In boardrooms, kitchens and cafes across the nation, people are building great businesses. And inevitably, they must ask themselves the following questions (hopefully sooner rather than later): what’s my brand? How do you put a brand together? How do you know you’re on the right track? Why the heck is a brand so important anyway? And what if I’m selling something intangible like success coaching?
There are many ways to look at the process of branding, with interesting points to consider from all the marketing gurus. You can, for example, think long and hard about your target market or ideal customer, and imagine what they would like to see in a brand. You can do extensive research about what these people resonate with, what problems they have that need solving, colors they love and what kind of cocktails they drink. All of this can help. And I’d recommend doing market research like this.
But my real advice for the foundation on which to build a brand comes down to this: what are YOUR values? Figure that out, and you’ve got a rock-solid identity to build a business around. One that won’t shift with the ever-changing tides of the fickle marketplace. One that you will never grow weary of, because it can grow and evolve along with you.
Lest you should think I’m being airy-fairy and idealistic, let me assure you that I have been very carefully, intentionally crafting my businesses around my values, and I know for a fact that this strategy has been absolutely critical to my sense of success. It’s what keeps my employees happily engaged, and countless job applicants lined up for every position I need to fill. It’s what keeps customers coming back for more, and telling their friends. It’s the reason I feel I have support from my community, meaning I know whenever I build something new, I can rely on my reputation to attract other like minded people.
Values have become a commodity, with companies trying to buy and sell them. They’ve been co-opted by marketing firms and used to sell everything from real estate to high heels. So if you’re wary of using trendy terms which may sound meaningless, like “eco-friendly” or “deliverables”, I hear you. But forget about companies that don’t practice what they preach. Look at businesses and entrepreneurs you admire, and figure out exactly what it is that you love about them. Are they innovative? Exclusive? Philanthropic? Edgy?
Community is important to me, so I sponsor a lot of local events, kids athletics and fund raisers that mean something to myself or my crew. Inspiring the leaders of tomorrow is part of my life’s mission, so I put everything I can into training my staff and setting them up for success in the world. Health and wellness are my personal passions, so I chose to build a business that sells healthy food and beverages. Kindness and generosity are core values of mine, leading me to initiate a 22 Days of Kindness campaign that at a local level, meant my business name became synonymous with kindness.
Look around you:
This exercise is all about getting at the heart of what truly matters to you. Don’t simply jump on board with a cause or concept that sounds admirable. The clearer you are on your core values, the more you can infuse your business with them and create a living, breathing entity that reflects the very best and brightest parts of you. And that is what people will connect with. That is what will keep them coming back for more. It’s what will make your brand, and your business irresistible. And at the end of the day, what will lend to your own personal sense of contribution and true success.