This story originally appeared on Ellevate
I founded a co-working space and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. There are thousands of co-working spaces around the world and there are dozens that cater to this same demographic, so in order to remain competitive, each of us must set ourselves apart.
My company, Hera Hub, boasts a unique business model. Our spaces are equipped with a spa-inspired design and tailor-made benefits that give us a competitive advantage. On its face, this is not entirely novel. Many of our competitors offer a somewhat similar hook — aesthetically-appealing office spaces that give members the tools they need to succeed. But what really sets us apart is our brand.
My company’s name, colors, spa-inspired approach and team cannot be replicated. We have worked hard to customize the co-working experience, and our brand is what makes us memorable — it’s meaningful, specific and screams individuality.
My experience in business and marketing led me to my passion for branding, and in the current climate, this passion has become a necessity. Developing an impactful brand is make-or-break. It’s what will help your company gain new customers, and most importantly, it’s what will keep them coming back. For those of you in the beginning stages of your business or on the verge of a rebrand, here are four tips to help you develop a memorable and sustainable brand.
1. No meaning = no story
Your brand should mean something to you. It’s the face of your company and the metric the public will measure you by. Your business’s name should represent a metaphor, symbol, word or emotion that evokes a story, memory or meaning.
A name with substance is more valuable than one that’s catchy. Your name should have a story behind it. Great marketers don’t simply share brands, they sell stories. As this Entrepreneur article explains, “Story is how we connect with one another.”
Wonder why emerging social networking sites are so popular? The answer is that people crave the powerful emotional connection that comes through telling a story. There’s a story behind everything, so use your brand to tell it.
2. What’s in a name? Everything.
Your business’s name should reveal what you do and how you do it. Short and succinct is always best, as argued by Forbes contributor Marianne Bickle:
“Think about the speed in which you drive past a business, click through a webpage, or walk down a street. Customers need to be able to read your company sign in a matter of seconds (not minutes).”
While Hera Hub isn’t exactly a revealing name, our tagline, elevator pitch and content enable users and customers to understand exactly what we do. If your business’s name doesn’t reveal what you do in the title, be sure to back it up with powerful and clear language that communicates what you do and what makes you unique.
2. Your business isn’t all about you.
This might be difficult for those in the consulting business, but a well-rounded brand (and business) shouldn’t center solely around its founder. What is the ultimate goal of your business? If it’s to one day sell it, pass it down or hire additional support, try to build your brand around what you offer, how you serve your customers and what sets you apart instead of making it all about you. While your personality and skill set are integral parts of your business, you can’t be all of it.
4. Why are you doing this?
When building your brand, it’s crucial that you remember your purpose and tie everything to that. I am a proponent of Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. In it, he says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” The answer to this question of “Why?” communicates to customers, partners and the market the reason your business is a contender. The “Why?” is what inspires me to keep building, working and growing. Your business supports a bigger purpose; don’t lose sight of what that calling is.
I also recommend Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, to help make your brand memorable and remarkable. Your brand sets you apart, and your advantage is in the details. Make sure these details communicate depth. It takes consistency and years to build strong brand recognition, but remember: Every tweet, word and interaction is an opportunity to spread the message of your work and business.
(By Felena Hanson. Hanson is the founder of Hera Hub, a spa-inspired shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs. She is the author of Flight Club — Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business.)