Stop Blending In And Start Standing Apart
Kri Gentile Monday, May 7, 2018
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The world is your stage.
What will you say?
Imagine you’re getting ready for a big event. We’re talking the-whole-world-is-watching big.
And at this event, you’ll be on stage, presenting a topic you know best.
What will you say?
Will you be funny, or stick to serious?
What will you wear?
Smart? Casual? Smart casual?
How will you keep people from unlocking their phones and drifting off?
These are all questions you’d need to ask yourself. And know the answers to.
The reality is, presenting your business online is no different. The internet is your stage and your online presence is how you present yourself to the world.
No one’s watching you. Yet.
Unfortunately, the whole world isn’t eagerly waiting to see what you’ll say or do. They’re too busy doing their own thing.
You need to splash water in their face, grab them by the shoulders and say, “LOOK AT ME!”
Gone are the days when you could piece together a quick logo, slap it on a basic webpage and call it a day.
That, my friends, is what we call “internet wallpaper.”
In order to stand out, gain brand recognition, and leave a lasting impression, you need a signature brand presence that embodies your values, personality, and style.
You could try your luck with an “affordable” freelancing website, and piece together your creative $5 at a time. Or you could hire that friend who’s currently studying graphic design.
The thing is, you don’t get a second chance at making a first impression.
Take the time (and make the investment) to give your brand the attention it deserves. Make it attractive to those who will take the time to look at it. You can’t afford not to.
Here are 7 Simple Steps to Create an Online Presence that Will Attract Perfect Customers, Allow you to Breakfree From Competition and Make your Brand Stand Apart
1. Feed their Needs
Remember, you’re human. And so are your customers.
All relationships have one thing in common - an emotional connection.
When you’re selling yourself or your business to the world, you have to find others who relate to your beliefs, values, vision and mission on a deeper level.
Nobody responds to generic sales pitches. We all want to feel like we’re understood and we’re speaking to a human.
The most effective way to connect with others is on an emotional level.
Understand your ideal customers inside and out, and give them what they need.
The more you do, the better you’ll be able to connect with them, and the more quality customers you’ll attract.
Once you understand your customers’ hopes, fears and dreams, you’ll need to help them break their old beliefs, and show them a better way. Yours.
2. Reflect Your Personality
The second way to stand apart online is to make yourself genuinely relatable.
You want to determine what the marketing world calls, your “Attractive Character.”
This is your brand persona that your audience will find attractive and want to follow.
This is where you embed personality into your brand assets.
There are 3 Personality Pillars that need to be determined for you to develop a powerful, attractive character in a way that relates to your ideal customers.
You must be aware of your 3 Personality Pillars:
Your brand personality should intentionally become a part of everything that your business produces - your logo, website, social media, online presence, digital advertising and everything the customer encounters.
It’s how people will remember you and identify with your brand.
The best “Attractive Characters” create a sense of culture that buyers want to associate with.
If two companies sell essentially the same thing, what makes them different?
Their “Attractive Character.”
Here’s an example using two different shoe companies.
- Company A’s purpose is to provide women with business casual footwear,
while Company B’s purpose is to provide women with high fashion stilettos.
- Company A’s perspective is to solve the pain women feel from walking in heels,
while Company B’s perspective is to design the most photogenic, beautiful shoes.
- Company A’s principles are based around looking good, but feeling better,
while Company B’s principles are based around designer, avant-garde fashion and art.
Customers will buy into the culture around your brand. They’ll associate with your products, and may even become more like the personality you create.
Almost every major brand has an “Attractive Character.”
Progressive Insurance has “Flow” who depicts a lifestyle that is easy, vibrant and smart.
Geico has the gecko who can thrive in any environment, as long as he has good company - he depicts a lifestyle that is full of savings and simplicity.
Starbucks has their elite, exclusive, classic, iconic attributes.
Dunkin Donuts has its neighborhood, friendly, welcoming attributes.
Your brand needs a personality to which your audience can relate.
If you’re stuck wondering how to create yours, ask yourself, how do I want my brand to be remembered?
Write down each characteristic and start building your attractive character.
3. Create an Intentional Visual Brand Identity
At Kriativ Co., our FAVORITE way to stand apart online is through brand identity.
One of the first steps to success begins with your logo, color scheme, font selections and imagery.
Most people underestimate what it takes to do this well. But there’s a reason professional designers know how to craft polished, professional looking brands; they are creatively skilled and went through years of training and learning.
