Lesson 5: Define Your Brand Focus
by Bob Baker
One of the key elements that propel successful brands — and successful people — is having a defined focus. After all, that’s what a brand name does: It stands for something specific to a particular group of people you hope to transform into fans.
Example: Rebecca Kemp is an artist. Like thousands of artists, she is promoting herself through her Web site and other online avenues. To keep from being lost in the over-saturated cyberspace marketplace, she sets herself apart by focusing on her specialties: wildlife and fantasy art. Take a look at her Web site, Becky’s Wildlife & Fantasy Art.
Kemp not only sells her artwork imprinted on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads, she also holds animal trivia contests, publishes an e-mail newsletter, exchanges links with other wildlife and fantasy artists, offers an affiliate program, and more.
At the top of her home page, she prominently displays the name of the site: “Becky’s Wildlife and Fantasy Art,” so there’s no doubt about what type of art she enjoys and creates. Becky could have easily decided to be more generic with her marketing approach and call the site Becky’s Art Site; but what is a Becky’s Art Site besides a site that has something to do with art and is maintained by someone named Becky?
Name recognition means nothing if the name isn’t associated with something specific. Art is too broad a subject. Does it refer to abstract, still life, landscape, portrait, impressionistic, or what?
You need to supply your potential fans with a hook on which to hang your name. Becky could have zeroed in even tighter on her specialty by choosing either wildlife or fantasy to be her primary specialty. Plus, she might have specified a particular medium, such as Becky’s Wildlife Watercolor Art or Becky’s Fantasy Pastel Art.
Still, her site serves as a good example of how one person can effectively home in on a specialty area and exploit it.
Regardless of what your general area of expertise is, you must focus on a particular slice of the pie and make certain your name is attached to it. Think of this concept as Nitro (your name) and Glycerin (your specialty). Either ingredient alone is powerless. Put them together and you have an explosive combination.
Imagine that you suddenly develop an interest in left-handed bowlers. Not knowing where to turn for more information, you head to your favorite search engine and type in the keywords “left-handed” and “bowler.”
After looking through a few uninformative links, you come across the name Harold Fernburger. One click later and you’re at Harold’s site looking over a cornucopia of articles, photo galleries, message boards, and links to all things left-handed bowler-related.
You subscribe to Harold Fernburger’s “Southpaw Strike” e-mail newsletter and vow to return to his site often, since he adds new information every week.
What just happened?
Before you made this discovery, the name Harold Fernburger meant nothing to you. It was just another name is a sea of names. Before you stumbled upon his site, the topic of left-handed bowlers gave you no reference points or associations; it brought up a blank screen in your mind.
Once you found his site, the two things — the name and the specialty — were not only connected, they were welded together in your brain. The next time you go looking for information on lefties who wear those funny shoes, you’ll most likely head straight to Harold’s site (or use the key words “Harold Fernburger” in a search).
That’s the difference between fuzzy branding and having your name and identity sharply in focus.
Is it possible to choose a brand identity that appeals to too many people? Find out in our next branding lesson.
This workshop is based on Bob’s book “Poor Richard’s Branding Yourself Online: How to Use the Internet to Become a Celebrity or Expert in Your Field” (Top Floor Publishing). Download two chapters free and find out more about the book at BrandingYourselfOnline.com