I think there is a special place in heaven for entrepreneurs. As you know, it’s not easy to take an idea and successfully bring it to market. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And most of all it takes a kind of blind faith, to believe in yourself and your product or service and to get up every morning and keep it moving forward despite (many) obstacles and better resourced market incumbents.
But here’s one thing that I think a lot of entrepreneurs are missing…a smarter approach to branding. For many entrepreneurs, “brand development” consists of thinking up a name and a logo and focusing on getting a website up and running.
While these are important elements, they miss the more fundamental role and purpose (and secret weapon) of branding — a powerful Brand Idea or brand promise.
The biggest mistake I see is that entrepreneurs don’t give enough attention to brand. Brands need investment, expertise, and constant attention. It’s your most valuable business asset. It’s your relationship with your customer. You need to keep it healthy – and it will help you build loyalty.
Strong brands have tangible business benefits. They: allow you to charge a premium, get customers to ask for you by name, increase trial of new products and services, enjoy strong word of mouth, and help you be forgiven more easily when you mess up. And let’s face it, all brands make mistakes from time to time, and need to update and continue to elevate their brand.
Now most brands (at least the successful ones) start with a passion to fill a fundamental gap in the marketplace. So there is definitely a vision on the part of the entrepreneur. But too often it remains something that stays in the founder’s head and heart and is not often clearly articulated in a way that can be shared with staff, strategic partners and potential investors.
The problem is that while business ideas are openly circulated in hopes of attracting investors, employees and/or partners, they can only go so far and do so much without a companion (dare I say integrally woven) Brand Idea.
I use a technique with all of my corporate clients, small businesses, entrepreneurs and students to help hone in on their brand vision.
We create a Brand Framework that has the 4 key components of your brand all on one page:
- Bulls-eye target: your most profitable prospects and what motivates them.
- Brand Idea: your unique brand promise (what you enable people to feel, not just what they can do)
- Brand Pillars: the brand values you adhere to in your business that enhance credibility and differentiation
- Brand Touch-points: how your Brand Idea comes alive in your product experience and marketing
It takes a fair amount of work to explore of all of these areas and distill them down to clear and differentiated thoughts that can be expressed on one page. But once you do, it is an invaluable filter for every single decision you make and should be used as a guide throughout every facet of your business.
A strong brand can also help you learn when to say “NO!”. I am a big believer in using your brand as a tool to help define areas where your business should be present and what ideas you should walk away from or say, “no”. Entrepreneurs are long on vision and passion. But we are often short on resources (time and money). So learning to focus is crucial. Your Brand Framework can be a key tool in this area.
I’m excited to share my “5 Strategies for a Stronger Brand” at the upcoming WomanConconference. This will not be your average lunch-time key note. You will get some delicious food, but then we are going to roll up our sleeves and work together on tackling some of your toughest brand challenges. You will walk away with (a full stomach) and some tangible tools to get build the brand your business deserves.
If you have any specific brand questions you’d like addressed at the conference, please email me at Julie@BrandTwist.com. Otherwise, see you on the 25th!
Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build their brands and leverage them as actionable business assets. Julie was the VP of Brand at Richard Branson’s Virgin Group overseeing branding strategy for new and established Virgin companies in North America. She is also the creator of a unique and impactful online branding class for entrepreneurs www.BrandSchoolOnline. com.