Whether you realize it or not, you have been building your brand ever since you went into business. You may have done it deliberately with a well-defined process. You may have developed your brand by doing exactly what someone else told you to do. Or, you may have just worked hard and let the brand develop spontaneously on its own. Either way, you have a brand.
What is a brand? In short, it is the image you have projected to the people you hope to do business with. Your brand is what connects you with people. It determines whether prospects will take the next step with you. The closer your brand represents the genuine you, the more likely others will be drawn to your services since they want to know you, not who you are trying to be.
Your brand will project who you are because it answers 5 KEY QUESTIONS:
1. Why do you do what you do? (Vision Statement)
- There is a compelling reason why you chose the career path you are committed to.
- This motivation drives you forward, keeps you dreaming and brings a sense of personal fulfillment every time you accomplish something that gives expression to this passion.
- If you can put this motivation into words, you have identified your vision statement. In most cases, this statement will be simple and succinct.
- Very few of us are motivated by complicated explanations or intricate plans. Our hearts are awakened by a cause or impact that feels exciting to us.
Consider these two vision statements:
JetBlue Airways: "We are dedicated to bringing humanity back to air travel."
Coca-Cola: "To inspire moments of optimism and uplift."
You don't have to be big, however, to have a compelling reason for the way you do business. The following examples were written by small to medium sized business leaders:
"Help people enjoy life for their whole life."
"Be the most powerful force in my industry."
"Be a financial adviser people can trust."
"Put the Fun back in Retirement Funding."
"Surprise people with solutions on a regular basis."
"Help as many people as possible grow in their most important relationships."
2. What do you do? (Mission Statement)
- In developing your brand, it is not enough to simply be inspiring.
- You have to identify the products and services you are offering in order to have the impact you are hoping for.
You don't work in a vacuum where you get to just dream about ideas and how you are perceived. You have a chosen pursuit that puts your passion into action.
3. Who are you doing it for?
You have an audience. It has often been said, "You are looking for the people who are looking for you." To say that you are offering your services to all people everywhere may sound ambitious to you, but it is not realistic. Your audience has certain, predictable characteristics that help you connect with them.
- What age are they?
- What is their yearly salary?
- What type of neighborhood do they live in?
- What is their educational level?
- How do they dress?
- What are their hobbies?
- How active are they with computers, smart phones, and social media?
- What social circles do they hang out in?
4. How do you want people to feel when they hear your name (or company's name)?
People are complex individuals who balance their intellect, emotions, and will on a daily basis. As a result, you want your brand to cause people to "feel something," as well as inform them and call them to action. When people have a favorable emotional response to you and your brand, they will trust you at a higher level, even if they aren't sure exactly why. They just feel good about you.
This happens because they share, in some way, the same approach to life as you. Their temperament and life experiences are similar enough to yours that they feel an emotional connection with you and your message. Review the list below and ask which of these emotional responses do you hope people experience when they hear about your business?
Happy | Confident | Relieved | Intelligent | Courageous | Calm | Amused | Energized | Curious | Empowered | Admiration | Urgent | Anticipation | Surprise | Tension | Anxious | Envy |
Anger (not at you, of course)
5. What do you hope people will say about you?
Your best marketing is word of mouth. When one person tells another person about you, the message sticks. You want to harness the power of the public by anticipating what they will say and feeding them ideas of how they can communicate your value to others. This is one of the reasons endorsements and testimonials can help. They plant the seed for what you hope people will say to their friends. Here are a few examples [of what you might want people to say about you]:
- "They are really smart."
- "They are always honest, even when they can't help."
- "They fill the room whenever they enter."
- "I just feel more confident when I am around them."
- "They are empowering.
- "They solve problems."
- "They are fun."
- "I can trust them."
- "They made my needs more important than their business."
- "That is the most helpful person I have ever met."
- "They are important."
- "They are true professionals."
- "They get results."
Take a Break
Determining your brand is not intellectually difficult because you know yourself better than anyone else on earth. It is, however, emotionally challenging, because identifying your brand eliminates your excuses. If you know who you are, what you do, why you do it, and who your clients are, you have created a mandate for building a business and working hard to accomplish your goals.
Give yourself a few days to get used to your answers. Share them with family members or close friends and see how they respond. Then come back and work on them again. Rewrite the ones you aren't satisfied with and affirm the ones that resonate with you.
Be the Real Deal
Your brand is not something you create. It is something you discover. It is who you are. Putting your brand in words and representing it visually raises your confidence level and adds momentum to the effort you are already putting into your business.
As you evaluate your brand, the most important question is, "Does this brand represent the real me?" The more authentic your brand is to your natural temperament, motivation style, and work ethic, the more believable it will be. The goal is to match your brand to who you are.
Be bold, honest, and humble. Who you are is a valuable resource in this world. The way you naturally present yourself brings value to your family, your community, and your business.