Do you think that building a successful brand can only be accomplished by a big corporation or someone with a master’s in marketing? If so, you would be wrong. Over the years I have learned what makes a successful brand and what doesn’t. And now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
When I started my marketing consulting business in 2012, it was honestly “by accident”. I didn’t know much about branding, social media trends, hashtags, Meta tags, and so much more. All I knew was that I was gifted at pinpointing the tone and images that resonated with an audience. That partnered with my love of psychology and sociology and my talent for picking up new technology, including website design, birthed this business.
Although I had a great foundation for building a successful branding strategy on paper, I didn’t have the real knowledge that a business owner in today’s market needs. However, after years of real-life experience and countless hours devouring education from the leading marketing and branding experts, I now have that knowledge. Let’s dive into the 5 things I wish I knew about building a successful brand in my first year in business.
1. Building a successful brand is not the same thing as building a successful marketing plan.
When I began my business as a marketing consultant, I thought marketing was the same thing as branding. I used the term interchangeably. Boy, was I wrong. Think about it this way. Branding is who your business is and marketing is the microphone you use to get your voice heard.
2. Branding is not just your logo and tagline.
Although your branding and tagline are important, they are not the only branding a great business needs. Branding is your voice, your colors, your photos, your mission, your vision, and so much more. Branding is everything that makes your business, your business.
3. Branding is built on a story, not statistics.
Most entrepreneurs believe that a successful branding strategy is built on reports and analytics showing what’s “currently working”. Although you can build a successful brand on what the market is currently buying, it is not a sustainable model. Building a brand on a compelling story is not just successful, but it will carry you through fads and trends.
4. A sustainable brand isn’t built on social media, it’s built on your own platform.
Social media is a great marketing channel, but when it comes to building a sustainable brand, it isn’t reliable. Think about it this way… where are all of those MySpace “brands” today? Although Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are extremely popular, they are not guaranteed because someone else owns them.
I am not telling you that you need to create your own social media platform, unless that’s your business of course. So, what do I mean about a brand is built on your own platform? Build your website, your blog, your email list. Build something you control to get your message out of your audience. That builds the brand that your community can trust and depend on.
5. Brands aren’t for everyone, they’re for your community.
I honestly thought that my brand niche was any business that needed my help. But I quickly realized that to build a lasting, successful brand, you had to build it for a small group of people that you can serve like no-one else. Your target market is part of your brand. If you “target” everyone, your brand is muddled and unclear. In other words, if your brand speaks to everyone, you target no one and you don’t really have a brand.
Brand awareness is extremely important for any size business. Here are a few ways to build brand awareness without being “salesy”.
- Give away branded merchandise.
- Offer free premium content.
- Run a contest.
- Launch a podcast.
- Offer a referral program.
- Create “industry-leading” research or how-to’s that everyone wants to use.
- Partner with local businesses to cross-promote as a “favor” to their customers and yours.