You don’t own your brand. Your customers do.
A brand is what people say about you when you aren’t around. It is the impression a person has of a company or service and is based on experiences, word of mouth, advertising, publicity, social media, and a variety of other types of interactions that person may have with the individual, company or service.
You own branding.
Branding is a verb.
It is an action you take, either on your behalf or that of a company, to create and reinforce the place you hold in your customers mind.
But how do you know what action to take?
That comes from knowing the story behind the brand. The purpose. The reason the business exists. The WHY.
If you are the founder of a company, the reason you started your business is well-known. You have an emotional connection – one so strong it propelled you into entrepreneurship and the life as a business owner. You understand there is a problem which needs fixing and your solution is how it should be done. And you want to help.
As an employee, you learn about the brand by understanding the origin of the company, the culture, service expectations, and, most importantly, the role you play in relieving a pain point for your target audience. Regardless of the role you play within the company, you have a role to play in the action of branding. How do your actions reflect on those of the company you represent? If you were the recipient of the action, would you think positively about it?
Knowing and sharing your story is key to branding success.
If you believe your customers own your brand and you own the action of creating a brand, it is up to you to guide your audience to the perception that matches your brand.
- Know your why.Ask questions of yourself and of key members of the company. Use the concept of “Five Whys” to get to the root of the reason your company exists. Dig deep and create a why statement for both your personal and company brand. “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it,” Simon Sinek
- Your story is about your past, your present, and your future.“When you know how you moved your company from point A to point B, you know how to take it from B to C.” Bernadette Jiwa
- Culture reflects your brand.It is how you get work done. It is the expectations of service and experience. You and your employees bring the brand to life each and every day – through any and all interactions with your customers, partners, and supporters. This is how you create a space in the mind of others – and how they OWN your brand. “Be sure to connect all elements of employee training to the organization’s key cultural values.” Disney Institute
- Consistently share your story.Bring meaning and purpose to the messages you share about your work, product, or service. And have continuity around how the story is told each time. “A product/service without meaning is a commodity. A product/service plus meaning is a BRAND.” Bernadette Jiwa
- Trust and profits are the result.Trust is not a value. And profit is not a mission. Both come naturally and authentically when a brand is built through a consistent and thoughtful act of branding.
Amy Austin of Austin Marketing helps her clients find clarity in their branding, challenging them to look at the core purpose of their business and using that to develop marketing strategies to build an authentic and thriving business. After spending over 20 years in hospital marketing departments, Amy started Austin Marketing with the intent of moving marketing and branding from a tedious task and source of frustration to one of business transformation and confidence.