Branding, as I wrote in Part 1, is the building block to your business and its marketing. It is built over time with consistency of message and service/products plus delivering on your promises.
A business’ brand will – dare I say should – be developed at the beginning of a business based around the business owner’s values and visions. And whilst a business will evolve over time, the core reasons for starting the business should remain.
I talk often that your brand is not your logo or your name; that customers and clients won’t build a relationship with these things.
Customers connect with people. And herein lies the next ingredient in your branding: your staff.
When you grow from being sole trader to employer, it is imperative to remain uncompromising in your values and ensure everyone representing your brand is in alignment with these.
When I talk about branding, my questions mostly relate to an individual (or partners) who started the business. Sometimes there is modesty from business owners that their business, whilst their dream, is not “all about me”. I understand and connect with this humility, however what I say is imperative to your business’ success in the marketplace: Humility aside, your business is, actually, all about you. Your staff, sub-contractors, anyone who deals with your customer-base and prospects, are representing you – your brand.
The better-loved businesses usually have a face behind the name. Whether you’re Richard Branson, Suzi Dafnis or Annabelle, as a consumer I am connected to your business because of your dream and vision and getting to know and believe in you.
I’ve never spoken with Mr Branson, but in my expectation of dealing with Virgin, I expect a continuum of the relationship he has built within his brand. He talks about the importance of happy staff and politeness so if I am not treated in-line with his words, whether it’s him or not, his promise has been broken.
It’s not that customers should expect clones. And I’m definitely not saying to hire “mini-mes” or non- thinkers. A successful, well-rounded business is more likely to develop with innovative staff who complement an owner’s ideas.
But there are two things you should never compromise on: Why you started your business and the values connected to your ‘why’.
Your brand takes a long time to develop and resonate in the hearts and minds of consumers. Your tribe will start small and grow, if you’re lucky. The last thing you want is to have people representing your business – your brand – you! – who don’t understand they are representing your vision and courage to start a business.
Believe in yourself, your business and remember one bad representation from your business reflects on your brand – you.
This article first appeared in Australian Businesswomen’s Network on 27 September 2013