If you’re an individual looking for a job or have a newly launched business, you should think about developing a good branding strategy. Branding may seem like an afterthought. After all, shouldn’t what you are offering speak for itself?
In today's competitive market, branding isn’t just for products and businesses; it’s also important for professionals who want to stand out in their field. Branding is integral to positioning yourself or your company as one people can trust. It’s your identity.
The direction your brand takes will influence how you approach everything from advertising to customer service. It lays the foundation for your marketing strategies going forward. It will define how your audience perceives you. But where do you even begin?
A brand statement is a great place to start so it’s important to get it right.
So, what is a brand statement, anyway?
A brand statement is a concise summary of what your business does, how you do it, and what makes it unique. In just a few sentences (preferably one) people should be able to understand you or your company’s mission, goals, values, and how you or your business is different from your competition.
The difference between a brand statement and a mission statement is that a brand statement is outward-facing, while a mission statement is inward. A brand statement informs the general public, customers, and clients what it is you’re about; a mission statement describes what your company does from the internal perspective.
Generally, a mission statement is more descriptive than a brand statement. It is designed to inform people within an organization about what you do and why you are doing it, and the path you will take to achieve it.
To see it in action, let’s take a look at the difference between sportswear brand Nike’s brand statement and mission statement:
Nike’s brand statement tells the customer in no uncertain terms what it offers or what value it provides. Its mission statement outlines its goals and ultimate vision.
Like brand statements, taglines are also outward-facing. However, taglines aren’t typically designed to inform. A tagline is a creative catchphrase, the aim of which is to make people recognize and remember your business. It doesn't need to identify your product or company, but to be a memorable phrase that can be associated with your brand in customers' mind.
Let’s use Nike as an example again. Their famous tagline is simple yet effective: “Just Do It.” It doesn’t tell you anything about Nike as a brand or what it does. However, since the phrase appeared in 1988, it has become so ingrained in the public psyche that people immediately associate it with the brand upon hearing it.
So, while it is yet another key element of brand identity, a tagline isn’t a brand statement. Brand statements set the tone for your marketing strategy, while taglines make it memorable.
When it comes to marketing or branding of any kind, you must know your business inside and out. It might seem obvious, but it bears saying. Your brand statement needs to reflect you or your business accurately.
A snappy, memorable statement means nothing if it results in your marketing campaign straying completely from your goals and values. But it’s also important to remember that integral to a brand statement is how you can benefit the audience, and not just what your personal or business goals are.
So, before you rush into coming up with a brand statement, put pen to paper and do the following:
Your USP is the thing that distinguishes your company from other businesses. Defining yours is particularly pertinent if your company has an offering similar to other businesses.
A helpful way of figuring out your USP is simply listing the attributes of your business and your offering. Sometimes finding a USP might be difficult if you’re too close to your product. By making a list, you’ll more easily spot characteristics that make you unique from the competition.
If there’s nothing that stands out, look deeper. Maybe your competitors have the same attributes, but perhaps you offer services at a lower price, or you have more helpful customer service. You may even end up having more than one USP. That’s great! For a brand statement, it’s best to focus on one.
Say you’re just about to launch a vegan deli. Your business stands out because you’re the only non-meat serving establishment in the neighborhood. That’s your USP. If your neighborhood is chock-full of vegan delis, perhaps yours is the cheapest or has the freshest ingredients, or only sources products from local suppliers. One of these could be your USP.
From your list of potential USPs, pick the one that is most compelling and relevant to your target audience. It should describe what it is they want most from the market you are operating in.
Unsure about who you’re targeting? Then it’s time to...
We all want to be liked. Preferably by everyone. But when it comes to branding, targeting only a specific demographic is essential. By trying to appeal to a too-wide spectrum of people, you may end up alienating those to whom your company and offering will appeal most. By considering what appeals to your target audience, you’ll more easily be able to angle your brand statement.
To have something to refer back to during the process of writing your brand statement, create a profile of your ideal customer by asking these questions:
By doing this exercise, you’ll be able to define how your product or offering can benefit your target customerIs it quality? Comfort? Expertise? Or simply just a friendly face?
Knowing your target audience and their most pressing needs, problems or desires will help you set the tone of your marketing strategy, as well as shape your brand personality.
Let’s say you’re starting a blog focusing on the best of budget beauty. Your target audience is likely teenage girls and young women who aren’t earning a lot (if anything). They probably spend a lot of time in school or college or working part-time. They want to keep up with the latest beauty trends and look good, but can’t afford to spend a lot of money on this. You solve this problem by providing a guiding voice, showing products that can help them look their best and keep up with what’s cool without breaking the bank.
From this, you can gather that your audience is probably looking for someone they can trust, who knows their way around a tube of mascara but is also friendly and relatable. When writing your brand statement, you should always have your customer in mind.
By doing the previous two exercises, you’ll have a good foundation for figuring out your brand personality. A brand personality is by and large the set of human characteristics that can be attributed to your brand, something your potential audience can relate to. A brand personality is essential for appealing to potential customers and maintaining customer loyalty.
