By Staff Writer

A brand is so much more than a logo or its visual elements, and building a strong one is often equal to, if not more important, than the product or service itself.

A crowded market, not understanding your target customer, inexperience – all of these factors may affect your ability to be successful, especially as a first-time business owner. It’s easy to get carried away with overcomplicated strategies, but keep your sights on the core elements when it comes to creating your brand.

1. Leverage The Testimonial Economy 

We now live in the testimonial economy. We no longer listen to what others say about themselves, despite what you think you see on social media. Instead, we go online to learn what people say about them. Influenced by their comments, we make a more informed buying decision. Want to build a successful brand? Leverage the testimonial economy by building a community of ambassadors ready to share their love of your brand online. Be careful about ‘paying’ for testimonials. Businesses will get out by tis, and remember a ‘Perfect 5 Stars’ can be as bigger detractor and attractor. Why? When was the last time anyone or anything was ‘perfect’?

2. Create Emotive Appeal 

A key way to build a successful brand is to use emotive appeal by creating an association between the product or service and an emotion. When we understand the key desires and struggles of our target market, we can build a brand persona that shows how our product can help our target market achieve their desired state of feeling. Most buying decisions are emotional in nature. Why do you think so many people buy from people? 

3. Focus On Generating Value For Others 

People rarely remember what you said or did, but they remember how you made them feel. Trust is the most important currency in the 21st century, and the person you’re serving must feel the genuineness of your character and experience your competence first hand. Generate value for others three times before asking for anything in return. If your service is unique, your brand will be solidified.

4. Use The Internal Dialogue Of Your Clients 

Talk your potential prospects’ language. We tend to use marketing words to define our brand. What is your prospect saying to their partner over the dinner table? Are they using words like “alignment, collaboration or engagement?” More likely they are saying, “We can’t get things done, no one cares that we are behind, we are missing deadlines, again.” Use what they say in your branding materials and not gobble-de-gook.

5. Be Known For A Specific Niche 

Don’t muddy your message by telling prospects you are an expert in multiple things. For example, saying you are an image consultant for men and women is a much less powerful message than saying you are an image consultant specialising in women over 40 who are re-entering the workforce after being stay-at-home moms. Being specific allows you to be memorable and the best in your niche.

6. Identify And Target Your Ideal Client 

To have a strong brand you need to know, see and appeal to your key demographic. The best way to do this is to create your ideal client avatar in crystalline detail. Consider geography, age, parental status, favourite tv shows, goals, online status, education level, fears, dreams, weaknesses, dislikes, etc. When you know who this person is, you can shift messaging to speak directly to this person.

7. Be Consistent 

A brand is a promise of an experience and is directly connected to trust. If you want to build a successful brand, first be clear on the brand personality. What are the ABC’s: attributes, behaviours and characteristics of the brand? Then ensure that every interaction a client has with the brand infuses those ABC’s into it. Consistency builds trust and solidifies the brand.

8. Understand Branding Is Not About Positioning 

Drop the belief that branding is about positioning. Your brand is the sum total of how people experience you. Experience goes beyond visual identity and marketing messages. Yes, dial in your messaging, but also look for ways to wow people in their encounters with you. See every touch point as an opportunity to uplift your customers and leave them feeling better about themselves, not just your brand.

9. Find The Intersection 

A successful brand is the intersection between what you love to do, what you are amazing at, and what others want and need. If you love what you do but others don’t need it, then it’s a hobby. To build a brand, your gifts must resonate deeply and fulfil a need for your audience. Do this consistently over time and your brand will become successful.

10. Share Your Brand Assets In A Thought Leadership Campaign 

You used to need a blog in order to market your brand successfully, but these days LinkedIn makes that easy via their long-form post feature. By leveraging this feature, discussion posts, and status updates, you can gently promote your brand assets without appearing to be marketing yourself at all. Focus on sharing genuinely helpful content, experience and wisdom to attract your ideal market.

11. Be Authentic 

Don’t try to be something you are not. Others see through that — and it stifles your confidence. Be who you are (the good and the bad) so you will attract others who “get” you. That’s who you want in your tribe. Make sure your online visual representation matches who people see when they meet you in person. It highlights your confidence in yourself, your skills, and shows your authenticity.

12. Watch What Makes Your Heart Pound 

When you tell others what you do, or share your best with a client or prospect, what makes your heart pound? What gets your juices flowing? What do you find yourself saying over and over again, because it’s so central to who you are and how you (and your company) serve the world? That’s your message. And that’s the centrepiece for what will become your brand. It’s you. Start there.

13. Define Your Brand’s DNA 

DNA is defined as “fundamental and distinctive characteristics/qualities of something” and “unchangeable.” If your team can’t quickly rattle off your brand’s DNA by heart, put pen to paper, Create a list of benchmark brands from an aspirational perspective and find common themes. Identify key qualities that embody your brand. Whether it’s price advantage or niche, define its core and stay true to it.

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