The literal definition of ‘brand’ is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.
The part we are interested in is the bit that says:
‘identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.’
Ever walked into an unfamiliar shop and before you ever see the prices on anything you think to yourself…’I bet it’s expensive in here’
Or have you ever looked at a website that is just one page, has low quality images and thought, ‘well, this is either a scam, a company that hasn’t traded in a long time or whatever they sell must be cheap and nasty’
This is the ‘brand’ we want to talk about.
So, as a company owner, how do we build the brand we want?
The first thing to do when building a brand is to decide on your personal values and build your brand on that.
You have to be honest with yourself. If your brand doesn’t match your personal values, you will be in a constant wrestling match with yourself and always pretending to be something you’re not.
This simply won’t work.
NB: If you are an employee of a larger company, you will find you are much happier working for a company that shares the same values as you do.
For example, if attention to detail is very important to you, but the company you work for values speed of work over precision of work, then you’ll likely be unhappy working there.
The second thing to know about brand is:
Everything you put out to the world, is a reflection/indicator of your brand and values.
This means, everything you say and do, any social media posts, how you present yourself at customer meetings. Everything.
Establishing your values
Let’s say you are a self-employed painter & decorator, and you establish your key personal values are as follows:
Honesty and integrity
Attention to detail
Not settling for anything less than perfect
As a decorator, these would be pretty solid values to have, and they are well suited to the occupation.
A muddled message
So, let’s say you’ve established your true values and you are building your brand accordingly. You specialise in high end work that demands the utmost attention to detail and going above and beyond for the customer. You are expensive, but you are worth it.
But hang on a minute, you seem to keep losing jobs to cheap painters who value speed over quality.
And why do you keep getting messages on Facebook asking if you can paint a whole house next Tuesday for £200 cash?
What’s going on?
Well, this is the part where a lot of people trip up.
The actual work they produce is perfectly in line with their values and deserves the expensive price tag. However, the rest of the business is not.
As a decorator, you may never rip off a customer, always be clean and tidy, always strive for the perfect finish and never miss a detail.
But if your website is cheap (or non-existent), you regularly arrive to customer meetings with paint on your clothes and hands, your social media is full of spelling errors, your leaflets look like they were designed by your 5 year old nephew and printed in black and white to save on ink costs.
If you do all this, then your brand is muddled. You’re showing the world you are not fussed on details like having a nice website and clean branded t-shirts, you’re showing you’re happy to cut corners on leaflet costs.
Your product/service is brilliant. But you’re presenting it in the wrong way and to the wrong audience.
You’re trying to sell a £5,000 designer handbag in Primark.
The handbag might be the most beautiful bag ever created, but if you stick it in the clearance aisle in Primark two things will happen.
- People will be shocked by the price because everything else about the place indicates it is a cheap/value store.
- Nobody will buy it because they are the wrong target market
Everything you do affects your brand and therefore your true values
It is crucial to remember this applies to everything, not just the actual decorating work.
A good question to ask yourself whenever you must make a decision on something to do with the business:
Is this in line with my values?
So, for the example of the decorator we could ask the following:
Does the quality of this leaflet match the quality of the work I deliver?
Does my website look clean, trustworthy, and professional?
Do I take as much pride in my appearance as I do in my painting?
Once you start asking yourself questions like this, you’ll start building a brand that truly matches your values and your work.
This will then lead to more of the customers you want and fewer time wasters!
Plus, as a bonus every business decision suddenly becomes a lot easier. As when everything is based on your core values you won’t want to compromise them.
Thinking about trying to get away with one coat of paint on that ceiling? Nope. Your values are the perfect finish every time, not to mention honesty and trustworthiness!
Thinking about buying the slightly cheaper work t-shirts without branding on them? No thanks. You are a professional. You are expensive. So, everything about you must reflect that.
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to establish your own brand. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org