What makes a good brand ad
You are your brand - stand out!
It was roughly six years ago when I ditched the heels and swore to only ever wear trainers again!
It was the moment I realised that founders can be walking embodiments of their business and the effect that can have on how people (read: potential customers) ‘feel’ about what we are building.
You see I had lost myself to the world of ‘corporate’ and found myself in a tube dress, blazer, too many pairs of Spanx and heels which gave me a bad back! I was dressing in a way, I thought meant I’d be taken seriously as a business woman. I mean, that was the subconscious narrative, but on the outside, I wanted to appear to be in control. My brand was ‘serious business woman’ and it didn’t cross my mind that there could be an alternative. I was morphing into the representation of the female business leaders we see on TV and it wasn’t my true self. Thank goodness I realised there was another, and far more, powerful way of dressing.
When you actually think about it, the way people look in business, does have an effect on us. If you are in a serious meeting, if someone came in with a t-shirt and joggers on, you would judge that maybe this meeting isn’t as important to them, as it is for you. If someone was pitching to win your investment and they walked in with ‘This Means The World To Me’ on the back of their jacket, you would remember that moment, maybe for the rest of your life.
‘I will only wear glitter trainers from now on. I will leave sparkles wherever I walk!’ This worked. It fit the soul of what we were building. It helped me form what this business was, because it was so right that as the leader I wore a new way of ‘doing business’.
Us small businesses are rather strapped for cash and so when it comes to our marketing pennies – they need to go far. Sure we can pop some spend into our Google wallet, we can place an ad in our local magazine or hire a PR to try and get press for our latest product launch. It’s not ‘always on’ as of course, the noise runs out as you go through your budget.
But (you can see where I’m going, can’t you!) you ARE always on! Aren’t you! So, you can be that beacon of your brand, 24 hrs a day and it is free-ish.
I believe that so much of ‘brand’ is made up of all the intangibles of a company. The way the business makes you feel, how it opens your eyes more, gives you something to talk about when you meet a friend, helps you learn, inspires you etc. So much of brand recognition can be the quieter elements of your brand and so what you wear, how you come across might feel small, but believe me – it is slowly and steadily increasing your brand recognition.
When you walk down the street, into a meeting or into a community gathering, you have an opportunity for people to recognise you. Now the question is, what do you want them to see? How do you want them to recall you and how can that lead to them looking up your business? I know this is all sounding as if I am promoting walking down the local highstreet to the butchers wearing a human billboard. I’m not, promise! But let me tell you a little about my journey in becoming my brand.
Firstly ‘becoming’ your brand takes a real mental shift and definitely you need to find confidence in order to feel comfortable to stand out from the crowd. That was my first stumbling block. I didn’t want to necessarily fit in, but one has to remember I’d come from the mindset of looking and feeling like a ‘business woman’ and so the thought for instance, of colour, worried me.
But as we started to carve up what Holly & Co was; that we were going to bring ‘colour to the world of grey’ and if ‘grey’ was business today and our brand was ‘colour’ then it didn’t feel right to turn up to an external meeting in my Jaeger pinstripe jumpsuit. So, I started to fish out what was colourful in my wardrobe, went on some shopping sprees with my co founder sisters and they pushed me to buy all things glittery, sparkly things and anything that packed a punch with colour.
It was at that point we declared I was not going to wear heels ever again. ‘Perfect!’ I said, ‘I will only wear glitter trainers from now on. I will leave sparkles wherever I walk!’ This worked. It fit the soul of what we were building. It helped me form what this business was, because it was so right that as the leader I wore a new way of ‘doing business’.
I firmly believe that founders are the future of business, along with community and so by becoming your brand, you are making yourself into a personality for people to see and recognise, against the faceless corporations or worse the wardrobe on The Apprentice! You started your business to be YOU and so it is time to show everyone what that means.
On a side note, when you meet people, rather than talking about the weather, they potentially will pick up on something you are wearing that has caught their eye. This becomes a wonderful ice breaker and allows you to jump in and talk about your business. I know when I have visited networking sort of events in the past and I wear my ‘Shop Small’ trainers or my ‘Independent Woman’ coat (these are things I have made – pimped so to speak!) everyone wants to know more and it brings a smile to their face. It allows us to chat about what I am building.
When you think that there are 7.7 billion people on the planet, how can you stand out, should be our No 1 question and normally that leads to only usual marketing chat. I’m here telling you a story of a journey I took with ‘wearing my brand’ and the positive effects it has had. It has helped people describe me, maybe talk about my traits. Hopefully it has made them smile, think positively about myself and the business and then linked them to either my social media or has pushed them to look me up. If I wear my green ‘Vote With Your Money’ blazer it might cause positive conversation amongst people. You see, the humble glitter trainer so to speak, has become great marketing and good for the bottom line. It makes great business sense. Now I am not saying that your next shopping spree can be put on expenses, but that is up to you! Give people a FAVOURABLE thing to remember you by!
‘When you walk down the street, into a meeting or into a community gathering, you have an opportunity for people to recognise you. Now the question is, what do you want them to see? How do you want them to recall you and how can that lead to them looking up your business?’
And of course, speaking about social media, if everything we do could be content – wearing your brand gives you a unique way to tell your story.
It’s time to wear your personality, your brand, on your sleeve, on your chest, on your head!
How are you going to show the world who you are?
Lessons in business and branding
I spoke to Sir John Hegarty, the first ever person to be knighted for his services to the advertising and creative industries, in my podcast and have distilled his amazing insights for everyone to learn from.