When it comes to branding, we need to make decisions about how to present ourselves, and our business. Sometimes, we need to start from scratch, and ask ourselves exactly what we are branding. The answer isn’t always simple. Many of us have multiple passions, interests and businesses. We need to decide whether to brand as one company and one identity, or create separate brands.
Think, for a moment, about Suze. Suze is a talented contemporary artist. She sells her paintings online and shows in galleries. She’s known for her distinctive style. Much of Suze’s income, though, comes from running art classes for children.
Suze is at a crossroad. She needs to decide whether to merge this business, and create one brand identity, or keep the businesses separate.
Jake, on the other hand, has multiple passions and interests. He is a horse groomer, a guitarist, and a light designer. Jake makes a small income from each business, and is passionate about all three. Jake is also deciding how to brand himself. Should he brand himself as Jake Wesley: Horse Groomer, Guitarist and Light Designer? Or create three separate brands?
Both Suze and Jake have two options: create one brand, which harmonise their interests, or create multiple brands. Like anything, there are pros and cons for both options.
Just to make it easy for you, I have set out the pros and cons of each option below.
Create one brand for all your passions
Less brand confusion.
You have one email address, one phone number and one point of contact.
You don't need to always decide which card to pull out and give people and how to introduce yourself.
Your corporate clients will see what else you're offering and vice versa.
You will save money by updating only one website, and rebranding one logo.
There is less cost getting your brand up to date and refreshed.
Could be a good place to start, then as you develop both sides of the business, you could reconsider this.
If you're offering two very different services to different target markets with no crossovers, then it could be confusing to people viewing your site.
Your language will have to be the same for each group of customers. If this doesn't work, then one brand won't work.
Having two value propositions on the same web page is not best practice for the user experience (nor SEO).
Create separate brands
You can really target your brand message to your two different markets.
Redesigning a small website for locals will be a smaller job than updating your current site to accommodate both.
Bigger cost to get both brands up to date.
If there is a cross-over with the services you offer, this might get confusing in terms of how you answer your phone, send out emails, give out business cards.
So, how do you make a decision?
Weighing up the pros and cons is one thing. But is it enough to make a decision to merge our passions as one brand, or keep them separate?
The first place to start is to ask yourself:
How aligned are my passions? And is there an obvious crossover?
If your passions sit within one industry, like Suze’s passions do, then maybe merging is possible, and indeed desirable. You may be a business coach, who coaches very large companies, but also specialise in one-person business owners. You could be a caterer, who also runs a cooking school. Having one brand identity may save you time and money, and will simplify your brand awareness and business dealings.
If your passions are quite disparate, like Jake’s passions are, you may benefit from niche branding. If Jake creates one website for his horse grooming services, one for his music and one for his lighting business, he is less likely to confuse customers, more likely to target the right market and achieve better SEO results, and hopefully get better business results. Business coach and writer, Marie Forleo suggests that targeting our brand to one niche will be more successful in the long run. As Confucius says: “He who chases two rabbits, catches none.”
Is there a middle road?
Actually, there is. If you do take the road of niche branding, you have the option to link to your other businesses on your website, and introduce your other passions in your bio. The links will improve your SEO. The information also adds value for your customers, without distracting from your core message and brand. Customers are often interested to know more about you, so if you have other interests and passions, don’t be afraid to share them.
If you decide to harmonise your passions as one brand, you need to create a strong umbrella story. What is tying these brands together? If it is you, as a person, strengthen the personal identity of your site. And make sure each business and passion is clearly represented, to minimise confusion.
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