Building a powerful business brand will certainly help you position your company and accelerate the path to success and it is an important step of the overall business process, but you don’t have to break your neck and agonize over the precise look and feel of your brand, especially as a start-up and if you are going through a re-branding or you are simply looking to re-energize your brand, I have one piece of advice for you:
Take your time and make sure you understand the real purpose of your brand.
Branding a business was a process that came to me at a time when it was right for me to do it and certainly not because I had to do it.
I believe that many start-ups today focus too intently on building their brand rather than putting their thoughts and ideas into practice, rather than taking them to the market.
When I first started my global technology staffing company, the last thing on my mind was to create a brand — I just wanted to get out there and talk to as many clients as possible and bring in some sales…but what I didn’t realize at the time was I was unknowingly building the blocks to create my business brand and by also relentlessly studying the information that my clients were putting our to the market, I was learning how they were utilizing their own marketing collateral.
For me, the process actually took a few years to bring together, and with the help of a former creative director of the world-famous advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi.
However, there is one step that you can take right now and that is to build your personal brand.
By showcasing “who you are” to the world, you will give people an idea of the person behind the business and a glimpse into your life, beliefs, thoughts, and passions.
I believe that people will become just as interested in the people behind companies as they are about the companies themselves as it may just provide that little bit of extra reasoning to help them make buying decisions in an ultra-competitive market.
I built my personal brand after I branded my business because it was not as easy to do so back in the day, but in today’s Internet-enabled world, it is easy to put up a blog and start communicating your message.
Take a look at this article: “What is Personal Branding in Business,” to understand a little bit more about what I am saying.
Sir Richard Branson is a UK entrepreneur who has built a strong personal and business brand but starting his business over fifty years ago, he did not have the luxury of the Internet but soon made up for it over time.
And his Virgin brand has now become synonymous with giving people the best possible customer experience, no matter what product or service he provides, or which market he enters.
Why branding is important
I’m going to start with a point that may seem like I am contradicting myself, but please bear with me!
I don’t believe customers care about your business or your personal brand…they only care about what you can do for them and I believe that it’s not that they don’t want to care, it’s that they have, in the main, become tired of false promises that leave them with negative experiences; tired of the same advertising and social media branding and are far more willing to experiment thanks to the luxury of the Internet and the sheer amount of information available.
You could even go one step further and take this quote into consideration from the former CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, Kevin Roberts:
Brands have run out of juice. They’re dead. Now the consumer is boss. There’s nowhere for brands to hide.”
I agree with the comments of Roberts and you may ask why I am writing this article about building your business brand and even a personal one.
Because if you build your brand with a strong foundation and with the customer in mind, it is an extremely powerful and valuable tool.
And it’s not a matter of simply changing the colors of your logo, or doing a complete website re-design, or is it about pushing out endless and meaningless content on social media…it is about getting back to the heart of your customer and making sure you connect with them, but more importantly, understand their journey, their commercial commitments or “deliverable” and then you can purposefully align your message accordingly.
It’s about getting back to the basics.
How to create a brand identity
As I started to build my technology staffing business by landing some major clients, I slowly started to realize the impact I was having on my clients and it stretched far beyond simply finding them the right people.
Had I have gone down the traditional route of branding and I am using the word “traditional” only because it’s the way most people go about the process, I would have spent countless hours designing logos and taglines to fit what I initially thought was the purpose of my staffing business — to fill client vacancies in the fastest possible time and by having a large pool of candidates (database) from which to choose from…and the larger the database, the better.
Now, at the time and because I was new, my database only consisted of around thirty people, and the largest specialist company in the industry at the time boasted a database of around sixty-thousand people!
I could not compete.
Instead, I flipped the process and started to tell clients that my primary focus was to locate and hand-pick specialists and then drive them to the companies that could best utilize, develop, and challenge their skills.
And that is why our database was the smallest in the industry!
Without going into the full detail here, because it would take a book to explain all of the steps we took, I ended up branding the company:
#1 for people in telecommunications
It worked like a dream and it was the brainchild of my creative director advertising genius from Saatchi and Saatchi.
Clients loved it, the industry loved it and our competitors hated it!
Here are some tips to help you create, re-energize, or refine your brand identity:
Make sure you understand exactly what you are selling
Make sure you are giving your customers exactly what they want and solving the problems of today and start to anticipate the problems of tomorrow.
This sounds obvious, but think about my journey — I thought I was selling reactive (filling vacancies) recruiting/staffing services when in effect, I was enabling clients to work with the best people in the industry.
This was not a spin or play on words, it was real and it only came about after I had much greater success by working directly with the candidates to drive them to companies, regardless of whether there were any vacancies or not.
It was a pro-active, rather than a reactive service which did not depend on whether clients had any actual vacancies…in many cases, they created them due to the caliber of the people we presented.
This process took a couple of years to be discovered and refined, so take your time and use your customers as the sounding board.
Over time, I was able to predict the skills my customer’s problems in advance, simply through looking at future technology rollouts and finding the people who could learn and deploy the newfound skills rapidly.
Make sure you are consistent
Consistency shows reliability and reliability builds trust.
Once you have defined what you are really selling, you need to deliver a consistent message to your clients.
With my new-found branding message, I now had to prove to my clients why we were #1 in our field and that came down to a variety of reasons, but all centered on the message of driving the very best talent to our clients…but we also had to make sure we could react in the traditional manner of finding the people to fill the skills gaps in their organizations today.
I had enough on my plate trying to hunt down, verify and deliver the in-demand experts to work proactively, but I now started to ask clients to give us their hardest to fill vacancies…the ones that my competitors could not fill.
Now, I started to cover another dimension in the process and I was starting to solve some critical problems…it all came together to cement the “#1” message.
A consistent message is a powerful message.
Being better involves consistently doing the simple things extremely well and having a total commitment to refining them
Never stand still…and never rest on your laurels!
I became obsessive about refinement…just like the very best chefs obsess about making their dishes perfect and better each time and I love to cook by the way!
The boxer Mike Tyson, in his early career would get up at 4 am to go running…because he knew “the other guy” wouldn’t do it.
I love to study the best people in every field of life because I gain inspiration and that inspiration keeps me focussed and determined to do better.
There is no one fix to beat your competition…just focus on doing the simple things better and when you add this to the other two components above, you have the basis for a very strong brand.
Building your brand is an extremely important exercise, but there is no need to rush the process.
Many start-ups, in my opinion, spend far too much time agonizing over the look and feel of their companies, rather than getting out there and generating revenue.
Make sure you understand exactly what your company is selling and the problems you are solving — the real benefit of your product and/or services may be much more far-reaching than you think.
Be consistent with what you say and do — it is one of the foundational qualities of developing a strong and powerful brand that gains one of the most important customer value points…trust!
Make sure you do the simplest things better and never stop trying to refine them — doing more than your competitors is one thing but striving to be better is a never-ending process and a mindset.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and please connect with me if you want to discuss it further!
Last modified: December 4, 2020