Branding experts often miss the mark with consulting business owners on how to brand their products and services. Branding starts with YOU! There is no other person in the world that has the mix of life experiences you have. Many people have "similar" experiences, but none have the perception you had on the experience. Your brand is tied to WHO YOU ARE! If you are in a partnerhsip, this excercise works to combine ALL efforts so that one voice is not the only voice heard in a brand (unless you are a silent partner). Therefore, let's dive into who you are first. Conduct this exercise to outline a clear view of who you are.
1. Name 5 occurrences in your past that sparked your idea for your business.
2. Write down the frustration of those occurrences and don't overlook the details. They may make you cry, but it will ensure this process to be successful.
3. Write down details about your product/service that will help your customers overcome challenges you endured along your life's journey.
4. Think of 2-3 colors that reflect you overcoming your challenges that inspired your products/services,
5. Find a shape that explains the purpose of your product/service (#3) without using words. (This part isn't necessary, but will help with those who struggle with logos that include images.)
6. Ask 2 people (one person you know and one person you don't know) to give their insight on your story. It will help if the person you don't know is a mentor/consultant.
7. Lastly, fully type out your COMPLETE story and put all 7 points to this exercise together and you will see your brand come to life.
Now, does this mean that your brand won't change? Of course not! Your brand may or may not change according to the demographic of people you attract along with who you are becoming in the process. Think of your favorite entertainer. For me, I'll choose Mary J. Blige. If you really take a look at her career as an artist, she struggled with her label allowing her to dictate the direction of her brand. Her brand is all about WHO SHE IS and not what others thought would sell. She was always concerned about the demographic of people who initially supported her, HER BASE. She knew that her base supporters would continue to buy her music and appreciate her chosen direction. She was sure about her brand (who she was) and fought long and hard for her voice to be heard. She never copied other artists who came before her or after her. Her product (music) continuously matched who she became over her lifetime. Her fans not only love her music, they, in turn, loved who she was and became.
Your brand will do the same, as long as you stay true to your purpose for providing that product/service. One challenge I haven't mentioned yet is your supporters not allowing you to produce outside of the box they have put you in. Mary J. Blige may have lost a few supporters, but because she understands who she is, she may have picked up a plethora of additional supporters. From time to time, people will want to place you in a box. That box is all about who they see you or your product/service as and not who you or your product/service actually is. One of my social media colleagues, LeNee Javet, explained this very eloquently. She says, "I'm not a goody-to-shoes. I get angry, I get depressed, I curse and I too have a story. Don't put me in a box. I don't like being in a box because you will be disappointed at some point. I motivate because that's my passion. I wake up just to motivate people. However, I do have my moments."
It is very important that we don't allow others to put our brands in a box. That box closes off a lot of opportunity, potential revenue and survival in the marketplace. Setting yourself apart means understanding who you truly are and why you are offering the product/service you are offering. Branding is the public display of the total package of YOU.