Anyone who has started a business knows firsthand just how important it is for a company to have its own, verifiable identity — especially if you plan on being around long-term. I would argue that the only thing that could potentially be more important than building brand identity is having a good answer for why your business needs to exist. Building your business’ brand is mission-critical because it gives customers a face or image to associate with your company. The eventual sale starts there.
But one thing that is less talked about is how entrepreneurs can use their personal brands to kick start their business’ brand. Using the connections that come with the evolution of your own reputation could ultimately be what gives your business the resources it needs to grow.
As a company founder or executive, your personal brand allows you to develop touchpoints for networking purposes. Your business partners, colleagues, advisors and, in some cases, competitors play insurmountable roles in helping differentiate your product in an oversaturated market. Those stakeholders are critical for the long-term success of the business and you and your personal brand’s influence can help create that ecosystem and establish you as a leader, a subject-matter expert, someone people need to know.
What separates good executives from great ones is the charisma factor. People invest in people. You can have a great idea, but if you’re not the type of person to go the extra mile to find ways to get it done, you won’t be able to garner the necessary support for any successful business endeavor. Your ability to influence investors, partners and cohorts is essential in giving your company the lifeline it needs to grow.
Brand Awareness and Loyalty
It’s an overly competitive and saturated world. Your brand should easily convey the value you add and why people should do business with you. It is the key to developing relationships with customers and allows them to think positively about you, your company, products, service or even your employees. If you don’t have a solid brand identity, you’ll lose those customers you worked so hard to attract.
Keeping your customers engaged with your business’ brand is essential. Consumers want to be a part of something bigger and if you can build a brand that creates a unique experience, you’ll develop loyalty. You can invest in all the resources for growth, but you can’t put a price on brand awareness and loyalty. Take Starbucks as an example. When customers see that logo, they know they’ll get the same product and experience wherever they go.
What’s more, being able to succinctly convey why your business’ offerings are essential to your customer’s everyday lives is what future-proofs your business from new entrants. There was a time not so long ago that when you needed a ride somewhere, you were solely at the mercy of the nearby taxi economy or public transportation. That’s just how it was. If you just happened to be in an area where taxis weren’t traveling or there were no subway stops near you, you were fresh out of luck. Uber so elegantly reframed the way we think and showed us that there was a better, more efficient way to travel, which ultimately changed consumer behavior forever. This is where brand building and storytelling play a significant role in your business growth.
Becoming The Brand
Now, how do you make your brand the brand in your space?
It starts with unquestionable customer service. When your customers are interacting with you and your brand, the experience should be better than anyone else’s in the space. Your quality of service leads to consistent word-of-mouth influence that increases brand recognition. Rather than emulating your competitors, prove your value by finding your own secret sauce to provide memorable positive interactions. This makes your product or service recognizable and distinguishable from other brands.
People will never forget the first time they touched or experienced a product that changed their lifestyle. Everyone remembers the first time they witnessed the graphics on an Xbox or swiped the touch-screen of the iPhone. Every time you drive a Tesla, it’s like driving for the first time all over again. That thought of “Wow, this feels new” is what separates the top brands. How can your company replicate that first-time experience? What is your new value add? How are you distinguishing your brand from others in the space? Replicating that “a-ha” moment is vital for continued brand support. You want to influence these customers in the best ways.
Brands have become an extension of lifestyle and have integrated seamlessly into our everyday lives. That’s why companies need a solid social media presence to build a brand and influence customers. In my experience, people can find it off-putting if a company doesn’t use any form of social media to showcase products or services. If a consumer is stuck between brand choices and one is purposeful in their social media approach — posting updates, deals, new products, high-quality images, resolving customer service issues, etc., versus the company that hasn’t posted anything in six months, who is the consumer more likely to gravitate toward? Social media is one of the best channels to build a trusted brand.
Social media has also created new marketing channels via the influencer. This modern-day game-changer in brand building can exponentially raise awareness. People tend to use products that influencers showcase because they represent a lifestyle that appeals to them. This influencer marketing is key to the future of brand building. It also allows your business to reach your customers by using channels they already frequent. It behooves you as the business founder to consider influencer marketing to reach customers where they live and recruit new loyalists.
From the founder to the consumer and everything in-between, influence is invariably important to building your brand and making it the brand to be a part of.