The Startup Entrepreneur
11 Uncertainty Street
Do you believe in God? Don’t answer that. Here’s something to believe in: branding. I know what you are thinking. I don’t need to worry about branding now. I can barely make a sale, why should I worry about logos, slogans and colours and all that shiny stuff. That can wait.
But here’s why you are wrong. That’s not what branding is all about. It’s like saying marketing is just about advertising. You would agree that’s an uninformed perspective. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said cheesy things that make my skin dry, but I agree with his assertion that a “brand for a business is like a reputation for a person, you build a reputation by doing the hard things well”. The day you name your business or product, that day the gods hand you a brand blank sheet. And whether you like it or not, that sheet will get populated by a script of your product or business’ reputation or brand. So you better be the author of your own script, else someone will write that for you, and you may not like what it says.
So here are just three simple things you can do to build your brand as a new business or startup.
Build a Brand in Your Own Image
As a new business or startup, you, the founder or entrepreneur are your business’ most important brand element. You don’t have to look to the skies for ideas to build a brand. Do you believe in something? That’s your brand belief. Do you stand for something? That’s your brand purpose. An authentic brand is one that is built with a clear image and personality. And in your case that’s you. Infuse your business with your personality, color it with your values and stamp it with your dreams. It’s not that simple, but if you build your business like you live your life, you will build an image of your business—brand image if you like jargon—that is you. Even if you think your life sucks, still use you, and your brand will resonate with people who also think their life sucks. You don’t need to hire an expert to do that.
Brand the Relationship
In the early days, you will embody your business, and so people’s feelings and perceptions of your business will be based on their relationship with you. Brand that relationship. By that I mean, do not leave anyone indifferent; it’s the easiest way to build a brand. Here are simple things to do to brand the relationship: be nice, be really nice, network as much as you can, and be nice to people. That’s it, really. Hey, I’m not saying kiss ass and let people walk over you. But be nice.
There is an old maxim that givers never lack. Well, sometimes that’s bullshit. But givers never lack friends, I can guarantee you that. One of the key aspects of branding a relationship is gift-giving, and it’s so important I want to give it its own stage. Gifts bond people; it’s the material expression of an intention to bond. So give to those people you want to keep, you know, like your customers. You don’t have a lot of money but you have ideas, a new product that you are selling, and time. Give those. A free idea, some cool info, an added product (like a pair of socks for every pair of shoes purchased), or just spending more time with a prospect on things that matter to the prospect. It is better to give customers freebies on a purchase than to spend money you don’t have on ads only a few people will care about.
That’s it. Top three. There is more I can say, but I did say three so three it is. My brand, uhmm, my reputation depends on me delivering what I promise. You can consider this non-insight a bonus point.
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