A brand is the power of you on paper, in person, on the airwaves, or on screen. It is the extension of yourself that your marketing materials attempt to project. Brands work the same way whether large or small. The brands that succeed are the ones that are unique, but they're also the ones that are authentic. A brand must always come from the heart. It must define who you are. Your brand will only succeed if it represents the true picture of you.
A brand is a direct representation of you as well as your promise about what you will deliver to your customers or clients. You can't achieve it if you're not in tune with what you have to offer. With that in mind, let's examine a few key insights into how to develop a brand that is true to you and your mission.
1. Determine your vision and your purpose. Ask yourself one question: "What is my business really about?" The goal of successful entrepreneurs is almost always to make something happen first and foremost. So what is it that you want to make happen? Answer that question honestly and thoroughly, then write it down in the fewest number of words possible.
2. Build the right network. The point to take away from this segment is that not everyone belongs in your network. Some people can't help you. Some people won't deliver what they promise and others are just clutter for your contacts list. So build your network, but make sure everyone that stays in it is right for you and for your business.
3. Conduct a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis is a method often attributed to strategic planning that calls for the analyzer to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) involved in a business venture, project, or in this case, brand. With a SWOT Analysis, you can create a detailed and honest assessment of where your brand soars and where it suffers. You can also find key avenues through which you might grow that brand, and of course determine potential threats to your brand awareness and uniqueness.
4. Determine your target market. Ask yourself who is the most profitable segment of market that is likely to purchase your product or service. Once you've answered this question... you may then craft your strategy to attracting these consumers. As entrepreneurs, you must be clear on who you are targeting and how to attract these consumers.
5. Determine who your competition is. Sometimes the best answers to brand questions can be found out in the field. Often, if you're stuck on what your brand should be, the best way is to study what the competition is doing. It could be that there's something specific about their brand that might help you to shape your brand. Maybe you perceive a shortfall on the part of the competition's brand -- one that will fit nicely into the brand you're trying to create. That is certainly something to capitalize on. Maybe from your survey into your target market, you have determined a flaw in something the competition is doing. Again, that is something that you can use to your competitive advantage.
6. Remember the Three C's for branding. The Three C's for branding are Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy. With regard to clarity, you want your brand image, purpose, and message to be unassailably clear. When people see, think about, or learn about your brand, you want them to know immediately and exactly what you stand for. Consistency is a matter of keeping the message uniform. You can't present your brand in print differently than you do in person or on the radio/television. Constancy is a matter of getting the message out there to the point where it is almost ubiquitous. It means carefully considering how to position your brand to where it can have the most lasting impact.
7. Conduct a brand assessment. Ask 20 of your customers to name one word that they would use to describe your brand. If your twenty responses all come back different, you need to work on your Consistency. If the large majority of them don't meet the message you were hoping to send, then your Clarity needs improvement.
8. Deliver your authentic self. When building brand awareness, you must deliver your authentic self. Be original, be yourself, and be honest. The more of your authentic self that you bring to the table, the more successful you will likely become.
9. Understand your value. There is only one you. That has value and that has power -- but only if you know what your own personal value and power is. What do you bring to the table that no one else can? Why would someone want to invest in you and your company? What makes you different from everyone else? These are all questions whose answers belong in your brand consideration.
10. Define your positioning strategy. When your customers think about your brand, what kinds of thoughts do you want them to have? When you have the answer to that question in mind, you're in position to craft a brand that will reach your target market effectively. Remember, however, that it's important to conduct a brand assessment every quarter to ensure that your message is being delivered and received properly.
As a final point, don't attempt to build your brand like anyone else. Be authentic. If you can be open and honest with yourself about your personal value, you won't need to fudge facts on your brand. Focus on your passions. Determine what it is that you're inherently good at, what value you bring to the table, and how you can make an impact in your chosen market.