What’s your “thing?”
Your little quirks. The little things that make you, you.
Everybody has one. Or two, or a dozen. (Some people are pretty quirky.)
But those quirks? They’re one of the most important parts of your brand. Someone else may choose similar brand colors. Or work in the same niche. But no one else has the same combination of quirks.
They’re the one true part of your brand that’s unlike any other, and also happen to be the most humanizing aspect. So why are they thrown onto the back burner so quickly when it comes to strategy?
These three brand components may not be immediately noticeable on someone’s first visit to your site, much like your tagline or logo is, but they’re the real way to stand out. So start paying attention.
1. Your history
Your experiences made you who you are today. Yeah, the future’s what matters, but that’s shaped by the past. All those contemplative voiceovers at the end of teen movies about not being defined by the past are wrong… kind of.
The past does matter, but you can control how it defines you when it comes to your brand.
How do you describe your history? On your about page, when you’re pitching new clients or partners -- what do you say?
Why’s your story unique? Maybe your most successful business tactic is something the rest of your industry considers a joke (AltaVista SEO?). Maybe you have a unique hobby or anecdote you can talk about.
Work it into your elevator pitch. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be related to business. Wouldn’t you remember if someone you met in a Twitter chat is currently sailing around the world? The goal here is to be recognized and remembered.
2. Your words
Everyone has their favorite words. I went through such an ‘awesomesauce’ phase a year ago. It was all over my content without me even realizing it. It seeped into my brand.
My brand copy is also super conversational, sarcastic, and riddled with pop culture references and “dad jokes”, because that’s just how I talk. And I’m myself in my copy, so those quirks show up to the party.
Maybe it’s a stylistic thing: asking rhetorical questions; using in-depth descriptions; or Joanna Wiebe and her stance on cursing (which I love).
Or perhaps it’s specific words. Think Joey Tribbiani and “how you doin?” Or having a phrase you end every post and email with. (Like Elizabeth Gilbert and “Onward”.)
It’s not an official tagline. Think of it as your brand vocabulary: it’s something people can expect to come out of your mouth (or keyboard).
Once you’ve identified it, run with it. Make sure to include the words, phrase, or style all over, especially where it’ll get noticed most: your homepage, email opt-ins, and slogans.
3. Your interests
One Woman Shop member Jessica Lawlor recently asked “what makes your eyes light up?”
Think about your biggest passions, where you’re excited and happy and ambitious. That stuff needs to be part of your brand. Seriously, good luck finding staying power without it.
“Think about your passions - that stuff needs to be incorporated into your brand.”
Why? Because when you’re running your own business, it’s so important that it’s filled with as much excitement, happiness, and ambition as possible, so that you can sustain the hard work.
So take what you love outside your biz and learn how to incorporate it. For Jess, that’s yoga. It’s part of her brand. For me, it’s comedy and television. Countless references are in the copy I use to represent my business. Sometimes, entire posts are dedicated to it.
It may seem frivolous, but it builds a connection between you and your audience. Just last week, a blog reader sent me a message asking for book and movie recommendations for her weekend. That’s one touchpoint I wouldn’t have had with her if I’d kept things strictly business.
You want to present yourself authentically, and that means getting personal and sharing non-business parts of your life.
What’s one thing all of the above opportunities have in common? They’re not traditional things you think of when it comes to branding your website, or your business cards, or your products.
That’s because they’re ways to brand yourself. Because your business is more than your marketing assets. For a solo biz, your business is literally you.
Tell me: what’s a quirk, a word, or a passion you can incorporate into your brand to connect with your audience?
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I’m 27 and I pretty much only watch 1930s movies (that’s enough of a quirk I think)… I lived in Egypt and studied archaeology + ancient mediterranean religion. Now I’m a knitwear designer in NYC obsessed with style. Go figure. The hardest part is choosing one of many quirks to focus on 😉
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