Welcome to instalment number 2 of marketing for adventurers and bloggers! Today we’re going to be talking all around that mysterious word: branding. If you’ve been trying to build a “following” on the internet, you’re probably aware you’re “supposed” to have a brand. I’m going to tell you WHY and then HOW to do it.
What is a Brand?
The word brand has become synonymous with “big company”. Name some brands for me. Nike? Green and Blacks? Rab? Haribo? Bloggers and adventurers often talk about “working with brands” when they actually mean “working with companies to build their brand”. In my book, that’s not the same thing.
Let me explain.
If you think a brand is just a big company, you’re missing the point. A brand is an identity. It adds emotion and personality to what is effectively just a product or service.
For example, let’s take a fleece, or even a t-shirt. There are a whole scale of t-shirts made of basically the same materials, performing basically the same function. Even if we choose a range of standard-looking, 100% cotton t-shirts, there will be huge variety in colour and what they look like.
Which brand you buy says a lot about you. By buying one product over another, you’re associating yourself with a certain image. Those might not be the only reasons you bought a product, but brands tend to attract a certain sort of person. That is completely deliberate.
What’s the Point of a Brand?
Chocolate is just chocolate. From supermarket value bar to deluxe… some of you will cry out in disgust at this but… ultimately, they don’t taste particularly different. So, when you’re presented with a shelf of similar chocolates, how do you choose which one to buy? A brand differentiates.
Okay, some of you will have just thought price, or what you’re buying for or…. That is true, these are all factors we’re considering. But each of these attributes are rolled up into a brand.
- Green & Blacks – Expensive, high quality packaging, luxury
- Supermarket Value chocolate – Cheap, plain packaging, everyday
Does that kind of make sense? We’re making these decisions instinctively based on the look and feel of the product, not what the chocolate actually tastes like.
Branding for Adventurers
Let’s take this into the adventure space. The internet is noisy. Instead of a small shelf of adventurers, you’ve got an infinitely long shelf of people participating in various different levels of adventure. The adventure athletes, the everyday adventurers, weekend warriors, microadventurers, professional adventures, mountaineers, explorers… How do you distinguish yourself?
“You’re different… just like everyone else.”
Let’s go back to our chocolate analogy. There is a famous line from Forest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. I kind of get what this expression is trying to say, but there’s something about it that’s always bothered me. Often, when you open up a box of chocolates, you know exactly which one’s which. The chocolate orange ones are always wrapped in orange. The strawberry creams are nearly always red. This isn’t a game of guess the jelly bean flavour. The manufacturers want to make it as easy as possible for you to eat the chocolates you like!
For adventurers and bloggers it should be the same. Work out what it is you want to be know for, what your important characteristics are. Chocolate orange or praline? Watersports or bicycles?
P.S. Did you see The 3 Biggest Email Newsletter Mistakes I See + How To Avoid Them?
What Constitutes an Adventurer’s Brand?
Once you’ve worked out what your most important traits are (some people call this a niche) you’re going to have to demonstrate them somehow. No one wants to be guessing what you stand for. The more obvious you can make it, the easier it’ll be for people who want you to find you.
Let’s take a couple of well known adventurers and look at their brands.
1. Alastair Humphreys
The front page of your website is your home on the internet. If someone clicks on it, they should instantly get a vibe of what you’re like and about. This is your packaging.
Alastair’s homepage seems to be going for clean and minimalist, with stand-out images. He has his name front and centre with a slogan “living adventurously” so you know exactly what he’s about. Notice he could have said “Writer, Speaker, Adventurer…” but has chosen something simpler and relatable. (If you haven’t heard of Simon Sinek, go watch this video to understand how important it is to start with why not what.)
The other thing I notice is that large picture in the middle of Al’s face. That also happens to be the picture on the front of his most famous book: Microadventures. Humans are designed to remember faces. You will recognise him.
Either side, the two other pictures tell me he’s into everything from extreme to simple adventure.
2. Anna McNuff
Now let’s take a look at Anna. Her page looks quite different, but also tells us a lot about her. The page is busier, bright and colourful – just like Anna’s personality. Again, she makes it very clear who she is (name front and centre) and also includes a why: “On a mission to find the limit of my own potential, I’m hoping to help you unlock yours too.”
But, the next line is even more telling. She could have said, “Let’s go” or “Take a look” or “Enjoy”. Instead, she says “Let’s dance”. She’s personable, chatty and up for a bit of fun – as a “mischief maker”. Choice of language can tell you a whole lot about personality. [Not convinced? Compare the words on Innocent juice packaging to Tropicana.]
Alongside this, she’s also keen to build her credibility as an adventurer. The places she’s featured on the left and her bestselling book on the right.
How Can I Build My Adventure Brand?
Rule number 1: don’t copy these examples. Sure, you can learn from them, but you do not have to go and reformat your webpage to imitate these. If you do, you’ll be giving out their branding, not yours. Branding, as you now know, is as much about look and feel as words and colours. It needs to represent you and that often means playing and tweaking it until it fits.
Okay, this blog post is getting pretty long, but I’ve got one last offer for help. Want a cheat sheet to see what I’d consider if I was helping you define your brand? Get it in the box below.
To get it, pop your email address into the box below and I’ll send you the password to the free resources page.