“Branding” is a word often stifles business owners. By its very nature, the idea of a brand is in many ways nontangible, and therefore hard to quantify. What does it mean to have a brand? What does it have to do with improving my bottom line?
Creating a brand means looking beyond just the supply and demand of your service, and the bottom line of your business. Ironically, when you do this, you will in turn see your business improve, as more and more people begin to connect and identify with your company.
When it comes to branding, you have to go beyond the basics. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that everyone wearing matching collared shirts and a flashy logo on your building constitutes branding. Those elements are important, but a brand needs to reach beyond just an image and deliver a promise. A philosophy.
As speaker Simon Sinek points out in this TED Talk, once potential customers buy into the “why” of your business, they are much more likely to buy the “what” of your business.
Here are four ways to start building your brand today.
1. Believe It, Say It, Do It.
What is a core belief of your business? Why do you exist? Think beyond the product itself. For example, cars don’t just exist for the sake of being cars. They don’t exist just for the sake of transportation. Cars are great because of where they take us: cross-country road trips in college, to the hospital when your wife goes into labor, and back to our families after a long day’s work. Now that you know what you believe, write it down. Be honest. Think about how you will spread your core belief to your customers. Then do it, again and again. Find others who believe in what you believe (note: that does not mean think like you think, necessarily) and watch your brand grow from the inside, out.
2. Do Something For Free.
Community service and pro bono work are two outstanding ways to build your brand. What’s great about doing something for free, is that as long as it stems from your beliefs, it likely won’t feel like typical work, wasted time or costs. Community service puts your face in front of potential customers, while also creating opportunities for press coverage. In addition, pro bono work can help create a case study or reference for future work and/or clients. These practices have real business benefits for your bottom line, but can also be genuine extensions of your beliefs, and therefore, your brand.
3. Content, Content, Content.
If you have a message, then it bears repeating. Your company’s brand can be established through creating content that carries your message. For example, consider the YMCA: “For Youth Development, For Healthy Living, For Social Responsibility.” There is almost endless fodder for content: news stories, exercise tips, pictures of summer camp activities, opinion polls, videos, and the list goes on and on. When it comes to creating content, don’t worry too much about staying finely tuned “on message”—think on the periphery. For example, the YMCA may post an article about fun ways to stay hydrated in the summer months.
Never miss a chance to put yourself in front of the right audience. This could be as simple as making sure your logo is on all your stationary and in the footer of your e-mails, or it could mean buying a Super Bowl ad. The point is, if you know your brand well; you should also know where and when it should appear. Don’t miss a chance to enhance your brand with those opportunities.
This post originally appeared on www.engagegravina.com