Dialed In: Navigate Your Brand Identity through a Storm of Competition

Dialed In: Navigate Your Brand Identity Through a Storm of Competition

Dialed In: Navigate Your Brand Identity Through a Storm of Competition

Understanding who your audience–and isn’t–is critical for many reasons, but I’m going to focus on your being able to start blogging and using social media. Until you know who you are, you and your brand will be flailing to try to determine who your product or service will appeal to. Every day on all platforms, there are startups and brands who have the “shotgun” approach, who say that “everyone” is their target market. And we’ve all heard that “if everyone is your target market, then no one is” thought before. So where to start?

Simple Survey

Use something like Survey Monkey to ask your already-existing clients or friends what they think of your brand. A short survey of 3-4 questions (perhaps with a reward for finishing) could be very useful. For instance, “What one idea comes to mind when you think of our company?”

You might also want to ask your employees what they would change about the company, as Matthew Evins suggests in his excellent article Before Rebranding: Five Questions to Gauge Your Brand Health. As he says, simply asking the question raises morale. And who wouldn’t want to work somewhere with high morale? Of course if you’d rather have a demoralizing environment, you could read Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees.

Brand Identity and the 360 Review

Brand Identity and the 360 Review

360 Interview

For the more serious, Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You and a marketing strategy consultant, suggests the Personal 360 Interview, where you ask key people who work with you to provide anonymous feedback. You could provide a list of traits that people circle, such as “creative,” “generous,” etc. as one of the questions.

For a comprehensive list of why to conduct a 360 Review, here is a fab Guide to 360 Reviews. This guide is meant for an individual, but could be applied to an organization as well.

The Best-Laid Plans

Like a person, a business is an organic, living thing, and changes from time to time. The goals and resolutions you had as a 12-year-old kid won’t be the same resolutions you have as an adult. Why would a business be any different? Speaking of resolutions, here are my latest post, resolutions for social media.

Brand Identity and Authenticity

Brand Identity and Authenticity

Authenticity in Words and Actions

Once you have a clear idea of what your brand is, creating the target audience for your brand should be much simpler. That means that the words you use in tweets, posts, and blogging should be consistent. Having a list of words to pull from, as well as those you won’t use, can be enormously helpful. Even if your brand consists of you (if you are the brand), you need to figure out who you are. Maria Brophy has a post about saying who you are in 5 words.


Are you the same person online as offline? Do your actions match the attributes you want your brand to have? For instance, if one of your attributes is generosity, is your brand consistently being generous day in and day out? If you say you are about integrity, does everyone who work for you have it? You certainly don’t want your brand to be thought of as ironic.

Questions for the Small Brand

If you head up a small company, spending a day or two once a year to discover or rediscover who your audience is can be enormously useful. For example, is your product or service expensive? What kind of person buys your product? Is your target customer local or can they be located anywhere? Is there a target age or range to your ideal client? You may not know who your target market is quite yet, but over time you’ll start to see patterns emerge. Reviewing questions like these once a year can help you become more focused on your social media and blogging so that your tweets, posts, and pins reflect something appealing to your target audience.

Choose Another Company to Model

Some small brands like to choose a slightly larger company to model themselves after. Often I’ll hear “make our Pinterest look like their Pinterest” or “we like the tweets from ABC company.”

When you have that target audience narrowed down, you can hand that list of attributes to your social media manager.

Using Surveys to Define Audience

Using Surveys to Define Audience

Using Surveys to Define Audience

Your startup or company is still forming, and although you have a great product, you’re not sure who is using your product. If you haven’t read the high-level document about defining your audience, you might want to take a look. A survey is a perfect way to help figure out who your users are before you go chasing the wrong demographic. Here are a few tips.

Keep it Short

If you’ve ever answered a survey yourself, you probably appreciate the ones that are simple and to the point. Don’t make people answer 20 frillion questions! Ten questions would be about the max most people would answer before they bail on you. And keep each question as short as possible, too.

Avoid Yes or No Questions

Like a conversation around a dinner table, a yes or no question doesn’t encourage talking. So keep most of the questions open and you could get some surprising answers! Some suggest opening with a yes or no question and then following with a more open-ended one.

Eliminate Unnecessary Questions

For instance, you probably don’t need to know a person’s reading habits, where they went to school, or the kind of car they drive. So cut back on those questions so you’ll get more people to finish the survey.

Have Someone Else Rate the Survey

Have a friend take the survey and give their two cents on how successful it is or isn’t before you release it to the general public. Then go back and edit the questions. Better still, have two or three people give their opinion. If you absolutely have to edit your own work, print it and then be ruthless, as Caroline McMillan explains in her Lifehacker article, “How to Edit Your Own Writing.”

Be Willing to Hear the Truth

Be Willing to Hear the Truth

Be Willing to Hear the Truth

You may not hear things you want to hear, so be open-minded when creating your survey. If you only want to hear positive, glowing reviews of your product, don’t create a survey! So for instance, if you ask, “We’ve created the best product on the market, don’t you agree?” you’re probably not going to get feedback that will help you improve. Like Twitter and other social media platforms, a survey is a listening tool.

Give a Small Incentive to Finish

Sometimes incentives are given during a survey to encourage people to finish. If your survey is longer than average, you might consider giving a discount or a free trial of your software as an incentive. Some companies even give cash incentives (just make sure the amount is affordable!).

Do a Phone Survey

Some people respond better to hearing someone ask questions, so you might consider this option. Studies suggest that phone surveys get a higher response rate.

How Do You Like My Awesome Blog Post?

Just kidding! But is there anything you’ve found in a survey that got you riled up or that you really liked? Please leave a comment! Thank you!

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