Once you know your target audience, and your “Attractive Character,” I’d suggest leaving it up to a professional designer to build a unique brand identity that represents your business with pride, honor and a well-defined purpose.
Craft an Iconic Logo
A logo is one of the most powerful brand assets you could have.
A good logo for a strong brand will immediately spark a train of thoughts in the viewers mind.
Just think of a white swoosh. An apple with a bite out. Or a giant yellow M. You don’t need me to tell you which brands they belong to.
A logo is often a company’s first impression, one that can impact a customer’s brand perception, purchase decisions and overall attitude toward a product.
A great example that illustrates the power of a logo is when a study showed a group of people two pictures of the same diamond earrings.
The only difference was that one group was shown the image with a Walmart logo in the corner, and the other group was shown the image with a Tiffany’s logo.
The participants were all asked to name an estimate price for the earrings.
Those who were shown the Walmart earrings estimated their value to be around $25.
Those who were shown the Tiffany’s earrings estimated their value to be around $5,000.
Are you surprised?
Your logo and brand identity can shape the perceived value of an object, based on brand recognition alone, within seconds.
Here are some things to consider when crafting your brand identity.
Consider Your Color Scheme
Colors have deep emotional connections associated with them that move people in different ways. Get it right, and they can work powerfully for you. Get it wrong, and you’re asking people to move along.
Here’s a quick break-down displaying the psychology and mental triggers associated with each color.
Red: energetic, sexy, bold, pause, stop, immediacy, attention,
Associated brands: Coca Cola, ESPN, Red Bull, Target, GNC, Ferrari
Orange: action, enthusiastic, creative, friendly, youthful, promise
Associated brands: Nickelodeon, Harley-Davidson, Blogger
Yellow: innovative, youthful, sunny, inventive, optimism, designer
Associated brands: Best Buy, DHL, McDonalds, Livestrong
Green: growth, organic, instructional, fresh, natural, sensible, cool, environmental
Associated brands: BP, Fresh & Easy, Starbucks, Recycle, NextDayFlyers
Blue: professional, medical, tranquil, trustworthy, authority, sea, air, sky, masculine
Associated brands: Syfy, Facebook, Intel, NFL
Purple: spiritual, wise, evocative, royalty, sophistication, magical
Associated brands: Yahoo!, Hallmark, Cadbury, Crown Royal
Black + White: simple, pure, clean, credible, respectable, luxury, sophistication, power
Associated brands: Nike, Sony, Chanel
Pink: fun, flirty, thoughtful, kind, young, feminine, gentle, kind
Associated brands: Barbie, Baskin Robbins, Breast Cancer Awareness, Victoria’s Secret
Brown: rural, historical, steady, traditional
Associated brands: UPS, Hershey, M&M’s, Cracker Barrel, Ugg
Since your brand identity is your visual way to craft a message that speaks to your target audience, choose colors that convey the emotional connections you seek.
Fonts Say More Than Just Words
Fonts are the body language of your brand.
They determine how your message is received by the viewer.
But with hundreds to choose from, how do you pick?
There are 3 typefaces to choose from. Each have attributes associated with them that can be used to represent your brand accordingly.
Serif Typeface: A serif is the extra little stroke, those little curves at the end of letters.
They represent a more traditional, classic style.
Serif fonts are more readable - particularly in print. You’ll typically see them used in newspapers or books for this reason.
Some serif fonts include Times New Roman, Georgia, and Baskerville and have been utilized well by many popular brands, such as Google, Sony, Volvo, Wikipedia.
Sans Serif Typeface: “Sans” literally means “without” in latin, so a sans-serif font does not include any extra stroke at the ends of letters.
They’re considered a more modern, sleek and contemporary choice.
Some serif fonts include Arial, Helvetica, and Tahoma and have been utilized well by many popular brands, such as Nars, Target, Crate & Barrel, American Apparel and JCPenney.
Designer Typefaces: These look great as headlines, but should not be used for body copy or anything else. They can represent unique handwritten fonts, have dingbats, or be custom designed to visually represent your attractive character.
Some logos even become recognizable because of their custom fonts, such as Coca-Cola.
At Kriativ Co., we used a designer font for our logo only, then used san serif fonts everywhere else to keep things modern and sophisticated - like the clients we want to attract.
Also take into consideration your font formatting.
Title Case will feel relatable, and most conversational.
UPPER CASE will feel elite, mature and serious.
lower case will feel down-to-earth, playful and youthful.
