Don’t Build Your Brand – Be Your Brand

A brand is more than a logo, a tagline, and a public image; it’s the blueprint for operating your business, and includes the standards you hold for employees and associates. Your brand is how you operate, plus the value you contribute to the world. In other words, your brand is a three-dimensional way of being – not a 2-dimensional, pixel-perfect image created in Photoshop.

Your brand is who you are. Your customers know you by what you stand for – how you treat them as well as how you treat your employees.

If you’re struggling, consider the following suggestions for building a brand your customers will be proud of:

1. Build your brand before exposing people to it as an image

Large corporations like Pepsi and McDonald’s successfully increase their brand awareness through exposing people to their logos and slogans. This works because they’re established; the majority of the global population already knows who they are.

If your business isn’t well known by your target market, then raising awareness of your brand image won’t work. Consumers are flooded with unknown brand images every day, and unless you’re doing something to stand out, they’ll pass you by.

2. Be your brand

Brands are developed independently of the products and services provided. In essence, you are your brand.

Forbes author David Galullo, CEO for Rapt Studio, explains why branding is about who you’re being: “In an increasingly chaotic marketplace, yelling louder isn’t the answer. Business today doesn’t come down to what you sell or what you do. It’s about who you are and what you stand for. People don’t come to work every day for just a paycheck, and customers aren’t indiscriminate shoppers anymore. They both want purpose, they want to believe, and they want to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves.”

3. Rethink the way you distribute branded promo items

Have you ever thought about why people are willing to pay good money just to wear a company’s brand name or logo on clothing? You’d think the company would pay the consumer to advertise, but it’s the other way around. Although, selling t-shirts and other promotional items with your logo only works when your brand is established.

People are loyal to brands that are aligned with what they value. They’re not likely to buy a branded t-shirt or another item from an unfamiliar brand. The best thing you can do is give your items away as gifts. However, there is a secret to doing this successfully.

If you’re going to give branded gifts, make sure they’re useful to the average person and give them away while embodying your brand. This is key.

For instance, say you want to give away tote bags with your logo. They’re generally useful to everyone, but how you give them away matters. You don’t want people to connect with your business and say, “By the way, here’s a cool free gift.” That free gift should be relevant to the platform on which you’re standing to make yourself known.

To embody your brand from the consumer’s point of view, your gift needs to be relevant to what caught someone’s attention and drew them to check you out.

Regardless of what you sell, if your brand is aligned with being eco-friendly and reducing plastic consumption, stand on that platform to build your brand. Get a booth at a large event in your industry, and embody your alignment with supporting the environment in all that you do.

Print your flyers and business cards on recycled paper, have your staff drinking out of reusable water bottles, and don’t use plastic in your display. In this scenario, reusable tote bags are a more appropriate gift to give away than t-shirts and coffee mugs. T-shirts and mugs are cool, but reusable bags directly promote your brand’s alignment with environmental health – the cause that drew people in to begin with.

4. Partner with an established brand to build your own

Teaming up with a larger, more established corporation allows you to borrow their authority. For instance, a small, local print shop in Florida partnered with Xerox and grew to be one of the top print solutions in central Florida. Offering access to high tech print solutions facilitated by the most well-known brand in the world (Xerox) led to a partnership with NASCAR.

Being your brand takes effort

Branding your business isn’t accomplished with a checklist of tasks. You have to get out there and be an example of what you’re aligned with. The good news is, you can start right now!