As entrepreneurs, we’ve been through a lot and continue to face some unique challenges. The needs of people have changed. Trends have come and gone. The way we do business has, on a large scale, shifted to the virtual world.
Don’t let that scare you off from launching your business brand. With times of change come unique opportunities to make your mark on the brave new world. Because it isn’t just about building a brand — it’s about building an unforgettable brand.
Over my years as an entrepreneur, working in multiple arenas that require multiple skillsets, these are the five brand-building must-dos that I keep coming back to.
For an entrepreneur, the first step to building a brand is self-knowledge. We need to be keenly aware of what we can do, and what we can’t. We need to recognize what fuels us, what we’re fascinated by, what we’re motivated to pursue.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again — an aspiring entrepreneur starts a business because it’s “a good idea,” but doesn’t have the emotional investment to see it through. It’s far too easy to get bored with a company that you have no connection to.
When considering new ventures, I always take the time to consider whether the venture in question aligns with my goals, my values, and my interests. It needs to have all three before I will invest my time.
We’ve all heard of the “purpose-driven life” concept — making decisions based on a long-term goal, on established values, rather than just what seems good at the time. Well, business isn’t really any different.
Purpose-driven, in this context, is about always knowing the next step. Before launching a brand, we need to know the underlying purpose of what we’re providing. Clarity of purpose is a huge motivational factor in not only starting to build a brand but continuing the process all the way through to success.
Set goals from the very first concept meeting, both short-term and long-term. Always think about the next step and how accomplishing each goal will contribute to the brand as a whole.
Exceed the competition
Competition is healthy. The mere fact that you have competitors in your chosen arena shouldn’t make you shrink back. But there’s a caution with that — running blindly into the ring without knowing what your competitors offer to the target audience won’t get you very far.
I’ve found that the trick is to assume that there will be tough competition, but also assume that there is an angle that puts me ahead of the game. There’s always some feature or detail that can be done better, whether it’s making sure that I’m keeping up with brands adapted to the new normal by going virtual or just ensuring the best customer service around. Nothing is perfect; there’s always something that can be improved on, and that’s what gets a brand noticed. That’s what helps you gain influence over the market.
Related: Get to know your competition
Market to the individual, not to the masses
When it comes to brand building, it’s hard not to just look at the big picture. Analytics and algorithms, rankings and relevancy, shares and stars. While those are important when it comes to actually creating a connection with the audience, the personal touch matters.
Marketing to the individual makes marketing to the masses possible.
Why do I say that? Well, consider the fact that word of mouth is still one of the most influential marketing tools. People are more likely to listen to a friend who tried a product than they are to an advertisement, and they’re more likely to follow the suggestions of an influencer they like than they are to try out a brand they have no previous experience with. Social proof isn’t built by spamming your audience; it’s built by making connections with the individual.
My favorite method of doing this is interacting with my audience on social media. Every comment deserves a response. Every like deserves a thank you. Every share deserves acknowledgment. Building an influential brand is about putting a face to the faceless; approachability and friendliness go a long way to elevating how your audience feels about you on a personal level.
Be the best at what you do — now and always
My final step for building a brand that makes an impact: excel, excel, excel.
People talk about brands they like. They talk about brands that meet their expectations. They talk about brands that do what they’re supposed to.
But they talk more about brands they love, brands that exceed their expectations, and that make good on their promises and then some.
Being the best at what you do is the core concept for building a brand that influences the choices that people make. It requires innovation, adaptation, and imagination — always changing, always moving, always dreaming.
Is that a high bar to set? Sure. But it is reachable? Yes. If you’ve got the motivation, the passion, and the know-how, you can turn your brand into a touchstone for your audience, and make your mark on your market.