When choosing your fonts and formatting, think about not just what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. Take your audience into consideration and give them a font that will relate to their personality and style.
Avoid gimmicky fonts and perhaps tweak an existing font for something custom. Websites like FontSquirrel.com or DaFont.com will give you access to thousands of downloadable free fonts.
When it comes to displaying the best imagery for your brand, I highly recommend staying away from stock photography.
There are many reasons for this, but to name a few:
People can spot stock photos instantly. It tells your viewers that you didn’t care enough to make it real. If you don’t care enough about your quality, why should they?
Stock lacks personality. You can spend hours scrolling through stock sites and still never find what you actually need. You may need a specific setting, color, type of person - and with stock photography, you get what’s available.
People may have seen them before. You run the risk of others using the same photography. This will immediately cause viewers to lose trust in your brand as you appear to be generic and nothing special.
Stock lacks consistency. It’s really hard to find multiple images on stock sites that all look like they’ve been captured by the same photographer. For this reason, it’s hard to successfully pair images and, if you do, it won’t make your visuals look cohesive. This will look unprofessional.
Capture photos that capture the spirit of your brand.
If you want to honor your brand and make it stand apart, you’ve got to put in the effort with your imagery.
Hire a professional photographer to come in and give your brand a photoshoot.
Capture behind the scenes images of you and your employees working, your office space, customers and products/services.
These will show an authentic and relatable vision for use across your social platforms.
A well considered set of images will communicate more for your brand than anything you could ever try to say.
Researching other visual brands can be helpful, but you need to be careful not to take the inspiration too literally. Your visuals needs to be unique and portray YOUR business.
Any creative work must be original and map directly back to your unique “Attractive Character” and brand identity.
It should never be copied or stolen from someone else, as this will hurt your overall trust and credibility.
At Kriativ Co., before we get started with building any brand identity, we searched for inspiration. Pinterest is usually our go-to place for this. We also love Behance and LogoPond.
Sometimes, borrowing concepts that you see within other appealing logos can be used to sketch out your own unique design.
In essence: logo + fonts + colors + imagery + inspiration = A Killer Brand Identity.
4. Design Beautiful, High-Converting Websites
A beautiful website is great, but its not very effective if it doesn’t deliver the leads and sales you’re after.
At Kriativ Co., we tend to opt for the online sales funnel website design.
This concept actually dates back to the late 1800s and was developed by the creator of the AIDA model.
AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Keep those words in mind, they’ll come in handy below.
Purposefully Simple Structure
The problem with traditional websites is that they are overwhelming.
Funnels however, are stripped down to one single purpose.
They are designed to lead viewers down a series of pages towards your ultimate goal. It could be capturing their email to build your database, a sales page where they could purchase your product and check out immediately, or a registration page where they can sign up to attend your event.
Because of this, funnels are currently the best way to convert traffic for businesses.
Get the Basics Right
Regardless of the website structure, there are basic design principles that need to be considered in order to truly make your website stand apart.
Capture leads before they disappear.
If you don’t capture your viewers’ contact information right away, they may be lost forever. Add a lead capture pop-up form to build your email list to stop this from happening.
Add white space wherever possible. White space allows viewers to breathe and absorb information. Without it, the reader doesn’t know what to read first. When this happens, it’s easier just to leave the website altogether.
Clutter Free is the Way to Be
The more simple, cohesive and clutter-free your pages are, the more effective they will be. Sections of websites typically only require a headline, subheadline, call to action/button and possible imagery.
If you keep this a consistent theme, your viewers will be able to easily digest your information into bite-size portions.
5. Communicate so That Your Brand is Hard to Ignore and Impossible to Forget
When you look at your content, you must be able to answer this question: “what am I trying to communicate?”
Establish a hierarchy of importance. What is first priority? Secondary priority? Third priority?
Then arrange your content accordingly.
Use size, placement and color to communicate which information is the most important and which is the least. You should be able to gauge this with a simple glance of a page.
When viewers glance through your platforms, are they able to easily digest what you’re communicating?
Your goal should be to communicate your brand’s purpose, perspective and principles within the first few seconds of looking at your site.
Communicating Through Writing
If you are one of the many people that struggle with writing, here are 2 tips to help make your brand stand apart.
Tip 1 - Speak it Out Loud
Simply record yourself, and transcribe what you said and how you said it. Use punctuation and formatting to illustrate your tone and voice.
