Branding yourself and your business through social media and online is essential in today’s world. Melissa Hawks joins us to give strategies and examples!

Branding For People In The Audio Industry

We’ve been discussing branding for quite sometime now. Chatting on and off about the importance of branding, logos and just general brand design. To sum it all up, we have a special guest on this episode. We first met her in Las Vegas as she attended the MRC meetup at New Media Expo. She is creator of brand and story and works with creatives, startups, entrepreneurs, non-profits and professional brands to help them define and discover their craft helping them build their brand story. Melissa Hawks is a founder of Hawks & Rock.

Melissa Hawks Defines “Branding”

There’s much misconception with branding and branding is a scary word for many people. Melissa described branding as not just a logo or slogan. It’s not just one component and consists of several elements. She defined branding as a sustainable promise that you make and keep to your audience.

There are practical elements to branding such as your logo. It’s the things that your audience see or hear when they first come in contact with your brand. There are also elements to branding that Melissa has worked on with plenty of customers which are essential to building your brand. These elements are the core to who and what your brand is. The philosophies on which your brand is built upon. These elements build brand trust, brand loyalty and engagement which in return will drive growth to your audience as well as growth in your profits. The more engaged your audience is; the more interested they are in your product, community or organisation; the more that they understand what you’ve created, the more they care about it, the more they trust it, the more they’re going to be an ambassador for it.

What Is Branding?
What Is Branding?

Sometimes we are caught up in the brand that we’ve created and we think that we just have to deal with the practical side of things to earn a few more dollars. But when you really understand your brand, it’s going to be easier for your audience to understand what your brand is. It all circles back around.

How Important Is Branding?

Whether you’re a corporate brand such as a company, a radio station, a business which is more than just yourself or a personal brand like voice over artist, podcaster or radio host that is just speaking for yourself, the way you present your brand to the world is paramount.

A good example of branding is when Melissa uses the #bluntgirl hashtag on twitter. She has a graphic designer who creates representations to tell her clients the truth. It is imperative that you invest in your logo and in your graphic design for your brand identity. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to do this. What you need is to sit down and spend time with your graphic designer explaining what you can see and what you want your audience to see as your brand. An adept graphic designer can put these things into an image that will represent your brand. People need to connect to some sort of image whenever they see your brand.

The Importance Of Branding On Social Media

The power of social media can take you to places especially if you’re consistent with your representation or image on all your platforms. Looking at Melissa’s Twitter, her handle is @MelissaHawks she has the same profile picture on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and in any of her social media accounts which is branding across all of her social media platforms. Melissa says you should be intentional with your profile pictures as it shows the message you want to tell to your audience and it displays what you want to project to the world. Your profile picture can present your core values and ignite feelings in your audience without saying a word. For podcasters, voice artists, radio DJs or individuals who are contemplating if they really need a personal brand, you have to realize that you already have a brand and you’re constantly putting content out there so it’s really important to be intentional about it. You have to think about what it is that you are putting out there.

How Long Does It Take To Create A Brand Story?

It’s different for every brand however a brand can be created in an instant because the story can be created in an instant. It’s a longer process when you’re talking about being intentional about it but it is important to remember that your brand can be affected in an instant by a choice that you make whether good or bad. Melissa works with different clients and the length of creating the brand story varies. She does a 3 to 4 day concentrated session with the client to create the brand story which will continue to evolve over the course of a year or so. Your brand is a living and breathing thing that evolves. It shouldn’t be stagnant so you should allow it to continue to evolve.

Melissa reckons that you should be able to sit down in a couple of days to think about your core elements of what your brand is, where you are headed, what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to get there. Layout a plan and a strategy to make things happen.

Define Your Core Values

This may sound a little corporate but defining your core values is one of the crucial activities Melissa does with her clients. Core values guide you in all of the messaging that you create for your brand. Everything that comes from your brand refers back to your core values. One of the things Melissa talks about in her client sessions is how important it is to constantly be reviewing your core values. If at some point you find that the things you put out consistently don’t reflect your core values then you need to look at your brand because your brand is evolving just as you as a company or a person are evolving. If your defined core values are changing because your brand is changing that’s something you need to reevaluate. Make sure to constantly review your brand and look at what is changing about your brand, your audience and realise what you need to do to stay on top of this.

