When I first started my business, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to create a brand. Unfortunately, when speakers and trainers talked about branding and having a brand they would reference well-known brands like Coca Cola and Nike. No one ever spoke about how to build a brand from scratch.
What I learned over time is that your brand is made up of everything you do. It’s in:
- How you answer the phone
- The color you paint your office
- Your logo design
- How you dress to meet with customers
- The types of flyers that you distribute
And this is just a sample. I could create a list 20 times that long and still not encompass every aspect of your brand.
The trick to creating a strong brand is to make sure that every element of your brand is consistent with the image that you desire. And the image you desire is consistent with how your company actually operates.
These 2 concepts are important because while you can and should consciously create your brand, ultimately your brand is only a perception made by others. What does this mean to you? It means that you do not really own your brand; you simply rent it. And just like a rental property has a rental payment due each month, your brand will only continue to grow if you continue to monitor and strengthen it on an ongoing basis.
In other words:
- Are the colors being used in your new website design consistent with your brand?
- Is how the new receptionist answers the phone and responds to inquiries consistent with your brand?
- Are the services you are thinking of adding consistent with your brand?
It also means that it is important to check in with people outside your company and see how you are actually being perceived by your ideal customers. What you intend is not always how others see you.
- Is the long and detailed greeting people receive when they call perceived as professional or pompous?
- Is the cool new logo you are considering seen as fun or frivolous?
- Is your weekly newsletter welcomed in people’s email boxes or relegated to the spam folder?
At its core, your actual brand is best expressed in the sentence or paragraph that your customers use when they talk about you and your company to other people. It’s not about whether they say you are great. Instead, listen to what they say you do and how you do it. If it’s congruent with the brand you have been working to create, you have been successful. If not, it may be time to get to work and fix your brand.