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Should I Represent My Brand Or My Voice?

Mark Masters

 

One of the biggest shifts this year has been the move to sharing my voice with my audience as opposed to wholly being industry related.

It’s a difficult question to ask when weighing up a route to venture that is more personal or one that represents the industry you are part of.

Last week, I attended a conference and was introduced by someone I knew to another business owner, who I wasn’t familiar with, or so I thought. When he introduced himself, it was the polite handshake, but still no recollection of who he was. As soon as he mentioned his business, I instantly made that connection and was familiar. What was the barrier, I believe, was the fact that his logo represented who he was on the social platforms that we are connected. As far as I was concerned I was familiar with a logo and not a person. This stuck a chord by thinking that I would have made a better introduction with someone I could associate with as opposed to a smart looking font and related icon.

My Brand Or My Voice?

People prefer to work with people, not logos. Whilst my background is very much within the branding landscape and we can fall off our seats in the knowledge that the BP rebrand cost $211 million in 2008, this is in a different stratosphere to one where the likes of People Per Hour can now help create a brand identity for minimal cost. I think that too many small businesses become focused on the identity they have created as opposed to letting their voice represent who they are.

Looking back at the blog articles during 2012 these were fit for purpose for a brand that was looking to be industry relevant. The ’10 reasons not to…’ and ’13 ways to be…’ didn’t really have it’s own identity and was merely boxed in with the rest of the companies competing within the same space. What I’m now aiming to do is to make a more distinct connection with other people who can relate to what I write and empathise with the experiences I have had. I now understand that this isn’t just about writing for one person sitting behind a screen ready to buy a ‘unit’ of what I deliver. This is about other people wanting to be part of my space and ready to make a connection, as opposed to being lured into an immediate sale.

To the question of should a B2B small business represent a brand or a person? I think I’m getting clearer at defining what it should be. What you need to concentrate on is to build who you are as a person that speaks for your brand.

When your voice becomes recognisable, you are able to make an emotional connection, rather than a pure rational association (that is invariably product related), this is then scaled to who we are. This can be then mixed with humour, facts and not coming across as the next-door neighbour who keeps the football when it’s kicked over the fence. If we can impart: the mistakes we have made, the lessons we’ve learnt and the frustrations we have, this transcends any association you are looking to make with a foiled logo on an expensive looking business card.

Somehow I don’t think this chap agrees with me though. He has embossing, die cutting the works and clearly not an ambassador for Vistaprint:

The CV Of Your Life

Everything that you now share within the social spaces that you are part of is effectively a CV of your life. It becomes far more interesting to read a digest of a person, rather than your company logo.

The technological revolution we are within has ensured reach to be on a much more personal level that can assist the purchase decision. The media that we choose enables us to build rapport or break it. We only have to look back at last Saturday’s massive Twitter failure for fashion retailer Joy (and their comments on bipolar disorder), to understand that their brand is now impaired.

The days of personal association being with celebrities has now moved to business owners who are becoming recognised as trusted figures.

A Brand That Represents A Voice

Jim Cregan of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee has done exactly this by creating a brand identity for what he stands for and what he believes in. The whole ethos was built around his frustration at drinking sickly iced coffee, in the UK, after his travels in Australia. I interviewed Jim at the recent Once Upon A Time event in Bournemouth and whilst coming across as a very affable person, the whole persona for the brand was built around not compromising and a personal association on fun, approachability and not taking the world too seriously. Jim has built brand equity and is in abundance throughout the various social spaces, website and video content. He has become a personality in his own right. I can say this because at the end of the event, it was people from the audience who wanted their selfie with him. Something I haven’t seen before, just shows the spark that Jimmy has.

Starting To Round Off

Coming back to my introduction at the conference at the top of the article, it made me realise that to build a lasting impression it needs to be with a ‘who’ and not a ‘what.’ It is the ‘who’ that provides the opportunity to build authenticity and connectivity on a personal level. The ‘what’ helps to build association an industry level.

I now recognise that I want people to stop by for the ‘who’ and not the ‘what.’ I want people to make an association with me and that I speak for what my brand represents. It has nothing to do with dictating content that tells people how to focus their market efforts, but to share the experiences I’ve had and for others to take from and hopefully consider.

It’s not easy to find your voice, but when you can start to look at the world a bit differently and follow a path that isn’t well worn by many others you can carve your own space. If what you are doing is consistent and doesn’t loose momentum, you have every right to build an audience who stand by you.

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