For any entrepreneurs working on getting their company, product, or service off the ground and into the household vocabulary of average working people, branding must be an indispensable part of your game plan, or else you’re doomed to disappear into obscurity.
When entrepreneurs, marketers, and media agents talk about branding, they’re not necessarily just talking about the name, although the name does play an important role. Consider what pops into your head when you hear the phrase, “Burt’s Bees.” One of the most popular cosmetics and toiletries brands in the US, Burt’s Bees boasts a strong brand that includes more than just its unique name. The immediate connotation of the name “Burt’s Bees” elicits the story of its founder, a beekeeper from Connecticut, it’s distinctive yellow packaging, its use of organic and natural ingredients, and its efficacy at reducing dry skin and lips.
By contrast, consider what pops into your head when you hear the name of a celebrity or public figure, say, Oprah. Again, while she has products, her brand includes more than just her physical appearance. Oprah’s brand includes the way she makes people feel, her positive attitude, her financial prowess, and her social activism. All these aspects that come to mind differentiate Oprah from other wealthy Black talk show hosts in your mind — and it’s those elements of a brand that Entrepreneurs need to harness to ensure success for years to come.
For a company to establish a strong brand, it needs to meet two main criteria. First, it must make it clear what and who it is: What are you selling? To whom are you selling it? How will your life be better after buying the good or service your company is selling? Often, this is accomplished with excellent messaging, clear and concise advertising, and visual cues. Natural foods and cosmetics, for instance, usually call on greens and browns to evoke trees and fields in the buyer’s mind.
In addition to establishing who you are, brands also help to establish who you are not — that is, how are you different and/or better than others in your market or industry? Why should someone choose your product or service over that of your competition? Is your delivery better? Is your quality higher? Are your practices more ethical? Your branding needs to make it clear to your buyers that you offer something different enough that they should forgo their usual habits and pivot towards yours instead.
In today’s hyper-connected world, relevance and engagement are your friends. Many brands have harnessed the power of social media to bring internet trends into brick space and turn likes into sales. Others have turned to internal policies like fair trade suppliers and equitable benefits for employees of all genders and made their HR practices an integral part of their public brand. Still more base their brand on their intimate knowledge of the market and use their position as a thought leader to draw in buyers.
As you delve deeper and deeper into your business plan, always be conscious of your brand, from your LinkedIn header to the copy on your website.