Your brand is your most valuable asset and needs to be treated as such. If you don’t manage your own brand, someone else will. Needless to say, not everyone has your best interests in mind and those that do may not have a truly accurate understanding of your brand and/or your goals. This becomes increasingly important in situations which are time constrained – introductions, meetings, networking events and the like.
Building a solid brand based on authenticity and clarity is the best way to maximize both the short-term and long-term results of your branding efforts. My advice to anyone interested in branding their business, or themselves, is to first make certain that they know what branding is (and isn’t), what it can (and cannot) do for you and your business. A logo is not a brand. A catchy saying is not a brand. Your brand is your value proposition, your promise to the public, your reputation…in short your brand is the intangible sum of your attributes. Your brand should result in an emotional connection with your customers which moves them to engage with your business.
If you’re building a new brand (or re-branding an existing one) my very top line advice can be summarized in three words
Purpose – Perspective – Patience
What is the purpose of your branding? Know your ‘why’ and know your objective(s). Who do you serve – and how? What is the emotional connection you’re attempting to achieve to establish that all important connection to your target customer? If you are re-branding, focus on what is, as well as what isn’t currently working for you. I recommend to my clients that they engage in what I call a Branding Breakout (brand audit) as a first step. Think of this as a ‘balance sheet’ for your brand which begins to identify your assets and liabilities as well as your brand equity. Seek fresh perspective from people that you trust and that are knowledgeable about branding and marketing.
I often use the phrase ‘Move the Flashlight” which means to look at what’s ‘there’ in a different light or perspective. When we are used to seeing something one way it is very beneficial to review it in a different light, especially from a qualified expert. This is especially true with a new venture which is driven by an idea or an ideal. Often times new businesses fail to be open to adapting and adjusting to allow their idea, product or service to meet the needs of the market. If you’re attempting to have the market fit your vision, you have a very low chance of success.
Lastly, have patience. Branding is a process. Take the time to make certain that the brand you are building (or if re-branding that the changes you are looking to make) truly reflects what is best for your business. All too often businesses are reactive without taking a look at the long-term ramifications of what it is they are proposing to build or change. Branding is not a race. Rather it should be a methodical, intelligent approach to your business which will guarantee you more success as you move into the future.
Purpose, perspective and patience. Three words to keep in mind as you work to discover the power of your brand.
(note: The basis of this blog is an article I wrote for the Missouri Venture Forum March newsletter. Take a look as there’s a great deal of wonderful content.)