There’s a reason I named my newsletter For The Interested.
The name is no accident — it’s a reminder the newsletter exists to provide value to my AUDIENCE and is born of a core belief about how meaningful brands are built.
A brand doesn’t attract an audience, a brand IS its audience.
No matter how flashy your logo, how your product performs, or what clever marketing tactics you employ, your brand will ultimately be determined not by what it is, but by WHO it attracts.
Your Brand Stands For What Your Audience Stands For
You may think your product or content does one thing, but it’s your audience who decides what it actually does.
I created a newsletter to inspire people to take action, offer them insights on how to better their work or life, and be a useful resource to people who actively try to improve themselves.
But my brand only represents those things if it attracts an audience who actually does them.
If readers don’t find my newsletter actionable, aren’t inspired by the information I share, and don’t use it to improve their lives, then my brand isn’t what I think it is.
If For The Interested attracts an audience who believes more in excuses than possibility, then my brand isn’t what I say it is — no matter how catchy the tagline.
Your Brand’s First Impression Is The One Your Audience Makes
Social media has changed everything when it comes to branding, but not in the way you may think.
Brands spends lots of time and money to ensure they’ve got the perfect Instagram profile or tweets that showcase their clever brand voice, but they often overlook what truly creates a brand’s first impression — its audience.
When somebody first encounters a brand on social media, they judge it based on its audience as much (or more) than they do its own content.
They will look to see who follows you (not just how many followers you have which is an overrated metric), who talks about you, and who identifies with you and what you do.
Newbies will try to determine whether the audience that supports a brand are the kind of people they want to associate with and that carries more weight regarding what a brand means than any marketing message it comes up with.
As Seth Godin says, when people consider whether a brand is for them, they have this in the back of their mind:
“People like us, do things like this.”
Your Brand’s Community Sets Its Standards
One of the things I’m most proud of with For The Interested is the community that’s evolved around it.
It’s full of positive, optimistic, smart, curious, and genuinely helpful people.
For example, the For The Interested Facebook group has never had any problems with trolls, negativity, or haters because the audience from the very beginning set standards of behavior that define not only what’s acceptable, but the brand itself.
The opposite can also be true. If a brand’s audience behaves in a combative, selfish, shady, or negative way, then that reflects on the brand.
A brand’s community models the behavior it expects and newcomers to the brand rise or fall to meet those expectations. In doing so, they define not only the community’s standards, but those of the brand as a whole.
No brand can be positive when its community is negative.
The Words That Drive Word Of Mouth About Your Brand Will Be Chosen By Your Audience
As a brand expands, its growth is largely driven by its audience.
No matter how masterfully you craft your brand message or position yourself in the market, your audience define it for itself when spreading the word about it to others.
The words your audience uses to describe your brand matter more than the words you use.
I’ve been lucky with For The Interested because while my audience may not use the words I’ve chosen to describe the brand, the language they choose has been every bit as good (and maybe even better).
While I describe the newsletter as offering “actionable ideas to help you become better at your work, art, and life,” my readers say things like this:
Always love taking a look at For the Interested's weekly newsletter – there's always a nugget or two to reflect on and learn from. @ftinterested #learning #growth https://t.co/aX0zFMjf8c
— Working The Future (@workingfuture1) February 18, 2018
You’ll never fully control how your brand is talked about, but if you recognize your brand IS your audience then you can take steps to ensure you give yourself the best chance to create a brand that means what you want it to mean.
What’s the best way to do that? Never forget who your brand is for.
image via Adam Whitlock