Successful brands are often a reflection of the people behind them. It’s almost impossible to think of Apple without Steve Jobs, Virgin Atlantic without Richard Branson and the Oxygen network without Oprah.
By having a strong sense of self and infusing it into their work, these icons created authentic brands known the world over. You, too, can create a brand that’s real, authentic and, most importantly, successful. Here’s how.
Sounds simple, right? Yet many brands falter because they attempt to be something they’re not. Sears, for instance, has struggled over the years trying to decide whether it’s a low-price leader or high-end retailer, an appliance-centric store or a family-friendly shopping center. In trying to be many things to all, it’s failing to hook an audience.
What kind of personality traits does your business exhibit. Is it practical, fun, whimsical, energetic, fierce? Be completely honest, and if you have difficulty, ask some of your employees or customers to tell you what they think. The point here is to get to the roots of your business because once you do, they’ll guide all of the assets that make up your brand, such as the name of your business, the logo style, the brand promise and more.
Sometimes it’s easier to understand what your brand is by thinking of what it’s not. When Steve Jobs looked at how drably designed the personal computers of his day were, he knew there was a better solution. He was not going to stand for poor user interfaces or boring styles, he was going to be different. The company he helped found clearly was, and Apple has remained different long after his passing.
Just knowing what your brand stands for is only half the battle. You also have to know about the brands you’re competing with. Are they like you? What makes them different? What about them can you target as a brand weakness or opportunity? It’s called being brand self aware, and the more you know about the competitive landscape, the more you can differentiate your brand from them.
An easy way to ensure that the brand you’re promoting is genuine is to ask your employees and customers. Let’s say your business is about convenience, but your customers complain that you’re not open late enough. This means you’re not living up to the promise of your brand. Or, consider that your brand is about intelligent product support after the sale, yet your employees aren’t trained in high-level troubleshooting. Again, it’s a brand mismatch – the promise is not authentic.
As the business owner, you’re the number one person responsible for creating an authentic brand. This requires consistency across the board and commitment. An authentic brand doesn’t waffle or change periodically. It builds upon itself and a reputation for being the same. It’s why McDonald’s golden arches aren’t green and why Starbucks logo always is.
Creating an authentic brand is simple to comprehend but can be difficult to pull off.
The key is to be true to what you envisioned for your business and never waiver from this vision.