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With just a swoosh of the right logo and legendary taglines like, “Just do it!” Nike catches our attention and our imagination. With the image of an apple that has a bite taken out of it, we conjure up dreams of our collective hunger to have the latest and greatest Iphones, computers, futuristic watches, and Ipads galore. And, whether it’s a streaming service, a movie or a theme park, there are times when we could all use a little, or a lot, of Disney magic.
These are all examples of successful branding. My guess is just looking at their respective logos floods you with thoughts and feelings about their brands and the products or services they offer. Make no mistake, these companies spend millions each year to try and capture our imagination and communicate information about their brand. I was, recently, at a “game night” party where one of the games played was simply to describe, or identify, company logos and guess them before anyone else. And, it was fun. It was also amazing to see how many logos we were familiar with. Thus, the power of effective branding.
What is branding and why do I need it for a coaching business?
While you are not setting out to create a major worldwide brand (or maybe you are) with your career coaching practice, you will nonetheless need to communicate who you are and what you offer to potential clients.
The term “branding” simply explained is the essence of who you are. The official definition of branding is “to make an indelible mark or impression on somebody or something.” It’s more than your resume, your bio and any online profile. And it must be authentic to you. An effective brand communicates who you are, strengthens your credibility, and builds visibility with people who want to promote you and even, more importantly, to those who want to hire you.
What makes you unique?
Your brand is how you stand out from others. Are you a coach who focuses on career exploration advising, or are you a resume specialist? Do you focus on working with college grads or executives looking for their next big opportunity? Do you have a nurturing style or do you practice “tough love”? When you type something into a search engine like Google, chances are you are looking for something specific. Likewise, you want potential clients to be able to easily find you.
No matter how you describe it, the good news is that you already have a brand, even if you don’t know what it is yet. You may just not have articulated it up until this point. In order to cultivate a brand, you must be able to communicate what makes you unique in comparison to others in the field doing the same type of work.
Use your mission statement as a catalyst for your brand
Spend some time crafting a mission statement. A mission statement explains what your career coaching practice is, what you stand for, and what you are trying to accomplish. Next, think about the feelings and emotions you want those words to convey to your potential clients. This is where what makes you unique comes into play.
How do you describe what makes you unique?
Here are some questions to help you clarify what makes you stand out:
- What adjectives would you use to describe your personality and coaching style?
- How has your personal and professional experience made a difference for clients in the past?
- Who do you want to help in your business and with what career issues?
- How is your clientele different? Think about what would make them choose you or what they’re looking for.
- How are your values, or beliefs, different? Think back to your mission statement and what you stand for.
Now it’s time to create a logo
Once you have defined what you uniquely have to offer and how you want people to feel when they see your business, it’s time to create a logo.There are many do-it-yourself programs available on the internet, or you can hire someone to create one for you. An effective logo get’s people’s attention, makes a strong first impression, is the foundation of your brand identity, is memorable, and separates you from your competition. Think about what feelings you want your brand colors and fonts to convey in your communications and advertising.
Pulling it all together
When it comes to effective branding, begin at the beginning with who you are. Think about who you are marketing to. Create a mission statement and a representative logo. Consider how you are different from other similar career coaching services, and what experience you bring that makes you unique. Answer and expand on the five questions to think about when building your brand. And, above all, be authentic. You are representing yourself to the world. Do the work and go out and make a splash that is completely your own.