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Your Brand is Good for Business

Wait a minute. How can a brand be good for business I hear you ask? Aren’t businesses and brands the same thing?

No, not quite. Ok, this is confusing, so what is a brand? Any takers?

Yes, its a brand name.

It’s a logo.

It’s a product.
Not really…

It’s an identity.
Not exactly…

To a certain extent, all these answers are partially correct. But none of them are definitive. They are elemental aspects, but a brand encompasses much more than that. I love Marty Neumeier’s definition, taken from his book The Brand Gap —

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation. It’s a person’s gut feeling because brands are defined by individuals, not companies, markets or publics. It’s a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings”.

And here’s the bit I really love…

“Your brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is”.

THEY? The customers, of course. And in today’s world, it’s customers that must be at the forefront of your thoughts when you try to cultivate your brand. Customers are a powerful force — they define brands through their support, recommendation and purchases. Today, it’s never been easier to be a brand advocate because of the web and the prevalence of blogs and social media. Why do you think big brands pay influencers so much for their videos, posts and stories?

As a result, the customer becomes almost part of the brand it helps to promote — intrinsic to its very success. If you can get enough customers to buy into that philosophy, then you have the makings of a tribe — a group of people connected by the love of your brand with the will to sustain it. This should be the goal of every business, large or small, to cultivate a group of people that can, and will help build your brand. If you can create a community that shows loyalty to your brand, then you’re on the path to success.

These communities or tribes don’t have to be huge for you to be successful. Kevin Kelly, the executive editor of Wired magazine, wrote a great article called ‘1000 True Fans‘. His theory is that you only need 1000 true fans to make a living as a creative/maker. A true fan will buy everything you’ve ever made. He or she will travel to your event, buy your book, subscribe to your newsletter, follow you on all your social channels and share your work with everyone they know. A true fan is dedicated to your purpose and message. What he’s saying is that you don’t have to appeal to the masses to be successful. Instead, have a narrow focus — mean a hell of a lot to a relatively small number of people, and they’ll be the best marketing team you’ll ever have.

Alina Wheeler, in her book Designing Brand Identity, says “People fall in love with brands, trust them, and believe in their superiority. How a brand is perceived affects its success — whether its a start-up, nonprofit or a product.”

Brand perception is undoubtedly something, you, the business owner, can influence. I like to ask my clients very early in the identity design process how they would like to be perceived. It’s an essential question because it sets the tone for the rest of the process. The perception of your brand can be shaped through your creativity — the process of positioning, naming, designing the identity, and messaging. This is where you infuse personality, culture, feeling, impact and differentiation into your brand. Where you cultivate the big idea, the hook that draws people to it. This is how you influence that ‘gut feeling’, Marty Neumeier spoke about and where you start to build your tribe.

Understanding how you as a business owner fits into this equation is fundamental to your success. It’s your job to shape the perception of your brand, not define it. Gather together a loyal customer base who will define and champion your brand. Through their advocacy and support, the brand will flourish, and as a result, so too, will your business.

What’s been your experience building a brand? Have you cultivated a tribe of like-minded people to champion your cause? Do you have any questions about the article? Get in touch and tell us your story, and with your permission, we’ll share your opinions and answer your questions in the next issue.

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Brian Byrne is a graphic designer and founder of Lands.


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