The word “Brand” is something that is on the lips of a lot of people these days. They freely use it both rightly and wrongly. But what exactly is a brand?
Put simply, your personal brand, for instance, is what they say about you when you’re not in the room. It is how people feel and think about you behind your back. I say “behind your back” because that is when most people’s actual thoughts and feelings about you come to light without them having to feel any shame or hesitation. This same definition applies to a corporate brand. The feelings and thoughts that come to your mind when you think about a Coke is different from what you feel and think about a Pepsi. Even though they both belong to the same category, the difference is clear. That, my friends, is the power of branding. So, how do you build a brand?
For the sake of simplicity, I will focus on building a personal brand but please note that the same principles apply to building a corporate brand. Besides, a brand is a living, breathing thing as I will explain, not the brick and cement of neither an organization nor a commodity you buy and consume and forget about.
Building a brand begins with a deep understanding of yourself. You must take a hard look at yourself and identify your skills, beliefs, fears, hopes, dreams and core values. You must know both who you are and who you are not. It is also important to ride on your strengths. Those things you are really good at should be your focus. Are you well-established on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram? Then focus on them first.
While you should be well aware of what is going on in the society around you, you must select what you accept in line with your core values.
This takes us to another thing you need to do: Identify your purpose. Why do you do what you do? What drives you? What is your end game? Doing that will give you a clear path to your goal.
The next thing to do is to understand your target audience. It involves knowing who they are; where to find them, online or offline; what they do for a living; what they really want; how many children they have, if any; what their fears and desires are; etc.
You must also understand how others feel about you and what they think of you. Ask your friends, family members and acquaintances to tell you their perception of you. They key is to get as much information as possible from them. Ask them to describe you in a single word. Describe specific situations and ask them what they think you would do if were you to be in that situation. Like I said earlier, a brand is what people say, think and how they feel about you, so this part if extremely important.
Another important thing to do is to be honest. In all your contact with your target audience, you must be honest. When they sense that openness and sincerity, along with your skill set, they will be drawn to you, and to what you offer.
Be as unique as possible. People don’t want to see some copy of someone they already know. They want to open their mouths in surprise and say “wow, who is that?” You can be the one to make them do that if you do things in your own original way. If you do things in a way that is in line with your personality and purpose.
Clearly express your value. No one is going to blow your trumpet for you. No one is going to say you are great, unless you say it first. When you show how great you are at what you do and how you are different from everyone else, you will begin to get followers both online and offline – people who will sing your praises as your brand ambassadors. Your audience wants value and will be glad you are giving that to them.
Craft a powerful brand promise. Every brand has a promise. Yours should not be an exception. BMW promises sheer driving pleasure and they deliver that every single time. Driving their cars is one of the nicest things a car lover can experience. They make sure that every car they produce lives up to that brand promise. You must remember that people buy an experience and your product must be true to that experience.
Have a consistent content strategy. You also need to decide on what channels you will use to communicate with your audience and how that communication will be done. Everything you say must be in line with your brand personality. No room for stray thoughts.
Brand image is everything. The places you are seen at; the people you are seen with; the things you are seen doing; the colours you are seen wearing, all define your brand image. So, think carefully about each of these things.
Hold on to your passion. Passion is contagious. If you work on things you are passionate about, your audience will notice the enthusiasm and will more readily buy into it. But you must clearly define what you are passionate about and how that can add value to the life of your audience. Even the most ordinary task done with full passion will always draw attention. How much more so will your work which expected to be full of value and real purpose!
Never relent. Building a brand is not a day’s job. It takes a lot of time and effort – it takes years actually – still, the gains make it all worth your while. Not only will your audience love the strong brand that comes as a result of your hard work but you will love the profits that flow in day after day and year after year, because you took the time to not just focus on short-term profit-making but long-term brand-building.