First you build your brand, then your brand builds you
By Kim Schlossberg, Andersen Alumnus Marketing Manager 1992-2002 and owner of Kim Schlossberg Designs
I bet you didn’t start your venture to be just
like everyone else. You have something special to say, and your own way of
doing your work. You have your unique reasons that you’re doing what you’re
doing. The world needs to know about you! It’s your brand’s job to show the
world what sets you apart from the crowd. Whether you’re running a business or
non-profit, working for someone else, or establishing yourself as a thought
leader, you can manage your brand, so it does this job and brings you ever
closer to your goals. Creating and consistently living your own brand is
critical to your success and enjoyment in your business and your life.
What is a brand?
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Where does that leave us? Do we just passively wait for the public to tell us who we are? Who our company is? No, of course not. It’s up to us to decide what we want our brand to be. Maybe, to uncover what it must be. And then, everything we do – everything – needs to support that.
First You Build Your Brand – then Your Brand Builds You.
So, who has a brand? Who needs a brand? We always have a brand, both as individuals and as organizations. You either have an intentional brand or an unintentional brand. If you don’t focus on defining your brand, and keeping it healthy, you have an unintentional brand, and other people (customers, competitors) get to define it for you. You might find yourself fielding calls from potential customers who are not a good fit for your business for one reason or another. Or you might have disappointed customers who were looking for something other than what you offer. Or, you might have a bad reputation problem like Blue Bell has experienced. Or Uber, or countless other scandal-ridden companies.
But if you have a healthy, intentional brand, you’ll attract the right people – those who want what you are offering. People who will pay well for your solutions to their problems. They will find you. People will refer them to you. Everything you put out about your company – or yourself – will attract them.
First you build an intentional brand
To establish a powerful, effective brand, you need to thoroughly understand and communicate the unique characteristics that make your organization’s brand promise. It’s critical for everyone involved in the organization to understand the foundation of the brand – the brand character.
Our brand-building process is basically the same whether you’re running a major corporation, a small- or mid-sized business, a non-profit, or your own thought leadership practice. The primary difference is the number of people involved, and the research you can and should do.
We begin with walking clients through a discovery process to find what is really at the core, the heart of their business. I usually do this in a workshop format to help our clients get to the heart of their brands. Parts of this are my interpretation of Donald Miller’s Story-Brand framework. This framework positions the customer as the hero and us (the service providers) as the guide who has a plan and helps the hero (the customer) succeed.
As a result of the workshops, we will discover your brand promise and Your Ideal Brand, on which all of your future marketing and communication activities should be based. This forms the foundation of the later branding work, and of the organization’s identity. If you’re working with an outside branding, graphic design, or marketing firm, they might help you answer these questions. At the very least, they should want to know your answers.
Then your brand builds you
When people outside your organization look at your website, engage with you on social media, or walk into your place of business, what is their first impression of who you are, what you do, and why? A healthy brand is clear, consistent, and guides all the organization’s decisions. With a healthy brand, your public – and your employees – will know exactly what you do, and how they can count on you to do it, every time.
Companies get in trouble when they act in ways counter to the brand promise. Sometimes they try to do too much for too many people and fall short. Sometimes they get confused and muddle their message. Sometimes their brand promise is just too big – too hard to maintain.
Maintaining a healthy brand is very simple, and very difficult. Anytime someone in your organization has to make a decision – whether to launch a new product, hire a new person, clean the ice cream machine, or even decide to return a phone call, look to the brand. What does the brand tell you to do? Does it tell you to be friendly? Driven? Not evil? If the brand is clear enough, you will know what to do.
During the second phase of our Brand Therapy process, we review how the public sees your brand. We take a deep dive and review everything we can from and about the business, with a fresh, objective pair of eyes. We compile our findings into a report called “How the World Sees You.”
Finally, we compare these two views of your organization. How consistent are they? Are there opportunities to pull what people see about your organization more into alignment with your vision of your brand?
We help uncover any inconsistencies or gaps, and point them out, so you can correct them. If desired, we recommend action steps and can help you implement them to create and execute a plan to make your brand more clear, consistent, and true to your goals and vision. Together, we can ensure that the public sees your organization as you want them to.
Branding gives you the opportunity to portray your organization in its own best image. You can take charge of your brand and decide who you want to be, and present that face to the world. It’s up to you to clearly and consistently be that brand in everything you do. Presenting a genuine, authentic brand will help build a business you love while attracting your ideal audience.
First You Build the Brand, then the Brand Builds You.
I’d be happy to help you dive deep and truly understand and build your unique, ideal brand, and then let that brand help you build the business of your dreams. Schedule a free no-obligation 15-minute introductory call to see if it might be a good fit!