A Beginner’s Guide To Building A Brand

Every entrepreneur who is serious about his business, will need to think about brand building.
However, it’s a topic which is surprisingly overlooked compared to other aspects of business.
That’s why this article will hopefully motivate you to either get started or improve your knowledge about branding.

First of all, let’s have a look at why branding is such a big deal.

To make it short: Branding is the ultimate way of setting yourself apart from your competition and to stay relevant in the mind of your target customers.

A brand can be almost anything: A name, a design, a term or simply any feature which distinguishes your product or service from the competition.
The term actually derives from livestock branding where a distinctive symbol was burned into the skin of the animal to seperate one person’s cattle from another.

Your brand is a so called “intangible asset” which lacks physical substance.
That explains the incredible value of your brand equity:

You can’t simply buy it and it’s immediately available. This leads us to the first important fact:

Branding doesn’t happen overnight.
The reason is simple: The perception of your business has yet to be “branded” into the mind of your customers.

Just like success, branding requires a lot of time, money and energy. You have to invest in order to make it work. However, once you established a successful brand, it will pay off in every aspect.

A bad image can’t be turned around overnight (either)

Establishing a brand is one thing but trying to polish a negative brand is another.
Humans have a natural ability to forget positive aspects relatively fast, while negative aspects stick in our mind for a very long time.

A decreasing trend of a firm’s value proposition can be very harmful.
Do not deceive your customers, if they find out, you are in trouble.

Don’t fool people.
As mentioned above, there is a fine line between exaggerating positive aspects and plain lying to your customers.
You definitely want to be confident about what you do and share all of the amazing advantages of your product with the world but don’t exaggerate.

A perfect example are the recent scandals in the fast food industry.

Health concerns definitely play a huge role in the perception but the main problem is even worse:
People feel betrayed.
Many consumers are so cautious now, that they even start to question the relative low price due to the notion, that the food’s overall quality isn’t worth it.

The moral of the story: Never break the main promise of your brand.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
The most important lesson about branding though, is that actions definitely speak louder than words. It is always easy to make loose promises but taking action requires much more effort.

Chipotle recently stopped working with one of their meat suppliers, because they didn’t live up to the high standards of the company.

Obviously, this action hurt their revenue but in the end it proved that they stand for their brand promise, which was received very well.

Now that we discussed why branding is such a big deal, let’s move on to how it’s actually done.

Step 1: Define Your Brand
Take a look at the product or service that you and your company offer.
You need to be as honest as possible and make sure to define:

1. The Occupation of the Space in the market

2. Research the needs of your customers. (both emotional and rational)

Ultimately, your brand should promote your business and help you to connect with your target customers.

Helpful Tip:

Think of your brand as a person.

We as individuals are defined by our character and our character is made up of values, beliefs and a purpose.

It is therefore essential to know your brand character to really define your business as best as possible.
You should also consider the drive of your business.
What do you believe in and what are your role models?

Answering these questions might help you to get a better understanding of your situation as a whole.

Step 2: Establish long-term relationships with your customers.

Honest branding creates trust. If your business lives up to this simple rule, you will establish customers and establishing customers is always a sign of good branding.

Step 3: Be brave and aim for innovations.

You should always stand for what you believe in.
The advantage of a small startup company is, that you are not trapped in complex layers of bureaucracy like big companies. Use that to your advantage as best as possible and embrace your values in a creative way.
It will set you apart from your competition.

Final Thoughts

In 2015, branding is more than just repeating the same message over and over again.
Printing your logo on absolutely everything won’t cut it either.

However, the above ideas and guidelines should give you a good idea about the topic of branding and it hopefully inspired you to be more aware of it in the future.

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