Building your brand is an incredibly significant component in positioning your enterprise and laying a strong foundation for growth and sustainability.
If you are just now undertaking the adventure of establishing a new business, one of the most significant aspects of launching your startup might actually be in danger of being overlooked. In the rush to put all of the necessary pieces together, some entrepreneurs fail to take the correct steps toward embodying the essence of their startup within the confines of brand identity. Rather than being an intentional effort at the outset, the creation of the brand ends up becoming an afterthought at best and a complete omission at the worst.
An omnipresent aspect of 21st century daily life is the existence of corporate branding, literally millions of logos and slogans pouring out of every conceivable communication outlet. The average person is so acclimated to the mental association of a brand with its corresponding product or service that the complex nuances behind the creation of the brand can be taken for granted. And well beyond the simplicity of a graphic or a corporate name is the multi-layered back story of what the actual business enterprise embodies – its mission, purpose, and vision.
Are you the creator of a sole proprietorship? A small business? A nonprofit? A smaller scale venture coupled with a likely modest operating budget might tempt you to underplay the importance of developing your brand. If you find yourself in a position of being overwhelmed with the complexities of legal, tax, and administrative setups, the last thing you might be worrying about is creating a logo or developing a catchy slogan. Even if you don’t find yourself adrift in startup woes, the branding concept might seem like an unnecessary step, an unwanted delay at a time when you’re raring to go, ready to bust out of the gate toward your business goals.
A look at the origins of the term “brand” can help in appreciating its importance in the defining of your business. The English word has its beginnings in the Old Norse word “brandr”, which referred to fire or flame. The original definition of branding was using a heated iron to singe a unique identifying mark on items such as barrels. This later translated into ranchers placing their symbol on livestock, and by the year 1889, “brand name” had become a terminology denoting any identifier of a particular entity or company, regardless of how it was created or applied. And yet, there’s a great significance to the fact that the origin of brand was centered around fire, because remembering that can play a key role in how you look at branding in the context of your own enterprise.
Just as a brand could only be created with the use of fire, so should the fire that drives you to pursue the mission of your business or nonprofit serve as the catalyst to create the identity that helps present what you’re offering to those you want to serve.
Having a lukewarm approach to your venture will relegate your efforts to simply going through the motions, and you’ll have little or no chance of inspiring anyone else to buy into what you’re doing. Trying to present your work to anyone outside of your enterprise – whether a customer, investor, or prospective partner – will undeniably fall flat unless you can share something that truly embodies the passion of why you do what you do.
Another relationship to the origin of “brand” is the idea of leaving a lasting mark. Brand recognition should be one of the most important goals you pursue, but realize that this can only happen as the result of hard work, patience, and perseverance. Having an intentional approach in developing and promoting your brand will allow you to infuse the story of your enterprise at every level. Those on the receiving end of your services will not only establish a mental connection between you’re branding and what you provide, but they’re more likely to invest themselves in supporting your endeavors because you’ve given them a deeper perspective of what you’re all about.
Once you’ve taken the necessary steps toward building a brand identity, the next logical step is to ensure that this snapshot of your enterprise is well represented in every public-facing aspect of your structure. Having a distinctive brand residing within the various facets of your social media and website is a solid start, but it’s also important to not overlook the incredible marketing potential of placing your branding on physical items. Whether given away as promotional materials or presented as straight product sales, branded items allow there to be a tangible reminder of your identity in the hands of your customers.
Always remember that your brand itself is much more than a graphic art representation – above everything else, it has to be an honest and transparent expression of the work you do. Maintaining a spirit of excellence in carrying out the daily operations of your organization, placing a strong emphasis on investing in true customer service, and consistently looking for ways to give added value to your customer are never optional. As you carry out these efforts through your daily operations, the automatic byproduct will be an infusion of these values into your overall organizational identity.
Never content yourself with simply creating an image to serve as a symbol for your company. Determining to offer your products and services in a way that clearly differentiates you from your competition will provide a solid foundation for everything embodied in your brand, and there will never be a better way to represent yourself.
Interested in learning how ValorExcel can help you with your branding, contact us at 240-329-9387 or visit www.valorexcel.com/businessservices. Or, do you want to get a deeper perspective on the overall health of your small business or nonprofit? If so, download your free copy of the PDF, “Taking Your Organization’s Temperature.” at www.valorexcel.com/takeyourtemp. Lastly, make sure you check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Each episode is designed to help you work smarter, not harder.