What’s in a Brand?

Your business IS your brand.

While growing up on our family’s farm and ranch in Wyoming, I knew a lot about branding. Every spring and fall after calving season, we had to round them up, send them through the shoot, give them their vaccinations and apply a brand.  Now I understand there are people out there appalled by this centuries-old practice, but for a rancher, branding is critical. It’s true that cattle theft, or rustling, is actually still alive and well and without branding their four-legged assets, ranchers would never be able to prove ownership.  A brand ensures that their cattle can be distinguished from any other herd.

Now, you may wonder why I talk about cattle branding on a website about my freelance writing business. The answer is that helping to create a brand for a business–or writing messaging that supports a brand–is a big part of what I do.  A company’s brand, you see, is far more than just a logo.  It’s everything that sets them apart in the minds of their customers.

In an Entrepreneur.com article published late last year, Less Kollegian and Charles Van Vechten encouraged businesses and organizations to embrace their brand. They wrote,

“A new logo or shiny brochure is just one small aspect of your brand. It also has a voice, a message, a persona and much more. Remember that your brand is your ‘everything,’ from how you communicate internally and externally as well as go about your business even when no one is looking.”

I would also add to Kollegian and Van Vechten’s description this: your brand must be authentic, and it must be unique to you. Even if you are in a crowded field with competitors to the left and right of you, there is something distinctly different about how you do what  you do, day in and day out.  And that “distinctly different” something is your brand–whether or not you’ve ever identified it as such.

If you know your brand, it must be evident on-line and off, in your website, your marketing materials, the way you communicate with your customers and the way you communicate with your organization as a whole. If you don’t know it or can’t express it, then now’s the time to start discovering it.

Don’t believe me about the importance of having–and knowing–your brand? Just ask the next rancher you see.

If you’d like to know more about the importance of having a strong brand message, or need help in establishing one for your new or existing business, contact me today.

photo credit: m.gifford via photopin cc

Making My Leap

As the saying goes, “Leap and a net shall appear.”

Not long ago I posted a question on my Facebook page: what was the greatest leap of faith you ever made…and what were the results of that leap? Although I knew most of the people who responded quite well, many of their answers surprised me. For one it was going back to school; for another, it was moving to a new city, for another it was publishing her first book and for another it was running for public office.

Well, creating Box 117 Creative was–and still is–my leap. Working on my own (aka becoming a freelance writer on a full-time basis) was not something I’d ever considered.  I have been lucky to work for some great companies and work alongside some amazingly talented professionals for years.  So when the concept of starting my own business was presented I was at first hesitant…and yet it just felt right. After all, I’d been a freelance writer on the side for nearly 6 years, writing for magazines, creating web copy and writing other marketing pieces for various businesses–and I loved that, too.

So, after talking with my very supportive and understanding boss, the leap was taken. Thus far, it’s been remarkably fulfilling, and I am more excited than ever to meet and help other business owners who are making leaps of their own.

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