Lots of people talk about how important it is to create a brand for your business. But very few people do a good job of explaining what a brand actually is or how to create one.
“No matter what you do, people will put you in a box. If you brand yourself effectively, you get to pick the box.” —Naomi Dunford
Most people think of a brand as the visual materials (logo, ads, packaging, etc.) that represent a company, but it’s much more than that.
The simplest explanation is that a brand is a company’s image, personality, style, and reputation. It’s what the public thinks about your company.
Your visual materials contribute to this, but so does your customer service, advertising, what you say on social media, how you handle mistakes, and how you respond to unsatisfied customers.
“A brand is the words, images, thoughts and feelings that come to mind when someone thinks about you, or interacts with you or your business in some way. It is actually the real estate about you in someone else’s heart and mind, and you don’t have complete control over it. To be clear: your brand only exists in other people’s minds.
Branding is what you do to affect this real estate. It’s all of the associations you create to develop the words, images, thoughts and feelings that people have about you. Branding is everything you do to create your brand. From your business cards, website and logo, to the clothes you wear, how you speak, how you treat others, and all of the products and services you create in your business.”
—Liz Dennery Sanders in a guest post on Productive Flourishing.
So how do you do it? How do you develop a brand?
Creating A Brand
There are many different approaches to creating a brand and combining multiple approaches can be very powerful. Here are a few you can try.
Top Three Characteristics
One of the easiest ways to get started with branding is to figure out the top three words that describe how you want people to see your business. Do you want to be seen as friendly, fun, and helpful? Or high tech, sleek, and mysterious? Maybe you want people to see your business as bold, loud, and confident.
Here is a great free download from Tea Silvestre that can help you find your top three characteristics: Branding Exercise by Tea Silvestre (Tea’s also got a bunch of helpful posts about branding here: http://thewordchef.com/branding-everything-you-need-to-know/ )
Personality Based Branding
A personality based brand is exactly what it sounds like – a brand based on your personality/who you are.
A lot of the time, some aspects of the person’s personality (often their strongest traits, traits they think will create a strong brand, and sometimes traits they wish were stronger for them) are somewhat exaggerated/enlarged.
It’s best to exaggerate parts of your personality that are actually strong traits for you.
Exaggerating things that are not actually strong for you could lead to your business self becoming a carefully crafted “character” instead of an enhanced reflection of who you really are.
This approach is pretty much the same as the top three characteristics exercise, except it focuses on values. You consider things like honesty, compassion, loyalty, freedom, and decide which ones are most important to your business.
Here is a long list of values to get you started: http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/list-of-values.htm
You may also want to check out this post on Voice Values by Abby Kerr: http://abbykerr.com/how-to-use-voice-values/
The 16 Voice Values are:
Elements Of A Brand
This approach comes from Branding Elements: How to Become a Superhero by Naomi Dunford of ittybiz.com.
The elements of a brand are:
1. Core Strength―what you do.
2. Weakness―the thing you deliberately & consciously do “wrong.” (Generally small flaws, swearing, smoking, etc.) If you don’t choose this & make it loud, people will choose it for you.
3. A Peccadillo―something weird about you that is noticeably off-brand.
4. A Talisman―the thing that takes the focus off of you. (This can be an object, a pet, a sports team, etc.)
Hopefully this article has helped you understand what a brand actually is, and helped you figure out how to begin creating a brand for your business. If you found it helpful, please share it with your fellow entrepreneurs.