Have you ever had a phone conversation with someone and the connection was terrible?
Between the static in the background and words coming in and out, you start squinting (not sure why we squint when we can’t hear) hoping to make out what the heck is being said.
So it was a genius idea for Verizon to come up with the “Can you hear me now?” tagline. It emotionally connected with their target market who want reliable phone service regardless of location—which is a standout feature Verizon offers as a unique value.
Since the goal of a tagline is to support a company’s brand message in a catchy and concise way, this hit the mark.
Brand messaging is the lifeline of a service-based business. It’s what gets your voice heard.
Whether you’re in the process of a rebrand or starting from scratch, the key is to define a brand voice that is clear, consistent, credible, and carefree. (Want more info? Download my free guide “The 4 Cs to Brand Clarity” on my website.)
Otherwise, you’re basically the person trying to talk over a bad phone connection, and your audience is on the other side ready to move on. You’ll also have to work harder than a bounty hunter to find your ideal clients.
Since you’re probably not a bounty hunter, here are three steps you can take to make sure your message is heard loud and clear. We’ll take a trip down memory lane using the evolution of my own brand as an example.
Step #1: Start with Your Ideal Client in Mind
When I launched my business in 2011, my target market was job seekers. This is my first rebranded banner and message after I started to rethink my process.
It was LOUD and BOLD, and I loved it even though my good friend teased me about how “salesy” it was. As I look back at it, it’s not quite my style anymore but it still makes me smile since it was my first rebrand. I wanted to stand out (and boy did this do the job!).
On the other hand, while the branding was unique, the message wasn’t sexy. Job seekers want new jobs, not necessarily a “personal brand.” Even though having a strong brand makes the process easier, and even shorter, it was like trying to sell spinach at a candy shop.
Lesson: It’s better to connect your message to what your ideal clients want and then give them what they need. Also, if your brand is on the traditional side, stick with neutral colors and a tone that connects with your audience. If your brand has a more casual vibe, don’t be afraid to play with colors and non-traditional ways to convey your message. If you’re a little bit of both, find a happy balance between the two!
Step #2: Define Your Message
Fast forward a couple of years, I wanted a fun but cleaner look for my brand. I also gave in and added my headshot on my homepage although I HATE taking pictures. But as a brand strategist, I needed to take my own advice since a photo helps build trust.
For my message, I became more strategic. Instead of selling “spinach,” I wanted to get to the heart of why professionals choose the not always easy decision to make a career move.
However, this change, while catchy, was ambiguous. In retrospect, this reflected the transition I was going through with my business. I was expanding my services to work with both job seekers and entrepreneurs but could have done better by defining how my business could help both groups who have different needs.
Lesson: As your business evolves, make sure your message is aligned with your new direction. You want to show that you understand what keeps your ideal clients up at night and what brings them to you for help. (This may lead to you narrowing your focus and choosing a niche.) Develop your message to specifically talk to your target market and then let them know how your unique expertise can solve their problems.
Step #3: Refine Your Message
With my recent rebrand, I was reminded of all the lessons I learned with each evolution. In Edition 1, I talked about taking a much-needed step back so that I could move forward with clarity. I can’t stress how doing this will help you refine your message as your business evolves.
Looking at my business through a new lens allowed me to see how many entrepreneurs struggle to “find” their voice. So, I designed a process to make it easier for them to get the visibility and clarity they need using my unique experience as a writer and brand strategist. This concept is what shapes my message and is the foundation of my brand strategy.
Just like with my original banner, I’ll continue to find ways to improve on what I’ve built and make sure my message is clear so that I attract my ideal clients. Since I’m always evaluating my business, I’m sure this will not be my last iteration, and I’m okay with that.
Lesson: As entrepreneurs, our job is not only to help our clients but to also help ourselves—whether you do it on your own or hire a professional. We’re always evolving so naturally our businesses will be along for the ride too. This means working ON your business and regularly assessing where there’s room for improvement. It’s not always easy to juggle but your business will thank you for it.
In the final edition of this series, we’ll dive into what you do with your message once your ideal audience can “hear you now.” Until then, take a look at YOUR website and see how it stands up against the three steps we just covered.
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