Recently I met with a potential client.  He was interested in working with me on his marketing.  He is launching a new brand in an industry that is quite foreign to me, just the thing that gets me excited.

As our discussion progressed, he mentioned a friend of his who had told him that branding was very important. What he was actually referring to was the visual branding of the business, not the brand itself. It’s not surprising, as small business owners, our road is varied to business owners is varied. Some start with a side hustle, others move from a trade to business ownership or others have it thrust upon them by a change in life circumstances.  Regardless, getting sales tends to be our priority and it’s generally not until our business is established that we turn our minds to marketing, let alone branding. I took the time to explain to him the six elements I use to help my clients build their brand. 

We started off with Brand Purpose.  It sits at the core of your brand and is why you do what you do.  I love this aspect of defining the brand.  I gently probe my clients until we get deep down into the why they are in the business they are in. I have been known to be brought to tears.

Then we discuss their Brand Values. What their brand stands for, these are integral to the brand, because they set the direction for the way the business behaves. The Brand Values are like the compass that we follow to ensure our brand is always heading in the right direction.

Next, we progressed to the Brand Name and the opportunity this represents to tell your potential clients a story before they know anything else about you.  A powerful brand name can even commence the process of connection emotionally with your brand. An often-missed opportunity.

By this time, he was staring at me opened eyed.  Undeterred, I continued on.  There is no stopping me when I start talking about branding.    

Next, I touched on Brand Personality, and how important it is that you brand personality reflects your Brand Purpose and Brand Values.  It is the consistency of how your brand is presented that starts to build the grains of trust with your key stakeholders i.e., staff, suppliers, clients, financiers.  A gamut of people that engage with your business. 

On a roll, I launched into Brand Differentiation, that it is critical to be different to your competitors. Ideally your Brand Differentiation strategy should make it difficult for your competitors to emulate you or to chip away at your points of difference by copying elements of your strategy.

Then I took a big breath and broached Brand Positioning. More than simply a positioning statement and positioning line, I like to also define the sensory aspects of the brand. What does it look like, what is the tone of voice we use?  Is there a distinctly physical aspect to the brand? How does it look? Even down to how does it smell? Not all of these elements apply to every brand, however it is another layer that you can add to your brand.

After my monologue, the poor man looked at me and said “I had no idea.”  Of course, he is not alone.  There are very few people who run their own businesses that understand what creating a brand involves.  Nor do they understand how a powerful, engaging brand can add value to their business by building trust.  

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 has shown that the only trusted institution is Business. Their conclusion is that

“people clearly expect business to step in and fill the void, and the high expectations of business to address and solve today’s challenges has never been more apparent. The heightened expectations of business bring CEOs new demands to focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy used to deliver on profits.”

As CEOs of our own businesses our brands are the cornerstone of our ability to build trust with our key stakeholders. How are you using your brand to build trust with your key stakeholders?  Share your feedback below.

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