Tip 2 - Keep it Digestible
There’s a handy tool called thehemingwayapp.com which tells the user the reading level of his/her writing. It also helps to remove unnecessary words and catches grammatical errors.
You want to strive to get the lowest reading level - the goal is equivalent to that of grade 2. This would mean that every person, at every reading level, could easily understand and comprehend your writing.
Overall, strive to keep your sentences short and digestible. If you can say something in 5 words, why use 10?
Make it easy for people to know what you’re selling.
Communicating With Visuals
Often, the best way to communicate your message is through imagery.
A person’s brain is hardwired to recognize and make sense of visual information more efficiently, which is useful considering 93% of all information we process is visual.
If possible, substitute text for imagery, graphics and videos.
6. You’re the hero. Now save the day.
With so much junk on the market, finding a powerful product or service can be hard to come by.
Your product needs to be authentic and full of hope.
You need to be able to deliver exactly what you promise, in order to build trust with current and future clients.
If your product doesn’t do what you promise it will, you’ll be in trouble. It’s important to deliver quality, value and real help in order for your product to stand apart.
Social Proof Goes A Big Way
One of the best ways to inform your audience about your products or services, is to use real testimonials and endorsements.
Videos and photographs of real customers hit an emotional level and work 100% more successfully than written praise alone.
Give a Little to Get a Little
Humans are hardwired to respond to gestures of kindness with something in return. Psychologists call it the Law of Reciprocity. But you may as well call it human nature.
As a matter of fact, people may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than the original.
For this reason, it’s imperative to give first, in order to receive.
As we said earlier, capturing leads is one of the most important things you can do.
To achieve this, it’s worth asking what can you offer in exchange for their leads.
Here are some excellent lead magnet ideas for online entrepreneurs:
14 - 28 Day Mini Course
E-book or Guide
The more creative the better.
If you can’t think of what to create for your lead magnet, ask your audience what they need. Often times the answer will be right under your nose.
7. Build a Tribe and Be Social
Your social media platforms are an extension of your business - and most importantly, it’s where your customers hang out.
For that reason, it’s more important than ever to be active on the big social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.
The way to stand apart visually on Social Media is by hitting these 5 points:
1. Profile Photo:
Your personal profile photo should display a professional photograph of your face. It should be captured specifically for this space. It shouldn’t be your favorite picture from the summer holiday.
This photo needs to be professionally captured and only focus on you.
A ¾ portrait works best. The image should be front lit, meaning that your face is bright and clear. It also needs to crop into square format naturally - to ensure that nothing gets cropped out
For a profile that is strictly business oriented, you should use a photo of your logo or product.
It’s imperative to use the same profile photo across all of your social media platforms. This will help build easy recognition across the board.
2. Cover Photo:
Must show that you and your product or service are interesting. Display something that describes your personality or career in a fun way.
For example: if you want your audience to know that you are a public speaker - show yourself on stage with a huge crowd. If you want your audience to know that you’re a baker, show a creative image of your cake designs.
3. Intro Section or Bio:
Keep it short and make sure your bio is always complete. Businesses often neglect to utilize this space to stand apart.
Include a brief unique fact about you and your work - something that can’t be replicated by someone else.
For example: “I help brands with creative + marketing. My work's been featured across billboards in Times Square.”
This isn’t something that every marketer can say. The goal is to mention what you do, and how you stand apart from the crowd.
Be sure to include links to your website for convenience whenever possible.
4. Curate Your Content Discriminatively:
Be very selective about what you choose to publish. You don’t want to give mixed messages.
Only publish content that is pertinent to your business and its personality pillars. This will make it easy for your viewers to understand and connect with you.
Use attributes from your brand identity consistently - like your brand colors, fonts and image style. Each of your creative assets (website, social pages, emailers) need to look cohesive.
5. Stay Engaged, Always Be Present:
When friends and followers comment, like, share or interact with you - be sure to engage and interact back.
Everyone loves a real, authentic, human connection.
If you can make your audience realize that they are important to you, and are your first priority - they will feel super special and talk about you to all their friends.
Genuine engagement will make you stand apart online - it’s a given.
If you do things just like the next person, what will make you stand apart?
In order to honor ourselves and our brand, we must go above and beyond. We must do things that nobody else is doing.
We must be creative.
By going the extra mile with your brand presence, and by giving everything you do special treatment and respect - you show honor.
When you honor your brand identity, websites, social media, advertising and overall business - you’ll attract ideal clients and become the most obvious and best choice in your industry.