How to Boost Your Brand
Sure you may have a business but do you have a B R A N D? Branding is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot and is one of those business things that you know you need but don’t know exactly how to go about it. That reason is that a business’ brand is not something that is concrete, it’s not necessarily something that is seen, rather, it is something that is felt. In today’s post I’m going to focus on what is branding. Stay tuned for next week’s post where I’ll dive in to how you can boost your brand.
What is Branding?
As Seth Godin puts it, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
What makes up a brand is a mix of messaging, positioning, purpose, and the visuals. Note that your logo, your brand identity, and overall visual aesthetic do not make your brand. Although having a good brand identity is extremely important and can also help attract the right customers, it is only one piece of the puzzle. Your followers might like your logo but what’s more important is that they fall in love with your brand.
We all have a brand. Our businesses have brands and we ourselves have personal brands. Everyday we are establishing our brand and crafting our reputation. A brand is built from our everyday actions, the things we say on social media, the products and services we sell, the price point that we sell them at, the way we answer our customer’s calls, the way we respond to global events, the way our packaging looks, the way our website looks, and much much more. You can see now why building a strong brand takes time and is done so through small actions collected over a long period of time.
What Makes a Strong Brand?
A strong brand is a brand whose message is clear. There is no confusion about what they do, who the serve, and why they do it. Strong brands put importance to not only their services or products (functional benefits) but they also focus on the emotional benefits. Strong brands create a culture around them. Strong brands are consistent. They don’t chase trends, they make their own and always stay true to who they are as a brand. Though they might change their products as the market changes, they stay true to their brand values and are consistent in those values. The fact that strong brands are consistent is part of why people are drawn to them. Strong brands are leaders in their field. What makes a strong brand also involves being unique because no two brands are alike. The more you focus on what makes you different from your competitors or peers, the stronger your brand becomes. A strong brand also has a loyal group of followers or a tribe.
Taking these definitions into account what are some brands that come to mind? Some brands that come to my mind are of course the usual suspects: Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola. But as a small business and creative entrepreneur those big brands don’t have a lot in common with my business model or my niche. So what are some brands within my niche that have created strong brands? Some LA-based brands that come to mind are: Create Cultivate, Bunch Mag, and Design Love Fest. What are some businesses or people within your own niche that you feel have strong brands?
Why is Branding Important?
Having a brand can help your business succeed in a number of ways. It can help you not only attract your ideal customer but also create customer loyalty, it can help you stand out from the crowd, and you can leverage your brand loyalty when you introduce a new channel of your business or service. When Shonda Rhimes wrote her recent book, Year of Yes, you better believe that her brand played in a role in the sales of that book. If she didn’t have a strong brand and a loyal group of followers her book probably wouldn’t have had the same positive reception. She was able to use her brand as leverage and delve into a new form of storytelling.
But beyond helping you make sales, branding is important because it builds trust and credibility, it creates a meaningful connections between your company and your customer, and it serves as your compass. Your brand is the foundation of your business. Without a brand, and more specifically, brand values you will find yourself chasing after every trend, trying every marketing scheme and copying every other business without knowing what is a good fit for your business and your customers.
How Can you Improve Your Brand?
As mentioned above, creating a strong brand is something that is built over time through a series of actions. Everyday with every action you are building a brand. Whether you are building an intentional brand is a different story. Building a strong brand does not happen overnight so the sooner you start making branding a priority, the sooner you will begin to build a strong brand. I mentioned above the key components that make a strong brand: messaging, positioning, purpose/story, and the visuals. Take a look at these components within your business. Is there one that is lacking? You might have an amazing business with a clear message but maybe your website or brand identity is off. Or maybe you have the visuals down but your purpose and message is unclear and you’ve yet to position yourself within the market. Also keep in mind that a strong brand creates a culture around it by taking into account the emotional benefits it provides and not only the functional benefits. Evaluate each of these aspects and that will reveal which ones you need to focus on. In my next post I’m going to go more in detail on 5 ways you can boost your brand so stay tuned! If you have specific questions on how you can improve your own brand, please let me know in the comments below!
Also for all of you LA-based creative entrepreneurs I am teaching a branding workshop. We’ll dive deep into how to craft a brand that works for you and how to drive your business through branding. This is a hands-on, no bs workshop. So come ready to get your hands dirty and do some serious work on your brand all while sipping mimosas and collaborating with other creative entrepreneurs like you! Spots are limited so don’t wait! Register Here.