Image source: Frontline Creative
A strong brand increases the value of your company, creates an identity and motivation for your employees, and makes it easier for you to acquire new customers. A brand represents how people know you (or your business), and how they perceive your reputation or the reputation of your company. In today’s noisy world, a strong brand is more important than it has ever been.
A great brand starts with a strong name and logo, but there’s more to a brand than just the visual elements. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t prioritize branding early in their company’s history. This is a mistake. Poor branding impacts your business in many negative ways – and can even threaten the survival of your business.
We asked four successful and respected entrepreneurs and brand experts to share their stories about how branding influenced their lives and helped them grow their businesses.
Personal branding expert, youth marketer, and speaker Ryan Foland thought back to his first few years of speaking engagements when we asked him to talk about his experience with branding. He started out as a public speaker in training, with a passion for business communication and a desire to share his ideas with larger audiences. As a beginner, Foland only had the skills and the training.
I spent three years of my life going to Toastmasters and mastering the craft of becoming a public speaker. I was winning speech competitions. People said they really liked my speaking style. I had a credible job at the University of California, Irvine and I came up with multiple ideas that I thought would reshape the world of business communication. As I became better and better at speaking, I started to go out into the world to find speaking gigs.
When Foland began to pursue paid public speaking gigs, he found himself lost among the hundreds of other people being paid to do the same thing. He felt stuck and realized that the reason he wasn’t getting gigs wasn’t because he was a bad speaker or had bad ideas. Foland wasn’t getting gigs because nobody knew about him. When people would search for him on the internet after meeting him, he had an underwhelming presence.
I knew that there were lots of professional public speakers getting paid and traveling around the world. I wanted to be one of them. I saw them online. I subscribed to their newsletters. I believed that I could do it, too. However, the more I tried to be like those people, the further away the reality seemed to get.
In order to compete with other public speakers, Foland began building a personal brand. He created an online presence that would better connect him to his audience and would make him seem accessible and real. Foland quickly began to see the benefits of his time and energy spent on branding.
After one year of hyper focus on building my personal brand, I went from 200 social media followers to over 100,000, got verified on Twitter and Facebook, was featured on Huffington Post, became a contributing writer for Fortune, was named a Top Youth Marketer by Inc. Magazine, and recognized as a Top Personal Branding Expert by Entrepreneur. I landed not one, but two TEDx talks, was paid to speak in New York, Washington D.C., Oregon, San Francisco, and was flown to Portugal to keynote after the Minister of Economics at the country’s 30th anniversary for their flagship government supported entrepreneurship program. All of this was a direct result of discovering and building my personal brand. I focused on creating valuable content, being active on social media, building my skills in a narrow field of expertise. The benefits were tangible and real. So real, that I launched InfluenceTree.com with Leonard Kim to help others learn how to build their personal brand and experience tangible results of their own.
As a business strategist expert and Chairman of Laughlin Associates, Aaron Scott Young sees many different brand images and strategies every day. Young has noticed one common theme in successful brands: the idea of conveying trust. According to Young, when consumers trust companies, they buy from them. In order to become a trustworthy company, you have to build a brand that shows a “human” side of the business. When your business feels more like a friend than a company trying to profit, you know that you have an edge on your competition.
At Laughlin Associates, we’ve worked with over 100,000 business owners. The thing that sets the average owner apart from the truly successful is a personal brand. People buy from those they know like and trust. That means a business owner that will share their personal side, that will let their uniqueness shine through, will attract more and better clients. A great personal brand is the single greatest marketing advantage in the current business climate.
As a specialist in digital transformation and full-stack marketing, Michael Rava is an expert in building a strong brand. Rava regularly works with companies to help them transform their online presence and form a cohesive, unique brand image. In his advice to entrepreneurs and small businesses, Rava emphasizes stability, uniqueness, and delivery.
Branding for me is a promise made by an organization to the audience. The brand promise tells who you are and what you believe in – what unique value you provide. Branding provides a competitive advantage for brands having a stable asset, economic value and sets expectations.
Social media trainer and branding expert Cher Jones told us that she focuses her branding strategies on her social media presence. Not only does Jones’ entire personal brand depend on social media to grow her customer base, but it also helps the companies she trains foster a more personal connection with their audiences. According to Jones’, social media is a company’s first impression on a customer and sets up their entire perception of the brand itself. It allows for a deeper, continuous connection- of which should be taken advantage.
Your brand is open for business 24-7. People google you before they take your call, respond to your email, say yes to your meeting or consider you for the job. When you invest your time, energy and resources to develop your brand online, you will give yourself superpowers. You will open doors you didn’t know existed, enter conversations you are not physically present for and attract opportunities that can change the game. How you show up on LinkedIn and other social media networks that are relevant to your business, matters. Your website, matters. The posts you share, the content you create, and the way you connect with your network all matter when it comes to how people experience your brand online.
These stories are not unique. There are hundreds of thousands of companies and business owners in the US and around the world who are successful because they spent time, money, and energy on building their brands. They create strong first impressions and stay in the minds of their customers long after the product or service is used.
Branding is not just another marketing tactic. It will be the central core to all of your marketing strategies. Before you spend more money on marketing or launch new campaigns, take a closer look at your brand and consider whether your brand properly reflects you and your business. If it does not, invest some time and a small budget to fix this problem.
If you are ready to launch your business and want help creating quality branding for your business, consider enlisting the help of crowdSPRING’s network of 200,000 creatives to give you great options. crowdSPRING projects offer step-by-step creative briefs that help you outline your company’s needs and allows you to select from over 100 entries on average.
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