Branding 101: How To Stay On Brand
For my readers who are fellow content creators or entrepreneurs, I wanted to share a part of a series that I just started with you: Branding 101. Blogging advice posts seem to be popular with a very large part of my audience, so I am trying to incorporate more of these types of posts into my normal fashion and beauty content. If you're not a blogger, I'm sure there are a few nuggets you can pull from for your every day life too! If not, we'll be back to regular scheduled programming on Friday!
If you've read any of my previous posts, then you know that I'm a huge believer in finding your niche for your blog or business, and building from there. But once you've identified who your message is for, it's the building of your brand that sometimes takes the most work, requires the most time and might have you feeling like you need to go back to the drawing board.
I'm not an expert, but after 3 years of blogging under this new domain and over 5 years of owning some type of brand or business, I've got a pretty good handle on what it takes to build your brand.
I'm sharing THREE tips (in no particular order) that I hold near and dear to my heart:
1. Every opportunity is not a good opportunity
In order to grow, you have to stay on brand and focused on what your message is. I've turned down countless opportunities and giftings because the product or service does not fall in line with the direction I see my business moving or with what I am presently working on. Is it amazing when a brand reaches out to you for a sponsored post or gifting opportunity? Yes, of course! Especially if you're a new blogger! I remember the feeling, trust me. However, I would challenge you to really think about your content and ask yourself, does this fall in life with what my core message is? If the answer is no, then I say - don't do it. Have I left money on the table as a result of this? Absolutely! And I'm okay with that. Why? Because in order to build your brand, you have to have a brand vision in mind for what you want your business to be. Branding is equal parts hard work and vision.
Story time: when I first started blogging, I would get emails left and right about sunglasses, teas, panty subscriptions, vitamins ... you name it, it's been in my inbox (and I'm sure many of yours too). I had to really take a step back and think about how far I wanted to take stephtaylorjackson.com, I knew Flat Tummy Tea and Hair Vitamins (and the like) were not on my vision board for my brand and they weren't things that I wanted to be linked with my brand. Not to say that those things are bad, they are not, but I'm a fashion blogger! And I wanted to be a resource to you for fashion advice and styling tips.
I didn't want to confuse that message, especially in the beginning as I was building my audience and growing my blog. This is so important in the beginning and even as you continue to grow.
The more established I've become, the more I say no. And every time I say no, an even better door opens up for me that is more on brand and moving me in the direction that I want to go. Trust the process. Overnight success might happen every once in awhile, but it's rare. This will require a few sleepless nights and a lot of hard work.
2. Build on to your brand when you are ready, not because everyone else is doing it
This is the perfect next topic because it correlates with what I was just chatting about above. We know that every opportunity is not a good opportunity, but when do you start adding new verticals to your brand or business? Will it confuse your audience? Will they like it?
Every brand is different. I did not start adding true lifestyle content until I was in my 2nd year of blogging. I am sure I could have done more sooner, but I didn't feel like the time was right and I felt like I needed to really prepare my audience for the shift in content. Now, granted, these were not huge shifts by any means, but I slowly started adding more beauty, and then lifestyle content after polling my audience to see if this was something that they would be interested in seeing.
I launched as a fashion blog, but I knew that I eventually wanted to do more. My advice to anyone unsure of how to layer in a new vertical would be to talk to your audience! The polling option on Instagram is awesome! Also, sprinkle in a few posts here and there and see how they do.
I personally felt like I needed to master my fashion blog and be really consistent here before I added anything else to my plate, and that worked for me. If you need to stick with one message for awhile before layering in more of what you really want to do, don't be afraid to do that! It just makes adding in that next step so much easier.
3. Be consistent.
Being consistent is key in pretty much anything in life, but especially for your brand or business. When you think about major brands that you know and love, think about their messaging and how it's pretty much always the same. Even if the television commercial is different or the ad changes, the core branding is the same. That's how you have to view your website, your posts/content, your social media pages, your tone, your energy ... all of that (and so much more) is a part of your brand. Because of this, it is SO important to be genuine and true to who you are when branding yourself or your business. Be consistent but also stay true.
My Instagram feed gives off the same vibe as my website and when I connect with you guys on Instagram Stories, my goal is be a little more laid back and casual, but the overall message is the same. Everything has to flow. With me, what you see is what you get. Sometimes I take a few days off from posting because I need to refocus or shoot additional content that aligns a little bit better with my website. Take the the time you need so that everything you produce is something you are proud of.
That's all I have for today! Let me know if you have any questions or comments! I always love hearing from you guys.
Thank you so much for reading.
XO - Steph