There’s been a million articles written on branding. A half million of them are on Entrepreneur.com alone.
But the one topic that’s rarely discussed is where to begin on creating your brand. And I think that, unlike most entrepreneurship topics, the answer is easy.
So let’s start with 2 things that some entrepreneurs do wrong when it comes to branding.
First, some entrepreneurs take the approach of finding a popular brand and then start emulating it. These entrepreneurs refer to their brands as “the next XX”. Or they’ll describe their brand as something that is “just like XX, but even better.”
It rarely works out. XX brand became XX brand after years of development. Millions in marketing. And innovative and original products. It’s unrealistic to believe that you can start a new company and immediately become “the next XX”.
Related: Stop Pretending and Just Be Yourself
Second, some entrepreneurs simply create their brand by emulating...everyone! I see it in the menswear business all the time. Every menswear company now posts a picture in their social-media feed of a folded shirt, placed next to a tie, and then a belt, along with sunglasses on the right and a cup of coffee on the left. Throw in a cliché hashtag and-- boom! – you’re a menswear company. I think Mr Porter started it. And everyone else in the menswear industry believes they have perfected it.
But neither of these two approaches ever work. Why?
Because successful branding as a startup requires you to do something completely unique and different than everyone else. There is quite simply no other way to get noticed coming out of the gate. So the approach of doing what everyone else is doing is quite possibly the worst thing you can do from a branding perspective. Playing it safe is not the way to launch your brand.
So again, you ask, where do you begin?
The answer is: start with you.
As an entrepreneur, you will no doubt be handling the shape of your company’s brand. So where better to start than with you? Simply stated, your brand should be an extension of yourself.
So what does that mean? Well, if you have a sense of humor, so should your brand. If you believe in the preservation of the environment, so should your brand. If you have an obsession with craft beer, so should your brand.
I’m not necessarily suggesting that you use your face as the brand’s image. But the brand should reflect your personality, your interests and your approach.
Because your brand will then come off naturally. Authentically. And your customers will notice. And they will appreciate it.
Consumers are attracted to authenticity and they are attracted to individualism. Just like they will see right through a bogus front of a brand you put up, they will also see the genuineness of your brand if it’s a reflection of who you are personally.
Once you’ve determined what your brand will be, be patient. Branding your startup can be a frustrating process, as branding tends to be more of a marathon and not a sprint.
You can slap your logo on your website, your social media and your packaging. You can repeat your tagline until you’re blue in the face. But it still takes years – if you’re lucky – for your brand to resonate with customers.
So hang in there because the process will undoubtedly quicken if you let your brand be an extension of yourself.