“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” –Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
When we talk about Brand, we capitalize the B. Anyone will tell you that one of the most important parts of building a successful business, after the product or service itself, is the Brand that’s behind it.
Many people think about branding as something you create for your business.
This is a mistake.
A Brand isn’t something you make. It’s already there. What you need to do is discover it. And you need to do it before you start working to create awareness and build a customer base. Before you can reach out, you must answer this: Who in the world am I? Here are the questions you should ask yourself:
- What is my story? When people ask you how your business was born, give them more than just a generic “I wanted to be my own boss.” Let me be clear—this does not mean you need a long answer, just a thoughtful one. Think about where your interest for the product or service you’re selling really comes from. What makes you an expert? Why are you so passionate about it? How does it affect you? People will ask for your story a lot. That’s because they care. They want to support a Brand they can relate to.
- What makes me different? This question pertains not only to your product or service and how it’s different from the others, but also to how you are different in terms of service. Think about why people should want to give you their business. We already know you think your business is better, or else you wouldn’t have started it. Tell us why it’s better.
- What’s the first thing I want customers to understand about my product/service? If you were only able to tell potential customers one thing to sell them on your product or service, what would it be? It’s okay to like a bunch of things about your company, but you need to be able to pick out the strongest point.
- How should my customers feel when they learn this? Once you’ve identified your greatest strength, you need to decide how that should make your customers feel. Maybe they should feel empowered or included. Maybe they should feel warm trust or peace of mind. If you’re selling a trendy product, you might want to fill them with desire or excitement. Sometimes the answer to this can even be fear—think about an anti-smoking campaign that scares the younger generation with images of older people experiencing the ill effects of smoking in their late life.
Ask yourself these questions, and every time you answer, ask yourself why. That should help you arrive at thoughtful, honest answers. Once you’ve done this, you should have a much better understanding of your Brand. It will continue to grow and evolve as your business does the same, but once you have this understanding, you’re ready for a name and a logo.
Be sure to come up with the name before the logo. You should spend a great deal of time on this. You want to come up with a name that is true to your freshly uncovered Brand, but you also want to make sure it leaves you room to grow. For example, if John names his new hamster merchandise company The Hatted Hamster, but then later decides that he wants to expand from just making hats for hamsters to making socks, shoes, and scarves, he’s going to run into a problem. You don’t want a name that will limit you in the future. If you see any potential for introducing new products and services, make sure your name will support it. Additionally, ask others for their opinions. Come up with a few different names and find out what your friends think. Make sure they know you value their feedback, as having a hand in naming your company will likely turn them into loyal ambassadors for your business.
Once you’ve come up with a name that fits, it’s time for the logo. Unless you have a background in graphic design, you will want to hire someone to create it for you. Be sure to consider colors and what they convey. The colors you use should correspond with how you want to make your customers feel. Try out a few different options and, like you did with your company name, ask for opinions. Above all, stay focused on and true to the Brand you’ve identified, and you won’t go wrong.
Brands are organic. They evolve. Just like you’re never too old to learn new things about yourself, you should always pay attention to your Brand. One day, you might find that it’s progressed so much, you need to re-design your logo to match it, and that’s okay. As long as you know and focus on your Brand, your business will be the beneficiary.