We’ve been asked, with increasing frequency, to provide a step-by-step guide to building a brand. That’s really an impossible task because every business, every product, every service, is different. But for small businesses and solopreneurs, what follows may afford some benefit. It may even be useful to those working on their personal brands. We provide it with the caveat that, as my old professor used to say, “The map is not the territory.” The reader will need to customize the process to more aptly fit his or her own business realities. So start now. And when you finish the first task, begin immediately on the next one. When you complete all twenty, you’ll have maximized your brand power, your brand effectiveness and your brand value.
STEP ONE – Identify your Market. Your market is made up of constituencies. A constituency is any group whose perception of your brand is important to its future. Customers/clients are obviously number one on the list. But employees are always a close second and, in some instances, where happy employees create happy customer experiences, they even come first. But there are many more constituencies specific to each brand: colleagues, mentors, financiers, vendors, regulatory agencies, the press, etc. Ask others to help you identify all of them. Once you’ve got them listed, that’s your market.
STEP TWO – Identify 2-3 representatives of each of your market’s constituencies. Go and interview them. Find out what they think about working with you. Find out how they feel after you finish a project for them or complete a delivery. You’ll have to take some measures to ensure you get clean, objective answers. Make a note of any themes, common threads or similar phrases, especially the ones that come from multiple constituencies. Any commonalities that arise can be presumed to be truths about your business. Write down these insights and use them to inform all your future deliberations.
STEP THREE – Every viable business exists to satisfy a market need. What is your market missing that you can provide? What pain points can you alleviate? Try to write this from your clients’ point of view, as in: ”I need to feel: safe, secure, smart, free – whatever.” How would your clients feel if this need was met? Would the rest of your market agree that this is the need?
STEP FOUR – The purpose of your business is to meet the above market need. For now, stay in your clients’ mind. How would they define the role you play in their lives? Why do they think your brand should even exist? Write it down. “The XYZ Company exists to: make me feel: safe, secure, aware, sexy, in charge, connected, intelligent, etc.” Note: This is not a mission statement. Concentrate on how your clients want to feel after working with you and write it from their point of view. Play with this until you get it just right. Would the rest of the market agree that this is your purpose? But don’t fall in love with your purpose statement just yet. It may change very soon.
STEP FIVE – Make a list of your top 3-5 direct competitors. Study them. How are their websites set up? How is the information organized and presented? Can you figure out what keywords they’re promoting? Research everything you can about their marketing efforts. Collect their business cards, stationery, brochures, etc. How are they positioning themselves? What “territory” is unoccupied? If there are giant, international players in your field, by all means, study their communications to see if there is anything there that you can emulate. But the real targets here are your direct competitors, the ones in your local market, whom you compete with every day. Those are the ones from whom you’ll want to differentiate yourself. Document what your find.
STEP SIX – Revisit your purpose statement. There are many categories of purpose statements but only five have been associated with rapid growth*. They are:
• Eliciting Happiness
• Enabling Connection
• Encouraging Exploration
• Evoking Pride
• Improving Society
These are very general categories so, hopefully, your purpose can be reimagined to fit into one of them. Try your best to make that happen. Is your business all about eliciting happiness? If not, can it be seen as eliciting happiness? Tweak or re-write your purpose statement if you have to – but be sure stay authentic. Don’t change who you are just to fit into one of these categories. You can achieve plenty of success without having to match up with them. Continue writing from your clients’ point of view. And make sure your whole market agrees that this is your true purpose.
Congratulations! You’re off to a terrific start. Be sure you don’t miss the next three installments of this series in which we’ll complete the strategy and begin your communications planning. Subscribe to Brandtalk here.
*Grow, by Jim Stengel, Virgin Books
Best Branding Reads – Week of March 6, 2017
How To Stop Phishing Scams Ruining Brand Reputation
Don’t let scammers use your good name to defraud people.
Conquering the Complex B2B Sale
Excellent article explains why a strong brand is essential to B2B marketing.
How Brand Rivals Can Win Together
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How One Word Is Turning Brand Briefs Away from Success
The word is “disruption” and the author makes a very good point. Your customers do not want their day disrupted.
New Logo and Identity for Woke
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After weathering a crisis, Welspun rededicates itself to building its brand.
Should Your Brand(s) Consolidate?
An interesting look at the age-old question, one brand or two? Or many?