Success is built by your brand
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” No matter the size of your business, your customers are going to talk about you. Developing a good brand helps you take control of that discussion. But, the concept of what a brand actually is has become increasingly convoluted. It’s difficult to define, and hard to pin down with just one definition.
Defining a brand
The trouble that many business leaders face with branding is that it’s intangible, but can have a great many tangible benefits to your bottom-line. Depending on what definition you follow, a brand could be anything from “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes” (David Ogilvy) or “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization” (The Dictionary of Brand). Some common themes do exist with all definitions: branding is more than developing a logo. It’s about the gut feeling that a customer gets when they see your product, service, and organization.
A strong brand drives your business forward
Defining your brand and understanding how it impacts your business is an important step. It guides both your brand and business forward. Identifying what makes your brand unique, uncovers what makes your business unique as well. It allows you to build a marketing strategy that aligns with your brand. In doing so, you unlock the full potential of your brand.
A strong brand isn’t about your business’ logo, products, or corporate colours. It goes beyond what your company looks like. Good branding increases the value of an organisation. It provides direction and a sense of identity for your employees. Having a well-known brand can make attracting customers much easier.
Branding is often neglected
Yet, many small businesses and start-ups neglect their branding. They don’t invest the necessary time and resources to develop their brand fully. Instead, they focus on delivering short-term financial results which are measurable. The intangible results offered by branding simply don’t stack up in the short-term.
Because of this, small business owners view branding as a light, tick-box type activity. They believe that a logo, a range of products, an adequate website, some social media accounts and a YouTube channel is enough to build their brand. But it isn’t.
For everyday small business opportunities, this tactic can work. But, if you want your business to scale, to expand globally, and to compete in a saturated market, then a strong brand is needed.
Branding: just do it
The iconic shoe brand Nike started its existence on the track fields in Washington. Founded by runner Phil Knight, and coach Bill Bowerman, it was originally called Blue Ribbon Sports. A name, I think you’d agree, that would never catch on.
The Nike logo and “Just Do It” tagline is now recognised all over the world. But the Nike brand is built on more than just that. It sells a lifestyle. Taking the time to develop a strong and clear brand vision, strategy and tactics is the only thing that’s stopping you from becoming the next Apple or Nike.
How to create a strong brand
There are a couple of steps you can do to achieve this:
Know your audience: To become the next Nike in your industry, you need to identify what drives your customers to purchase. Tap into their mindset, discover what they desire, and build your brand identity around that.
Mind the gap: Understand your brand gap. This is the cognitive dissonance between your image and profile. Having this information allows you to bridge the gap with your branding.
Recognise who your business is and why your customers should care. What’s your brand purpose? What makes your brand stand out and what’s your company story? Do you even have a story? There are many questions to ask yourself when building your brand.
Tell your brand’s story: Storytelling is vital to a good brand. It’s an artform and can make all the difference between a good brand from the best.
Gather around a bonfire: Stories have been told for generations. People would gather around open fires to share great stories and pass these on to their children. A good story stands the test of time.
Create a movement: Define a common ground. Connect with your customers through storytelling. Create a common purpose or mission. The shoe brand TOMS was founded on the principle that for every pair of shoes sold, another pair would go to a child in need. It’s now expanded to eyewear, coffee, and bags.
Lead a tribe: Customers are your best salespeople. Fostering a passion amongst your customers means that they’ll follow you through thick and thin. It will also define your brand and what your company stands for. It’s the ultimate way to bring your story – and brand- to life.
Of course, with leadership comes great responsibility. There’s a ton of advice available on how to become a great leader. In short, make sure you present yourself in the best way possible. Focus on your strengths, your unique selling points, and your business’ characteristics. Make sure you keep everything real and honest. Being false will turn your customers off your brand instantly.
The many benefits of good branding
There are many good reasons to build a brand. Don’t be tempted to rush through it. With so much at stake, it’s important to think through your brand identity fully.
Having a strong brand will pay off in the long-run. It makes your business more recognisable, fosters trust between your customers and company, and makes it easier to develop your product lines. Your branding will support your advertising, making it more cost-effective to advertise and with greater return-on-investment. It can build your financial reach, inspire and drive your employees, and ultimately will generate new customers.
If you want to get ahead of your competitors and guarantee long-term growth, build a strong brand. It’s the foundation to everything else.
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