Notice the countless female entrepreneurs, fashion bloggers, business leaders, and glossy websites geared towards women in the high-stakes startup space?
From marketing maven Marie Forleo of B-School, to fashion mogul Tory Burch and her goal to empower women entrepreneurs through the Tory Burch Foundation, to author and motivational speaker Danielle LaPorte and resources like Claudia Chan, Project Eve, and She Takes on the World—all valuable destinations for women in business, it’s pretty clear that women entrepreneurs are achieving great things.
So, what are the insider-secrets that have propelled these women and the brands they’ve created to notoriety? If you’re creating a brand that targets women, here are five branding strategies you’ll need in order to market to millennial women.
1. Brand with aesthetics and visual appeal.
Many business experts will tell their clients to create a fast (read: ugly) sales-page to “test” the waters, and include big yellow “buy now” buttons with a half-dozen arrows pointing around the buy box. “Oh, and don’t worry about making it look good,” they add.
I cringe whenever I hear this.
Millennial women are attracted to beauty, and we look to create beauty in our surroundings. Naturally, we want products, services, and offerings that we bring to market to look and feel professional, not something that is cheap, outdated, and salesy.
This is why paying attention to your visual branding strategy is so crucial. Visual branding includes not only the basics such as your company website, logo, color palette, font pairings, appropriate imagery and filters, but also all the external “touchpoints” where a person experiences your brand (think: email correspondences, your storytelling, even how you present yourself at conferences and events).
Takeaway: How your present your brand to the world will affect your bottom line, not to mention your online reputation. Take it seriously and make the investment early-on in the build process to get it right.
2. Incorporate your personality.
Multi-passionate entrepreneur Marie Forleo is the perfect example of someone who brilliantly infuses various parts of her personality into her brand empire. From her dance background, to her quirky sense of humor, a love for hip-hop, and yes, even her spirituality, she injects her entire personality into everything she does. Just watch any of her MarieTV episodes to see her in action.
Take another example, Tory Burch. The self-made $3 billion-dollar fashion entrepreneur built a fashion and lifestyle business by creating stylish, ready-to-wear clothing.
But the real secret to Tory’s brand success is her ability to infuse bits and pieces of her own personality into her storytelling so that women can feel connected to her. She uses multiple social platforms to extend her persona: Tory Daily to feature lifestyle pieces ranging from music to home entertaining, her Instagram feed to post silly bug eyes from a recent jet leg experience, and business tips from her Tory Burch Foundation. All of this works to create connection, so women can engage with her brand in different ways and find her relatable.
Takeaway: If you are the face of your company, remember your brand is you. The two are intrinsically linked. Take the time to inventory your interests outside of your business – these components will become the building blocks of your personal brand. The goal here is to storytell in a way that truly represents your personal tastes, interests, lifestyle, and values.
3. Be inspirational.
If you want your brand to succeed, make it inspirational. This generation of Millenials believe they can change the world a la Facebook. They’re thinking big, optimistic of the future, and are looking to be inspired.
A great example of a personal brand that’s done this right is female entrepreneur Danielle LaPorte. Part compassionate coach, part hilarious best friend, Danielle’s one-of-a-kind perspective is all about unguarded authenticity. Sure! She’s also a notable author and a motivational speaker, but what’s really remarkable is the way she aims to inspire people.
Takeaway: Think of your brand as a movement and work to build a platform for realizing your customers’ aspirations. The goal here is to align your product or service with a bigger idea that transcends any single transaction.
4. Create an emotional connection.
In today’s schizophrenic digital world, the most successful brands are the ones that make an emotional connection with their audience. The top players use their passion, personality, and personal brand story to communicate with their target audience. This includes online social engagement, offering advice, telling stories, and showing genuine interest in what their customers have to say.
Women, in particular, look for extra emotional reasons for why they should care about a brand based on it caring about them, and the causes that matter to them.
Takeaway: Find a way to connect to your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Make them feel like they are part of a larger community. Use emotional triggers to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.
5. Social good matters.
There is a strong connection between entrepreneurship and social responsibility. When women start businesses, they are more likely to design businesses that: have a social mission, give back to community, and support sustainability.
If your business or brand doesn’t stand for a cause, your target clientele may turn to your competitors. The challenge is to make your socially responsible efforts a winning proposition for the nonprofit group you support as well as your business.
Claudia Chan, the founder of S.H.E. Summit and CEO of S.H.E. Globl Media Inc. is a great example of someone who does this right. A media entrepreneur and motivational women’s lifestyle expert, she supports various organizations that are aligned with her business mission including NEST, ShestheFirst, and FACE Africa. Claudia also actively participates in her local business community including Stern Women in Business, the NY Times Small Business Summit, and the Women’s Small Business Expo, to name a few.
Takeaway: Give from the heart. Cause marketing works best when you and your employees believe in the nonprofit group so work with an organization you believe in. For businesses in the startup phase, remember that you can do more than simply writing a check such as donating products or provide complimentary services.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Catherine Suh is a strategic advisor, attorney, and media entrepreneur with marketing and branding expertise. She is the Founder and CEO of BLANCERA, an impact-driven brand strategy firm that helps innovative entrepreneurs, creative professionals, and early-stage companies develop powerful visionary brands. Catherine has a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from Cornell Law School.
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