Advice For Individual Artists When It Comes To Branding

Individual Branding
Individual Branding

As a voice artist, a creative or a podcaster in branding you are creating a platform for yourself. It is important that you have good personal branding and it is vital to keep a line between the brand and you as a person. A lot of people when they first step up to the stage or their realm they feel a sense of urgency from their audience to share all of their life and the bigger their platform grows and the bigger their audience grows the more ravenous their audience becomes for knowledge of their life. We see that in celebrities all the time. Melissa believes that there is a great significance of value in establishing who and what your brand is, know what your brand does and what your brand doesn’t do, what your brand will share about your personal life and what you won’t share so that as you begin to see more and more success you are not heading into a meltdown.

What About People Who Don’t Have An Online Presence?

I asked Melissa what she thinks of people she meets and finds out that they don’t exist online and she said that it happens rarely. She relates searching for people online with researching in a library as she is a graduate of library science and an avid search fanatic who can find just about anything on the internet. As crazy as it may sound, this situation happened to her. She looked up online a person that she just met and literary nothing came up which is odd because the person was young, probably 26. She was puzzled. Melissa reiterates that when you are building a personal brand you need to make sure that you are careful with the content you are putting out there because nothing dies on the internet.

What Can You Do If You Have A Common Name?

Your Own Unique Brand
Your Own Unique Brand

Melissa suggested a lot of ways to standout in search results. The easiest way is to do search engine optimisation which costs a substantial amount of money for good quality SEO but produces great results. A cheaper way to do it is to engage your audience to post pictures of you say you are at an event and tag you in that. You can also do backlinking which will be beneficial to make your personal brand standout. But basically, adding more content of your personal brand to the internet.

Easy And Actionable Tips To Improve Your Brand

A couple of things you can do right now to improve your brand according to Melissa is to brainstorm with someone and take a hard look on your brand identity. Be completely honest with yourself. You can also ask your friends, the ones who don’t lie to you, what they think of your logo or your brand identity as a whole. If you have an audience that are willing to respond, ask them what they think about your brand. For radio stations where there’s a call in, you can ask people what the think. Take sometime and get some feedback about what you’re doing right now. It’s not only a great way to find out what people are thinking but also it’s a great way to get people invested in your brand.

Secondly, Melissa mentions the website Simply Measured where you can get free analytics reports on your social media which are very easy to read and understand. It will tell you how well you are doing on social media and help you to become better.

How Important Is Your Klout Score?

What's Your Klout?
What’s Your Klout?

In a grand scheme of things a Klout score is useful because you need to be looking at how engaged your audience is. A really interesting way to find how people are really engaged in your brand is by looking at how your tweets are being retweeted or favorited. You can be a radio station or a podcaster, or a DJ or a vocal artist who has 150,000 followers and when you tweet something you can only have 5 people interact with it – your engagement sucks. However you can be a podcaster who has 1,500 followers and when you tweet something you can get 35 favourites and 20 retweets – that level of engagement to is bigger than the other one as the latter is an influencer. The influencer is affecting his or her community in an enormous way. So the bigger question you should be asking yourself is to what level of engagement do you have with your audience?

Connect With Melissa

Follow her on Twitter @MelissaHawks and her company @HawksandRock. You can also checkout her business website Hawks & Rock.

What Are You Going To Do To Improve Your Personal Brand?

I know I couldn’t compete with the search results of Mike Russell the Scottish politician but what I will do to improve my personal branding is to work on my personal website. Izabela on the other hand would want to start thinking of her personal brand and look for things she needs to improve. We hope that the tips from Melissa really resonated with you and it’s going to take you to a frame of mind that branding is really vital. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Win An Exclusive Branding Package From Hawks And Rock

Curate My Brand

Curate My Brand

Is your brand feeling a little unfocused? Are you unsure how to reach and grow your audience?

The Curate My Brand contest winner will receive three 45 minute sessions where Melissa from Hawks & Rock will define your personal brand, evaluate your current digital presence and level of engagement on social media, define your audience, and create a very basic strategy for moving toward future brand goals.