Every 12 seconds a new home business is started. The question is, what are you doing to differentiate your brand identity from the next? We asked some of the top leading experts their advice on what every entrepreneur should know, about building a successful brand? But before we get to that, let’s explore the true meaning of branding, how it differs from marketing, and my six time-tested tips, to help you create YOUR MILLION DOLLAR BRAND.
When Summer and I first launched our direct sales business, online, we made a deliberate decision we wanted to be known for having a “family first” brand. For us, that meant incorporating our children in the story, and sharing how we use the business, as a platform, to teach our children about entrepreneurship, dreaming big and leadership development.
The stories, pictures, and videos we shared consistently showcased family values, a supportive, and equally yolked partnership, between Summer and I, and the freedom that comes, from living The Entrepreneur Life! This included creating amazing life experiences, with the people we love and care about most. Everything we shared was deliberate and tied back to our clearly defined brand.
Rather than making it about a product, or service, we focused on serving others. We shared our learning experiences, the ups and downs, and the success stories of those we worked with. We highlighted traveling the world with our family: staying in hotels, road trips, and what it’s like raising a large family, as entrepreneurs. As a result of our efforts, we attracted like minded individuals, who shared the same goals, dreams, and values we did. We were eventually given the nickname, “The First Family Of Network Marketing.” Now that’s branding!
So, what is a “brand?”
The word “brand” is one of those words, widely used, but often misunderstood. (Kind of like the word “leader”, we will save that topic for another article.) The definition of “brand” is the name given to a product, or service, from a specific source. Used in this sense, “brand” is similar to the current meaning of the word “trademark.”
More than a century ago, cattle ranchers used branding irons to indicate which animals were theirs. As the cattle moved across the plains, on their way to the Chicago slaughter houses, it was easy to determine which ranches they were from, because each head of cattle was branded.
With the rise of packaged goods, in the 19th century, producers put their mark on everything from cough drops, to flour, sugar, or even beer – to indicate their source. For example, in the late 1880s, as Coca-Cola was getting started, there were many “soda pop” producers in the market. Before Coca-Cola could get a customer to reach for a Coke, it needed to be sure the customer could distinguish a Coke, from all the other soda’s out there.
Building Your Personal Brand Matters.
Today, companies aren’t the only things that have a brand. If you’re smart, you will also focus on branding your most valuable asset: YOU! After all, the product you are really marketing (or selling) is yourself. So why shouldn’t you have a million dollar brand, that represents who you are, and what you stand for?
People often confuse marketing and branding for one in the same.
They are two totally separate things working congruent with one another. It’s similar to the sun and moon. Branding is like the sun, in the sense that, it is the ultimate source of energy. It’s ‘who’ you are, the experience you create, and what your customers say about you, when you’re not in the room. Many factors make up your personal brand, but none more important then the results you produce in the market place. One of my favorite quotes is, “When you shine bright people will come from miles just to catch a glimpse!”
The moon’s gravitational pool on the earth is the main cause of the rise and fall of ocean tides. Marketing is similar, in the sense that, it pulls people to you because of the story you tell. It’s the set of tools (Social media, blog, SEO, etc) you use to promote – and attract people to your business. And while marketing may spark someone to buy, branding is what creates long term customer loyalty.
Consider this quote from Howard Schultz: (founder of Starbucks)
“When done right, your brand is your reason for being. It is the unique, authentic, singular value you offer to your customers. It permeates the culture of your company, and it is communicated to your customers every time they see, feel, touch, or experience your brand—not just when they experience a marketing message. Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does.”
Branding is a pull tactic.
It attracts people to you because of who you are, what you stand for, and the results you provide. Branding is strategic and includes; your vision, strategy, execution and company evolution. It is made up of elements such as; logos, tag-lines, websites, blogs, email newsletters, social media, how you carry yourself, customer interactions, and more.
Branding helps build customer loyalty.
Branding reinforces the truths about an organization, and influences purchasing decisions, by occupying a place in your customers hearts and mind. It communicates a promise to your intended audience, and creates a distinct, and memorable, image in the mind of your customers.
We recently conducted a pole on our Facebook page, where we asked our participants what words come to mind, when they hear the word, “Disney.” Over 98% of them associated the brand to words such as: magical, Mickey Mouse, happiness, fun, family vacations and princesses. The promise Walt Disney made, when he created Disney, was every encounter with his films, movies, and theme parks would create happiness through magical experiences. Today, Disney Parks and Resorts exist to make magical experiences come alive.
