there. My style and personality would not be a good fit for a 40 something year old mom who has no idea who Kendall Jenner is and what Drake is rapping about these days. We have to be okay with narrowing down our focus.  When you are developing a brand, your niche and target audience helps to shape your communication channels, tone and aesthetic.

The issue I have constantly found with online marketing is that everyone thinks that they can create some carbon copy of someone else’s success. WRONG! This is not possible. Each successful brand I know, like some of my favorites’: Marshawn Evans, Marie Forleo and Levo League, have their own unique approach to their brand and their business, but they are also very well aware of who their target audience is and who they are speaking to. They have their particular niche covered and there is no room for imitation. Learning about branding from others is acceptable and adopting online marketing best practices is common, but asking a copy editor to have the same tone as "so-and-so" or design your website like "company x" is a huge problem. Finding your voice is not the easiest of tasks, but it involves knowing your target audience and knowing how to best market yourself or your offerings. A big part of discovering your key audience and marketing yourself involves knowing who you are and what you add. What are you passionate about? Who do you want to help? Are you looking to target professionals, recruiters, potential employers etc.? You need to be able to clearly visualize what the people in your target audience look like, what they value and even what they do in their spare time. You have to be really specific. Use these details to help you shape and develop who your target audience is:

  • Gender and Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education
  • Problems and Challenges
  • Aspirations and Desires
  • Where and how they like to receive information
  • How you will reach them

These  are just some of the identifying characteristics that  will help shape how you communicate with your market. Carve out a niche that is uniquely yours by including as many details about your audience as possible. For example, although I am a personal branding expert, I focus more specifically on communicating your expertise online through social media. I also focus on entrepreneurial millennials who want to make an impact in the world. Once you know who you are talking to and what you want to say, you can shape your branding and conversation to be “you.” Whether you are a student, a business owner or a young professional, creating a branding strategy uniquely your own is important for your online marketing longevity.