Easy Steps for Building yourself a Brand – Let’s get started:
In today’s world we have brands all around us, each and every item we use from coffee in the morning to wake us up to the airlines that take us on our holidays / business travels. We recognise brand names instantly and sometimes it is the logo we relate with our maybe even colours / font / music / voice overs and more.
What is a brand?
“A brand is an intangible marketing or business concept that helps people identify a company, product, or individual.” source investopedia
This tells us that a brand is the business and not so much the logo / identity which are the marketing tools.
Many of us wish that we could be the owner of a brand and especially one within a business sector that interests us. We also know that it is very unlikely that we will ever own a famous brand as we see them as massive corporate organisations owned by share holders with countless employees and responsibilities – Maybe it’s more the vanity we are after, the turning up to award ceremonies, the interviews on TV / media or the idea that we can get rich and float about in an expensive luxury car?
Brands come in all shapes and sizes.
Many of us that are self employed will also be an owner of the brand, that can be from a simple window cleaning round where it is just a person’s name on their business card to an account selling items on Ebay – turnover can be small to £$€ millions annually. We can be locally well known or very used to having exposure and clients globally though all these combined, what ever level you are at, you will be a brand.
Building a Brand in Easy Steps:
To tackle this article and to make things as easy reading and more likely to be successful for the reader, I decided to write things down as if I were to once again create a brand from scratch. Having built and sold several brands, my suggestions would be the following:
- The idea: You will need an idea and the ability, money and time to perform within your business.
- Basic Research: I will admit that I have never created a business plan for any of the businesses that I have created. Like many successful entrepreneurs, I have as many failures as I do positive business stories, but the basis of them all was set by some basic research. Is what you are looking to do already being done, who is doing it and how many will you be competing against? Are those doing similar dated in their approach, do they seem successful, are there gaps in the market for your idea or can you change things slightly to become that new concept on the block? Are any businesses you are competing against local so that you can spy on what they are doing or if not, can you investigate online how much many they are making (companies house records) or their engagement they get via social media?
- Your commitment and stamina: How much time can or will I put towards the idea? Am I really motivated to make this work and have I the focus to do what is necessary to become successful – Only those who push the hardest will succeed in reaching the top. Can I cover the costs in pursuing this business, do I have the support of loved ones and very importantly, am I prepared to fail and fail again in order to succeed?
- Name and presence: For me the biggest part of setting up a brand was in the name and claiming it’s identity online especially with domain names and social media accounts/ profiles. There is nothing more professional (and trustworthy) when a business has secured it full name in both domain registration for .com and it’s country (ie .co.uk) and also social media channels and groups which includes no abbreviations / added digits ie Samsung1 or SamsungUK rather than Samsung. You should at this point also expand your social media reach by building dedicated to topic groups (this is what has helped me create bigger brands and recognition within industry sectors) – Think about choosing your topics surrounding your business and starting groups on key words.
- Logos & Design work: If I had my time again in business I would have always spent more on logos / branding and yet in my early days I always economised as much as possible. I used stock images over my own copyright images, I tried to create logos myself instead of simply paying out £50 on the likes of Fiverr, I did not adhere to consistency and this is what would have contributed to my early failures as trust in my brands would have been very weak. Start from day 1 with amazing branding for your business to include logos / colour codes / text font / info-graphics and more and think, all the time, that word consistency.
- Website / online presence: If you can and budgets permit, stick in as much time and monies in to your website as possible and keep things simple and highlighting what you offer and what is in it for the customers (my old business networking days comes in to play here with WIIFM – What Is In It For Me). Someone arrives at your website and you have seconds to capture their attention – Think this when designing your website. Some businesses I have there is no website and instead only a social media presence, so then in this situation you need to carry this thought process over from our website guidelines, so keep branding consistent / highlight what you do in descriptions.
- Network and Network again: Once you have your idea, your name, your branding, your presence online then you need to get out and about to network. You can, like I did, start off at the basic level and do the early morning business networking breakfast (ie BNI) meets locally – Though I can save you time here and advise you to get to the where the real people you need to meet are at. Research online events / shows / exhibitions and more that are focused on your industry, these are the places to go even if they require a small entrance fee. Physically you can network, but also virtually via social media where there are countless groups / pages / accounts that are target to your industry sector – Do not be scared to introduce yourself and / follow / like and more those you would like to connect with and this includes even those of celebrity status (I have had many celebrities reply following messages I sent them on social media, many I have gone on to do work with).
- Content, content, content: Do not stand still, make sure you deliver continued content so that people know you are the source of great information / education / entertainment / engagement within your sector. Do not be shy ever – Write blogs, posts, take photos, do interviews, live feed videos and more – You can not be humble in showing your expertise and especially if you are starting to build yourself an audience, many will find you a great influence and expect you to be consistent.
- Investors / Investments: You can either put yourself on the market when it comes to seeking investment or from time to time you will be found and approached. You should be fully aware of whom wants to invest, how much you are going to request (£) and offer (shares). You should always take legal advise as if you go on to create a big brand then every single % of your business will be highly valuable and also bring with it certain rights (and expectations). Make sure paperwork is legally tight in your favour and try not to water down your business too soon. If you can, try to gain investment from close ones to you and especially family members (this is my opinion) though be aware that they need to know there is risk to supporting you.
- Resist slacking and do not take to heart the trolls & haters: Just when you are starting to make your mark in your industry you will get the inevitable haters / trolls – This is very normal and we all have them! Sometimes they are those unknown to us and could very well be rivals in disguise and then sometimes it is those close to us showing their true colours when they realise you are starting to become successful and they show their jealously.
- Evolve: Many of the businesses I have done may have started off as one thing and in time ended up as something different – As you gain knowledge and understanding within the sector you are working in then it is not a bad thing to evolve your brand and services when required or if income dips. If one thing does not work then do not give in as you are now building your brand and this has a value.
- Influencer: A word I am not too keen on though as you build your brand then you will inspire others so see this as an arm to your business – This includes guest posting, guest speaker slots and more. If you are good at your business then why not share this with others, most times this not only gives you exposure, but it will also highlight positively your business. Contact media outlets and offer your services to contribute for free – This is not as difficult as you think, a simple tweet or DM to a local / national radio station stating you are an expert in a certain field and open to be interviewed will many times get you a response.