Your Brand Development Strategy: Be Yourself
“Who in the world am I?” Alice in Wonderland
Many people say that your branding should be influenced by your customers’ wants and needs..
We don’t buy into that. People’s wants and needs change and if that’s your focus, you’re going to be constantly rebranding. As Steve Jobs said: “Why do we want to ask what our audience thinks? We don’t care what they think.” And why should you care? You don’t ask your friends to shape your personality, so why would you ask your customers to shape your business’s personality? Your business’s personality can only come from you.
Companies that have great brands, like Apple, Southwest Airlines, or Virgin, simply do what drives them or, more specifically, what drove the founders. Apple represents Steve Jobs’ creative personality; Southwest Airlines represents Herb Kelleher’s carefree, fun, loving personality; and Virgin represents Richard Branson’s fun-loving, rebellious personality.
Creativity & Uniqueness = Great Branding
We believe that if you’re passionate about your business, you have the same drive as the founders of these businesses, and that by following your passion you can be truly creative in your business. You didn’t get into business just to be like everyone else. If you simply follow the herd, you’ll be like the majority—mediocre. You’ll lose your chance to create something special.
You’ll never be able to please everyone because everyone’s different. Isn’t it better and less stressful to simply please yourself? Steve Jobs, Herb Kelleher, and Richard Branson didn’t care what anyone thought. They had an unwavering belief in their vision and all were fearless.
Market your business without fear of what people will say. Be perfectly clear about who you are, and you’ll get more than your fair share of business.
You may argue that your business doesn’t lend itself to the same creative possibilities as Apple or other businesses. We believe that any business can be creative. It’s just that most people don’t see the possibilities because they’ve been told they have to do things a certain way. That’s why so many businesses are boring and indistinguishable from each other.
People want to be wowed and only you can do that. And branding is critically important to create that wow.
The Brand Development Process
The brand development process is really a process of self-discovery—detective work. It’s finding out and documenting your business’s vision, mission, philosophy, values and beliefs, and character traits. These can all be summed up in one word: personality. They can also be described as the culture of your business.
No outsider can just walk in and slap a brand on your business without doing all the digging that’s required to uncover these things.
If you’re passionate about your business, formalizing your vision, mission, philosophy, and values should be pretty straightforward. You’re the only one who can truly know these things. But when it comes to personality, we’re the worst at assessing ourselves. You may think you’re serious, down-to-earth, and rather ordinary, but if we asked some of your friends, they might say you’re funny, pompous, and a bit unusual.
So it might be best to do your self-discovery with someone who can be more objective than you can.