At the end of the day, branding gives your customers the knowledge to either draw a line underneath, or through, your organization.
And then their is Marketing….
Marketing is actively promoting a brand’s product or service. It’s a way of reaching and engaging people. Marketing keeps your company top-of-mind, among the decision-makers you are trying to do business with. Marketing is a push tactic. Marketing cultivates customers. Marketing promotes a brand’s products – or services in the market. Marketing can influence a customer’s immediate decision to purchase. The main difference between branding and marketing, is marketing promotes intended value, whereas branding reinforces it.
Compared to branding, marketing is easier to control, and comprehend. You write the headlines. You choose the images. You post the Tweets. You measure conversions – or awareness, and determine whether your marketing is a success or a failure. The thing that happens between your marketing efforts, and your customers’ actions – that’s called branding!
Your brand is determined mostly by the results that you produce in the market place.
With social media, we see people all the time who want to establish a brand, with a ‘fake it until you make it’ approach. Unfortunately, posing pictures next to someone else’s fancy car, exaggerated income claims, and “hype” will only take you so far. Some of the best advice I ever received, when I was first starting out, was to ,“help a lot of people go from where they are, to where they want to be in life.” Do that first and you’re brand will take care of itself. Nothing builds a brand faster than RESULTS!
Defining Your Brand.
Defining your brand is a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires you answer a few simple questions below:
What is your company’s vision/mission?
What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
Who is your Target Market?
What values and qualities do you want them to associate with your company?
Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out?
Here are a few simple, time-tested branding tips:
1.) Get a great logo. Place it everywhere. Write down your brand messaging.
2. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand?
3.) Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you wear, your e-mail signature, everything!
4.) Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement capturing the essence of your brand.
5.) Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
5.) Deliver Results. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
6.) Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above, and it’s the most important tip of all. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.
We asked some leading authorities on this subject, to share some insights on what entrepreneurs should better understand, when it comes to building their “Million Dollar Brand.”
Here is what the experts had to say:
“I think it’s important to create content and talk about the journey you are on, as much as, where you are trying to go… want to build an audience of raving fans? Be real and talk about the journey. Were you ever worried about the repo man coming for you? Talk about it. The fake it before you make it days are over.” – Ray Dietrich, CEO/Founder of Ecom Expansion.
“My advice to an aspiring entrepreneur is to be a great apprentice before being a great leader. There is a ton of stuff you can learn if you aren’t afraid to put your ego to one side and learn from someone who can show you the way. Just do it their way to start so you have the knowledge and experience to do it your way.” – Paul Turner, Mind Hack For Marketers.
“You’re not trying out for a movie role. Don’t be afraid to be you and express your personality, because once your brand is built, it’s tough to be someone you’re not.” – Eric Green, Master Connector.
“Marketing is preparing people to buy. Branding is getting them to know who they are buying from, so they buy over and over again!” – Diane Hochman, Founder of The Home And Small Business Network/Queen of Attraction Marketing.
Network when branding yourself. Don’t focus on just what you are trying to sell, and instead focus on who you are trying to attract, and what existing problems they have, that you want to help them solve. Then, when you attract them, you connect with them to see if they would get benefit from what you have to offer. – Ray Higdon, Network Marketing Trainer, Speaker and Coach.
“Forget “build it and they will come”. Build it WITH THEM and they are already there.” – Lisa Grossman, (Aka: “Aunt Lisa”) The Queen of Network Marketing.
” If you are going to brand yourself , brand your authentic self. Brand what you and only you can bring to the market whether it is popular or not. Authenticity is the source of our personal power, our attractiveness and no one can ever knock it off. Let everyone else try to be what is popular. Be you in all of your powerful glory” -Richard Bliss Brooke, Author, MLM Legend, Mentor, CEO – Bliss Business.
A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is — it is what consumers tell each other it is. Entrepreneurs would be wise to pay close attention to every interaction, every touch point, they have with their prospective customers. The most profitable entrepreneurs have a single thing in common. They have established themselves as a leader in their particular industry by building a strong brand.
In the spirit of success,
Travis A. Flaherty
Entrepreneur Life, Inc.
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy our recent training: “StoryTelling Marketing” located inside the Entrepreneur Life **FREE** Video Coaching Library. Click the link above to register for a free account, and to gain immediate access to our extensive collection of Entrepreneur training videos.