If You Don't Give the Market the Story to Talk About, They Will Define Your Brand Story for You

This is actually a quote from David Brier on branding. Branding is such an important concept in business, specially for tech startups and first time founders which is normally underrated. This is one of the most important aspects of the business and need deeper attention. Let's dive in.

Branding is one of the main pillars of business and normally it has been underrated by tech businesses, including startups. What branding does for you and your business is the very foundation of your relationship with your target market and also existing customers. Branding, is the promise that you make to your customers.

Please note that I am not talking about your slogan. That is not branding. Of course, slogan is only one small element of your brand identity. However, everything you do and do not do, identify your brand and brand positioning among your competitors. This is including your logo, slogan, colors that you are using, website design, marketing messaging and materials, sales team and your sales language, how to treat your employees and customers, your office arrangements and so on.

Branding is everything you do and do not do!

You always need to be aware of what brand message your competitors are using and how their branding is evolving. Let's remember that it is absolutely Ok for brands to evolve and even re invent themselves. However, the frequency of changes are very important. You simply cannot change your brand every month!! I have seen companies that evolve their brand every 6 months or every year, as long as the changes are incremental.

If you want to re invent the brand, you may be better of to create and build a totally new business!

As a tech startup, you should work on your brand voice and message. Use as few words as possible. Express your big vision. Do not be scared of sharing your ambitions with your target market. Tell your customers who you are, what you do and how you do it. Of course in few words.

Show your true passion through your content, marketing campaigns and sales language. Establish your relationship with your customers very clearly. Are you going to be trusted advisor, high end luxury service provider, cost effective alternative in the market, 24 x 7 consultant, disruptor, innovator etc.

Brands, should show emotions and at the same time, show why you are doing what you are doing backed up by data. craft your story in a way that both right and left brainers can communicate with your message.

Left brainers understand the world through details, logic and numbers. On the other hand, right brainers perceive the world through emotions. Your story should consist of both side of the coin. Craft your vision and what is the end game for your target market, and then back it up with numbers and data.

Do not pitch!

Not now!!

Do not use your branding story to pitch your products and services. People hate pitching. Simply tell them the truth about your back story, why you exist and what is the end game. This is not a copy write. This is not an advertising platform. There will be times that you will do that . . . a lot! But not when you are trying to catch the eyes of the customers. Build relationship with them first and then and only then you can sell.

Articulate why and how you are different. Explain your point of differentiation. Why your way of doing things are superior to the competition. Do not use or over use buzz words (better, faster, cheaper etc). These words means nothing and everyone are using them in their marketing materials.

Talk about use cases and case studies. How you helped your other customers (in blogs, videos, podcasts) and interview them. Give them publicity. Make them shine through Press Release (PR). Let your customers sell you and do your job.

You can use different social media platform to tell your brand story. Focus on one or two that your target persona and target market are heavily using. Show them the back stage and how you actually run your business. Share day to day challenges of operating the business (boring stuff) and share your wins and losses. This should not take you more than 15 min per day. Plus, it is fun to talk about yourself!!

Ask people outside of your business (customers, prospects, clients, strangers, competitors) how they perceive you. That is your brand. Period. It does not matter what you say about yourself. How you have been perceived is your brand. If you want to change your brand, change people's perception. Focus on those activities that you want to be known for. This is both for personal and company brand.

There are some cases that the founder of the business decide to build the company brand around himself. This is a risky strategy. If you are celebrity startup founder or business owner, yes. Absolutely go for it. However if you are first time founder or small business owner, and your name does not mean anything in the market place, there is no point going to t hat path.

You can easily test that idea. Go to the market place or series of companies and ask them how much money they are willing to pay you, so they can have you in their firm. Or, simply how much they pay you if they hire you.

If the number is anything less than $200k (in Australian market) then it is highly likely that you are relatively unknown. If it is between $200k to $600k (AUD), then it means that you have minimum level of value. If it is between $600k to $1 Million (again in AUD), it means that you have a good reputation in the market, but of course you are not a celebrity yet. If you salary is more that $1 Million per year, this means that your name alone + your skills can generate at least $25 Million in revenue for the next year. Guaranteed!

I just asked one of my friends "what do you think when you hear my name?". He just said: Legend.

That is always good to hear . . .

Here you can find more info on 4 key components of digital branding strategy in 2020.

If you want to build a world class brand, you need to make sure that you are putting your customer in the heart of your business. This looks a no brainer and common sense. However, there are heaps of companies that putting themselves and their P&L (Profit & Loss) on top priority. I am not saying that having a profitable business is not important. It is absolutely vital. However, start your brand story with your customer's pain point and the story of how you are solving it. Put you customers in the heart of everything you do (like Amazon) and only then, you have a world class brand.

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© 2020 by Houman Asefi