Write down a list of traits that describe (or you would like to describe) your brand; customers are more likely to buy from brands whose personality is similar to their own, so the set of traits for your brand personality will define how your customers will feel about your brand. It’s helpful to think of your brand as a person during this exercise. Pick the most relevant words, narrowing it down to four or five adjectives to keep you focused.
If you run a moving company, these could be:
Or if you run a vegan deli, these could be:
With your brand personality in mind, you'll be able to shape a clear and consistent brand statement as well as define your tone of voice and other elements of your brand identity.
The promise your business makes to its customer is integral to your brand statement. It is fundamentally your USP: the main problem you are solving for your customer. Everything else you produce in terms of marketing and branding must reflect the promise you make in your statement.
Creating a business brand statement and a personal brand statement requires much of the same considerations. The key difference with a personal brand statement is that you’re marketing yourself.
It can be a bit more difficult being an advocate for your own strengths rather than those of a business. It can seem a bit braggy or big-headed. But it’s absolutely necessary if you want to position yourself as an expert in your field and stand out to employers. More importantly, it’s a means of controlling your own narrative, rather than letting outside sources do it for you. Your personal brand statement is more than just a job title or description – it’s who you are.
Like with creating a brand statement for a business, when thinking about your personal brand statement, you should also define your USP, audience, brand personality, and business promise. What are your goals and values? Who are you trying to appeal to? What distinguishes your character? What is it you can do for potential employees and clients and how you can do it uniquely?
Honesty is crucial here. It’s best not to exaggerate your strengths and achievements, but it’s particularly important to avoid it in the statement that defines your brand.
When you’re happy with your brand statement, be sure to include it on your personal website, LinkedIn and other social media platforms, and business cards. You should revise and update your personal statement regularly to reflect career growth and advancement.
A good brand statement is:
It is preferably one line. It can be longer if necessary but try not to run longer than three sentences. The longer it is, the less memorable it will be. Brevity is crucial here.
Related to brevity is word choice. Don’t use anything too complicated that may alienate your audience. Most of the time, writing a simple word will be as effective as a complicated one, that will help to reduce confusion while spreading your message. For more tips on writing effectively, be sure to check our comprehensive article on the subject. (Insert link here when it’s up?)
Effective brand statements from businesses
What each of these seven brand statements has in common is that there’s no fluff. Each one is a short statement that focuses on the company’s USP – what makes them stand out from brands like them. That’s what makes these brand statements so successful.
Here is a selection of personal brand statements from real people:
“I work with small companies and Fortune 500 companies to grow sales by finding overlooked opportunities and customizing the sales process to be more effective.”
"I am a lifestyle entrepreneur that teaches small business owners, freelancers, and entrepreneurs how to make a full time living doing what they love."
"Digital marketing pioneer, writer, speaker Ann Handley inspires marketers to create marketing magic that gets real-world results."
"Marketing strategist and entrepreneur that translates ideas into tangible results and creative initiatives for brands."
"Recruitment expert Anna O’Dea works with award-winning brands to place thousands of talented individuals into jobs they love across the Asia-Pacific. An expert on workplace issues, Anna is regularly quoted by media as an expert on workplace issues, including Huffington Post, SMH, The Age, Smart Company, Mamamia and the Herald Sun."
As you may have noticed from the previous section, many brand statements tend to follow a particular formula. With a business, it’s a simple statement of what they do. With a personal brand statement, it’s a little more, well, personal.
If you’re a business, consider the following template as a starting point:
"At [your company] we help [target customer] do [summation of your value (what problem you can solve) and USP (how you can do it uniquely)]."
After you fill in the blanks, it can be cut down and edited to make it a little more punchy. Let’s take Lyft’s brand statement that we mentioned previously. Maybe it started as:
At Lyft we help people who need to get somewhere get a ride there.
It’s short but uses too many words before it gets to the point. The template above is just a guideline. The information doesn’t need to be in that order. As long as it includes your USP and who it is you’re helping, the exact structure of the sentence doesn't matter. So don’t be afraid to play around with it. Make it a little more catchy and memorable, like Lyft’s actual brand statement, “A ride when you need one.”
For personal brand statements, the template is similar:
I am a [your profession] who helps [target customer] do [summation of your value (what problem you can solve) and USP (how you can do it uniquely].
Maybe you’re a marketing specialist who works with companies to improve their marketing strategies and reach a wider audience. Your statement might look like this:
I am a marketing specialist who helps businesses reach their full potential by developing powerful digital marketing strategies.
To bolster your claims, you could also add credentials or experience:
"I am a marketing specialist with ten years of industry experience and a proven track record in helping businesses reach their full potential."
Whether you use first person or third person in your brand statement is a personal preference (just make sure you stick to one or the other). The main thing is keeping it short and informative.
Writing a brand statement doesn’t have to be complicated. For businesses and individuals alike, an effective brand statement can quickly communicate how you can benefit your target audience.