The words “Brand Development” often conjures up images of endless meetings, discussions, design iterations, and finally, that feeling of “what are we doing here, anyway.”
And while all that can be true, Branding has become a necessary part of business success. It helps to start with the essentials of your company’s identity — the Why, What, Who and How of your business. I like to call this exercise “Speed Branding.”
For some, this might be enough, for others these elements become the four corners of a solid brand foundation
Why: Finding Your “Why”
According to Simon Sinek, author, consultant, and Ted Talker, it starts with Why. He is famous for stating that in this post-mass market world, “People will buy WHY you do something before they buy WHAT you do.”
Ask yourself the following: Why are you in business? What excites you? What gives you the most professional satisfaction? What stops you from chucking it all and getting a job at the Post Office?
At one of my Branding Workshops, I asked these questions to the owner of Beauty Salon. After some thought, she replied that she most enjoyed working with people who were divorced or looking for work. She saw her purpose as giving them a new look and a fresh start. Her real “Why” was empowerment through beauty.
Think about why you started your businesses? What greater good are you serving?
What: Your Core Competency
Focus on the one thing you do best. (Apple started with computers, Starbucks started with coffee). Potential clients need a way to identify with you and understand the service you provide. Mudding the waters by being all things to all people means they won’t necessarily think of you when a specific need arises.
When I started my business, I was a graphic designer. As with most of my kind, I started out offering a laundry list of creative services. Business only took off when I laser-focused on promoting website design. I was able to build relationships and credibility and, over time, clients were asking for just about everything else that was on that laundry list.
Who: Your Target Audience
I am always surprised that most small businesses owners are so busy getting the work done, they fail to give this one any serious thought. They wind up working for “anybody” who crosses their path.
Who, exactly, are you looking to serve? Who is your perfect client? What do your best clients have in common?
Generally speaking, your best clients should be the ones who value your contribution. They listen to your advice, treat you like a collaborator and don’t haggle over the bill.”
You can also borrow a page from major corporations and put together “Marketing Personas” —fictional people who have the attributes of the ideal audience. How old are they, where do they live, how much do they earn a year, what interests do they have, and so on. Creating the fictional audience makes it easier to zoom in on the actual one—you’ll know what they’re looking to accomplish.
How: Your Personality
Finally, How do you differ from your competitors? What is that makes you, you? What is it that makes people like working with you?
In this age of almost countless niche markets, you need to get noticed before anything else. In such an environment, being different is more important than being better…initially, anyway.
Inject your personality into your brand. Are you hands-on, or are you a strategic thinker. Are you formal or casual? Carefully review the other three corners. This one can be harder to get a handle on, so feel free to ask friends, associates, and clients for feedback. You may find you have more fans you realize.
So spend a few hours, defining your own Four Corners. Whether you decide to do it yourself or hire a professional, you’ll be off to a great start.
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