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Capturing the attention of your dream customers ain’t easy these days, you have lots of competition. So the question is, what can you do to break through all the noise and create a brand that gets noticed?
#1 Create a visual identity that sets you apart
When building awareness, the first impression happens visually. People process visual information faster than any other form of communication, so if you want to stand out from the pack, that means your visuals need to stand out.
Most importantly your logo and the images you use and share on social media.
But this is the opposite of what most new business owners do. Most of the time, they follow industry norms:
- They use the same visual symbols in their logos
- They use same stock photos
- They use color palettes that are on-trend
“It works for these other people, so it will work for me.”
Here’s a secret: you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, and in fact, you shouldn’t.
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Ask any brand identity designer and they’ll tell you that the biggest frustration they have is that their clients tend to choose the safe designs rather than the best designs.Following design and industry trends is not the way to brand bravely and get noticed, that's the way to be forgettable and get lost in the noise: BLENDING IN with your competition rather than standing out.Click To Tweet
A strong visual identity starts with studying your competition to see what they’re doing and then creating an aesthetic that looks different from everything else you’re seeing. Like, if everyone in your niche is using corporate blue, consider not using corporate blue.
It seems simple and obvious, right? So why don’t more people approach it that way?
It’s because it can feel scary–it’s not human nature to want to stand out. But often, the very things we need to do to get visible can feel a little bit terrifying.
Here’s an example. When you think of pizza joints, you probably think of green, white, red (the colors of the Italian flag) and warm tones like yellow.
So imagine the courage it took for Dominos to not only use BLUE as one of their primary brand colors but to not use any symbols that represent pizza either.
You understand what Dominos is without needing to see cliche image devices and colors, but you probably never thought about the fact that they departed from the traditional approach in their branding (amirite?).
The first impression online is always visual, so make sure the graphics you're using to represent your business are attention-worthy. We don't always get a second chance to make a first impression.Click To Tweet
#2 Perfect Your Elevator Pitch Copy
The most important copy for getting people’s attention–the words you use that will determine whether they’ll contact, connect, follow, click through, and read on–are those tiny snippets of copy that a lot of business owners overlook.
Two places where you can make maximum impact: your homepage intro copy and your social media profile descriptions. Even though you’re not using very many words at all in these places, you should pay the MOST attention to this copy.
Assume you’ve got 5 seconds to make your pitch and use those 5 seconds to communicate what you do, for whom, and the benefit that they can expect if they work with you.
Ain’t nobody got time to read your whole life story before they even know if what you have to offer is relevant to them.
Hook them by letting them know right away what’s in it for them, then they’ll invest the time to learn more.
#3 Be vulnerable
The most boring, stale, completely forgettable brand messages out there are the ones that put on a false front and paint a picture as if everything is ideal and perfect.
Nobody pays attention to corporate robots who are mostly saying the same things that everybody else is saying.
Being vulnerable and sharing who you are with an open heart captures people’s attention. It’s what allows you to create real value and a personal connection with your audience.
I’m not suggesting you air your dirty laundry or tell your whole life story on the internet, but people aren’t just interested in your successes… they want to know where you’ve struggled, how you’ve overcome a challenge, or how you’ve learned from mistakes or failure.
We’re all struggling, we all have challenges, and we all make mistakes and fail… this is what it means to be a human.
On the internet, it’s hard to connect on a human level, and vulnerability is hard for most people. Stand out from the pack by getting comfortable with it and pulling back the curtains from time to time.
#4 Anchor Your Brand With An Adjective
The shortcut to becoming remembered is to show up in a way that’s consistent.
One of the easiest ways to do that is to pick an adjective your brand can “own” as if it were a human person and then anchor everything you do (your visual identity, your tone, your sales copy) with that adjective.
What do you want to be known for? What word describes you on your best day?
Maybe it’s one of these words… Passionate, empathetic, empowering, understanding, humorous, likable, lighthearted, daring, self-aware, confident, free-spirited, reliable, fun, quirky, grounded, down to earth. Or maybe it’s some other word…it’s YOUR word.
Speaking of quirky. Allison Marshall of Wonderlass “owns” the word “quirky” like nobody’s business. Her colors, fonts, photos, custom illustrations, words and turns of phrase all express quirkiness.
It’s remarkable, memorable, unique… but its not for everybody. And that’s… okay. She’s managed to build a gigantic tribe of people who get her (and she gets them).
This is a great example of a brave brand. But being brave doesn’t mean you need to use neon colors and illustrations of unicorns.
Take my friend and client Marta of Panacea Digital. In our work together creating her Client Attraction Playbook, I discovered that she’s introverted, a keen observer and listener, capable of solving incredibly complex business problems and seeing things from multiple angles.
She’s reserved, thinks before she speaks, and is highly intelligent, capable, reliable and lovely. Using quirky graphics and neon colors would paint a false picture and she doesn’t need to be anything other than who she is.
The problem was, she wasn’t shining a spotlight on any of those things, and that’s the problem for most of us: we can’t see our unique qualities that set us apart because we’re too close to them.
After our work was through, she put them front and center on her home page.
Not only was she able to articulate what she does, for whom, and the specific benefits they can expect… she was able to own the word “empathy” and communicate that she’s uniquely qualified to solve complex business problems because of that quality that’s unique to her (you don’t have to be unique in the whole wide world, just your tiny corner of it).
Stepping out of your comfort zone and branding bravely is about figuring out what makes you YOU on your very best day, and then having the courage to tell people about those things. Unapologetically and authentically.Click To Tweet
Marta went deep to discover her own superpowers and then told people about them. Bravo!
When you have an “anchor adjective,” it makes it easy for you to remember the brand experience you wish to create and the personality you want to convey. Then, you can communicate that in everything you do and everything your audience sees.
The Psychological Reason Why Brand Consistency Is So Important
#5 Have The Courage To Be Seen
The best way to get noticed is to get comfortable being yourself and having the courage to be seen.
Trying to be something you’re not or something you think people “expect” will only backfire and attract the wrong people to you.
Your greatest advantage is YOU, and you already are unique! The question is, are you willing to really let your freak flag fly so people can get to know the real you?
You won’t be for everybody. But you’ll be perfect for the people who matter. The more you can be YOU, the more “your people” will gravitate toward you.
Being yourself, different, standing out means that it’s going to sting a bit more when you’re rejected, unfollowed, unsubscribed, and for people to say “not for me… pass.”
That’s why my motto is brand bravely.
Because if rejection isn’t happening, it means you’re trying to appeal to everyone and in order to do that, you need to create Spaghettios… not a meal you drive 10 miles out of your way to eat and then tell all your friends about and most importantly: remember, and go back for again and again. (Sorry Spaghettios.)
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.