What IS And What IS Not A Brand…And Why It Matters More Than You Think.
Your logo is NOT a brand. There, I said it.
Before you crucify me because I just pointed out that you spent a few thousand dollars on a logo, website, and 500 business cards (what is this, 1982?) and still don’t have a brand, hear me out.
I’m not necessarily suggesting you wasted your money, only that perhaps you jumped the gun. You poured the proverbial external paint color before you poured the foundation of the house.
Working from the outside in is a recipe for trouble. Sure, you might guess right and create a brand that happens to be authentic and powerful, but you also may miss the mark completely over and over again.
Taking the time to discover WHY you are in business, WHY you care about what you do, and WHY you care about those you do it for, will always hit the mark and build a brand that can then be adorned with all those superficial representations that are commonly thought of a the brand itself.
So what is a brand?
- A brand is the gut feeling a person gets the moment you or your business walk into a room.
- A brand is what you say, but mostly what you don’t say.
- A brand is the energy that exudes from every pore of your body based exclusively on the level of clarity, confidence, and conviction you have in why you even got out of bed that morning.
Now…tell me again about your brand. This time, in terms of how it makes people feel.
After, all, we are all emotional creatures, from the shy, introverted, negative, skeptical engineer (the old me) to the boisterous, crowd-loving extroverts that love making impulse decisions. We make decisions on emotions first, then back it up later with logic and information.
Therefore, it’s only logical that emotion is the way to a person’s heart, mind, and soul. It’s how we will help a person choose us over our competition.
It’s the one thing that makes us uniquely compelling.
What is NOT a brand?
Window-dressing. Façade. Perfection. Ego.
I could go on with another 20 items. Nothing is more poisonous to a brand of a professional or solopreneur than trying to come across in any way other than 100% genuine.
For example, many of us like to hide behind a sense of professionalism (over-professionalism, if you will) to the point where we want to look, sound, and feel perfect.
The problem? We’re human and, by definition, imperfect. That means perfection (or any attempt to appear that way) is a lie. And every knows it.
And when that lie goes right to the gut of your prospect and overrides any logical thoughts they have about wanting to work with you, you get the “smile and nod” of thanks, but no thanks.
Let’s touch on a few other things that are not, in and of themselves, a brand:
You probably didn’t choose it and I’d guess your value to your clients wouldn’t change even if your name did.
Congrats on being super duper CEO. So what? You can call yourself king or queen of the universe, but can you fix my problem?
Words and personalities can lie. It’s actually a very profitable industry called “acting.” I’m looking for character and behavior.
Logo is to a brand what paint color is to a house. It reminds people of your brand and can add some flash, but it can’t stand alone.
Oh, you sell insurance? Well, so do 18 people in my family and 300 in my neighborhood. And I dislike them all. Have a nice day.
Look, all the above are still important to business, but they will not differentiate you from anyone else. They will not brand you as unique. Only you can do that.
Why a brand is critical.
Your brand is the only thing that truly differentiates you from the competition. While your products, name, title, and even logo can be duplicated (usually far easier than you think), the one thing that can’t be copied is YOU. Well, your brand, to be more exact.
It’s how you will rise above the noise of your crowded industry. It’s also:
- It’s the likeability
People buy from who the like and trust. True. And it’s in that order! If they don’t like you, you’ll never get a chance to earn their trust. Besides, whether your selling a product/service or pitching to investors, they will buy YOU first, your product second.
- It’s the clarity
Ever stumble over the question, “What do you do?” Of course, we all have. Why? Because we really don’t know what we do, at least not at a deep enough level to share it confidently. Without clarity (like driving a car in a dense fog), we are resigned to being business-shy and will hardly move our business ahead.
- It’s the message you need for effective marketing
If you’re serious about business, you’ve probably been conned into thinking marketing is the answer. Marketing is one thing: a directional amplifier. That’s it. It’s not the message. If your message is weak, confusing, and garbage, then you will simply spend thousands making your crap louder. Until you go broke, that is.
For the record, we all have a brand. We may not know what it is, we may not like it, or it may be the biggest reason our ideal prospects run away from us, but we have one.
Ensuring that it’s authentic and compelling is our number one job when it comes to attracting our ideal client.
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