How to Build a Strong Brand
AKA: the truth about branding
If I asked you, "What is branding?" would you say:
A) My business name, logo, and color palette.
B) The symbol I burn into the haunches of my cattle
C) Being meaningfully different from my competition!
If you answered (A), pretty close! But keep reading.
If you answered (B), hey cowgirl!
If you answered (C), you're on the right track!
what a brand really is
Your brand is so much more than the way you look! It's essentially how you're different.
Imagine that you're talking to a friend who has been living under a rock for the past 30 years and has never heard of Apple - the ubiquitous technology company.
If you're a fan of Apple, how would you describe it to your friend? Would you say:
"The logo is an apple with a bite taken out of it. The color palette is primarily white and grey, with black and jewel tone accents."
"I love Apple! The products are so sleek, well-designed, and user-friendly compared to PCs. All my designer friends prefer Apple products. Buying and unwrapping them is an experience in itself because of the attention to detail in the packaging. Even the Apple Store is sleek and fun to visit, it feels like stepping into the future! When I bought my iPad, I cleaned my whole house before unwrapping it, because I wanted to fully enjoy the experience in a clean, organized space."
Unless you're a logo designer talking to another logo designer, you would probably say something more like the second option. Because what really matters to you is your experience of engaging with the brand that is different from other brands, and the unique reputation Apple has built as the sleek, high-end technology company that caters specifically to creatives.
Does the logo even matter? It does! It serves as a symbol and a visual indicator for the brand. And it should align with and reinforce the reputation you want. (The apple symbol is a great choice for Apple because of its simplicity and associations with the tree of knowledge.)
But the brand is so much deeper than that! It's what the company stands for, why it matters, and how the experience it offers is intentionally different from anything else available.
the incredible power of Apple is not in its name or logo. it's in the accumulation of memorable brand experiences.
so what is branding?
Every audience touchpoint is an opportunity to either blend in with the crowd, or create an experience. Branding is essentially creating intentional experiences in a way that sets you apart!
Our brains give EXTRA room to unique experiences and makes them stand out in our memories. The days you followed your normal routine last year may not stand out in your memory, but the day trips, vacations, and unusual experiences sure do. They seem to take up more than their fair share of time (if we don't have many new experiences, our lives seem to go by faster and faster.)
When your audience has UNIQUE experiences associated with you – no matter how big or small – they begin to form an impression. A brand is born!
Every memorable experience reinforces your brand. Branding is essentially delivering memorable experiences that leave deep impressions.
And you start by getting intentional about how you talk, act, and behave.
it's about how you show up
Think of it this way: As a person, your behavior shapes how people see you.
Sure, what you look like (i.e., your visual identity) has some influence on how people see you. But they also observe your behaviors, how they feel around you, what kinds of things you talk about.
It's how our brains work!
what's involved in biz branding?
If branding is shaping people's perception by getting intentional in how you do things, what does that look like for a business? As a business, your behaviors include:
What you say (your content)
How you say it (your tone / voice)
Where you say it (your platforms and guest appearances)
What you look like (your visual identity)
What it's like engaging with you (your audience and customer experiences)
How you treat people and behave (your culture)
Becoming intentional in how you do all these things reinforces and builds the brand that you want, and that plays to your strengths. When you have a strategy and a plan for how your business "shows up" across all channels, you can begin to build a brand.
what about personal or solo biz branding?
As a solopreneur or small business owner, you've got what the big guys pour millions of dollars into trying to replicate: the experience of engaging with a real person and developing real trust and a relationship!
Your brand is your business's greatest asset. and you hold the greatest fuel and inspiration for your brand.
Your branding journey will include personal exploration, observing the way you naturally do things, and identifying your unique strengths and desires, so you can lean into them even more.
What you uncover will help you take strategic action to bring your business into alignment with who you are, in a way that differentiates you and serves your business.
To begin your branding journey, start with getting really clear about your brand foundations. You need to "look under the hood" and figure out what is happening beneath the surface.
What motivates you? Why did you start this business? What are you trying to achieve? What transformation do you want to create in the world?
The same is true if you're building your personal brand. Before you get into the weeds of how you're going to dress, act, and present yourself, you need to know who you are, and what you want to communicate about yourself or your biz, and how you want to position yourself.
If this sounds up your alley, grab my free Brand Blueprint and 7-day email course, and start finding clarity about your inspired brand!
Catch Episode 1 of The Brand Cure Podcast:
ready to take the next step?
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