11 Things Great Brands Do
“I want my brand to MATTER to people! But how do I actually do that…?
When I started Hellohappen, I struggled with really knowing what the HECK to focus on!
I knew I wanted my brand to resonate with people and really matter to them, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. There was so much noise I couldn’t focus!
Everyone is different, and there are as many ways to grow your brand as there are people in the world.
But after learning about and working with dozens of brands over the years, I’ve found that the very best brands — business or personal — focus on doing these 11 things!
This is for you if:
You want to build more than a business — you want to build a BRAND that matters.
You want to attract people to your business based on who you are and what you believe — not how much noise you can make.
You’re feeling lost + overwhelmed by all the noise out there about how to build your brand.
You want to know what it’s REALLY gonna take to build your brand, so you can take action.
Here are 11 key things great brands do!
1. Focus on one person
Great brands aren’t for everyone, they’re for SOMEONE! They’re in business and in the world to help a certain kind of person become who they want to be, and get what they want to get.
The more a brand dilutes its message to appeal to everyone, the less relevant it becomes!
Take action: Picture the one person out there you most want to help, the person whose pain you can feel because you’ve been there. The person whose hopes + dreams excite you, because you feel the same way.
90% of the time, your person is a LOT like you, in a different situation - maybe they’re a few months behind you on their journey, and you can look back and really know what it feels like to be in their shoes.
Write one paragraph about this person, and then write 3 main ways you can help them get what they want!
2. Listen and ask questions
Great brands truly listen to their customers and their tribe. They aren’t just here to share their opinions and tell people what to think. They’re here to listen, engage, and be in dialogue with their people.
Are you going out of your way to learn from and hear from your audience? From the people you’re here to help? The number one way to get people to listen to you, is to listen to them first. Show that you care what they have to say, and what they’re thinking, and who they are, and what their struggle is. “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
3. Stand for something that matters
Great brands stand for something that truly matters, and invite the customer to join them.
We all gravitate toward brands that stand for something WE want to believe is possible, right, or true. We all want to embody a philosophy we agree with, and express our own identities through our actions... that includes our purchases and the people and brands we follow!
Take action: Write a paragraph about what YOU stand for, what you believe in, and what you want people to believe is possible, right, or true.
4. Tell a story about the customer
Great brands tell their customer a compelling STORY about what is possible for them. They cast the customer as the hero on a meaningful journey.
A great toothpaste brand says that buying toothpaste isn’t just about crossing one more chore off the list; it’s about the customer embracing her own self-worth, committing to showing up as her best self for all of life’s opportunities.
It seems silly, but this is a universal human experience… every action — even the toothpaste you buy — is a small chance to reaffirm your own story to the universe.
The next time you pay more than the bare minimum for a product — like the Caramel Macchiato Cloud you’re drinking at Starbucks — ask yourself why, deep down, you chose to pay a premium for it. What is the happy ending you were paying for?
Take action: Write a single paragraph telling the story you’re giving your audience. What story do they want to see themselves in? What is their lowest point? What’s their happy ending?
5. Keep it simple + straightforward
Great brands keep it simple!
They don’t try to be all things to all people, because that gets confusing really fast. They focus on being ONE thing, and solving ONE problem, for ONE person.
Then, if it makes sense, they scale up from there — while being extremely careful not to lose the thing people already love about them!
Take action: Fill in the blanks:
6. Repeat their message
Great brands aren’t afraid to repeat their message, because they know it’s worth repeating.
They have something to say, to stand for, and the more they repeat that message — in different ways, in different words, but always reinforcing the same idea — the more they “own” that idea in the minds of their customers.
Take action: Write down one key statement about what you believe that your brand should stand for, and that is worth repeating every day.
7. Show up consistently, every day
Great brands SHOW UP. They know that familiarity breeds liking, so the more they can be seen, the better.
They also know that their tribe — their biggest fans, their biggest advocates — are looking forward to seeing them.
Think about your favorite musician, the one who writes those lyrics that make you feel understood, less alone, the one who sees the world the way you do. What if that musician disappears suddenly! Their music stops playing in your favorite coffee shops, the years go by without a new EP, and you stop hearing their voice altogether. You’d miss them, right? The same is true of a great brand. It needs to show up for its people.
Take action: Who is your person? Where are they waiting for you? What do they need to hear today, from YOU?
8. Be genuine + authentic
Great brands are genuine + authentic. They don’t try to be like everyone else, and they stick to who they really are.
We can smell inauthenticity + deception from a mile away, so great brands know it’s important to be real, honest, and true.
Sometimes, we have to be vulnerable to really show confidence in our message, show that we care about our tribe, and that we’re willing to be honest with the people we’re asking to trust us.
Take action: What is one thing you could open up about today, that would help + serve the people in your tribe?
9. Build community around an identity
Great brands build COMMUNITY around a shared identity. They make people feel like they belong and matter to someone. They give someone a home where they can be themselves and be liked.
We ALL want to belong, we all want to be with our people, the people who understand and accept us. It’s just our human nature!
Take action: Are you giving your people a way to connect with each other? How can you create a forum for real connections to happen?
10. Defy expectations
Great brands defy stereotypes, disrupt expectations, and do things in a way that’s refreshingly DIFFERENT from everyone else.
This is because our brains are attracted to things that are DIFFERENT. Things that disrupt the status quo.
And it’s not enough to be different — you want to be MEANINGFULLY different. You want to disrupt a pattern your customer wishes weren’t the case, and give her something else to believe in!
Take action: Think about something that annoys, frustrates, or wears out your dream clients on a daily basis. What is it? Then, imagine your brand disrupting that pattern for them by doing or saying something bold. What do you do or say?
11. Deliver on a promise
Great brands deliver on a promise. Their tribe knows what to expect from them, and they deliver it every time. When this brand speaks up, or shares an offer, or hosts and event, people know what to expect, and they know they’ll like it.
Take action: Think about introducing a new offer, or hosting an event… and think about the people who KNOW they’ll love it.
How do they know? What do they know they’ll get, even if they don’t know the details of the offer? What do they know they can always expect from you, no matter what?
The 11 things great brands do are:
Focus on one specific person
Listen, ask questions, and learn
Take a stand for something
Tell a story about the customer
Keep it simple + straightforward
Repeat a message
Show up (every day)
Be authentic + genuine
Deliver on a promise
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Hey! I’m Ashley.
I’m all about growing your mission-driven business with heart and intention! If you need help connecting authentically with your dream clients, you’re in the right place.