by Kevin Vain | May 11, 2015

What is branding? Many people say it’s your logo. It’s a product that you sell. It’s the look of your business. Well, actually they are all right…. partially.

There’s more to it than that.

If you think of branding as your offspring it will give you a better understanding.

A brand must have a soul with core values that are instilled in it from birth. A brand must have a voice to speak. A brand must have a look that is appealing because no one wants an ugly baby. A brand has a personality that affects others around them. A brand is unique and different from any one else on Earth. A brand is your child and it is up to you to give it all the good features and values that you believe in. Your belief system will ultimately be the driving mechanism to attract others that share the same belief system.

So why do we need a new baby (brand)? Was it planned or did it just happen by accident? Understanding your why is important so that others see the need for your brand and the passion and drive you are giving it to succeed. Sometimes we plan on how we will penetrate a market by inventing something new or redesigning an existing system, service or product. There are rare instances where brands just happen by accident.

Brands are always researched, planned, and engineered. In some cases, your company brand can end up being an extension of you, as a personal brand. Meaning, your experience in life can evolve into something that no one else is doing, which will make YOU the asset and then YOU become the brand. Yes, you can be a brand too. Motivational speakers, coaches, financial planners and many other professionals who are front and center are considered brands. So how you dress, how you interact, your personality, your look, who you associate yourself with, your beliefs, and what makes you different are the same components of creating a brand, so treat yourself with the same care you would when developing your company’s brand.

Why Your Dog Doesn’t Count as a Brand
You know those people who say they’ll just raise a dog instead of raising a child? Well, you can’t be that person.

Buying that allegorical dog is like saying “I just need a logo for now. I’ll get to that other stuff later.”

I hear this over and over again. Then I see these business owners again within 3 months of starting their business, asking if I can teach them about branding again because they have no clue where they’re going and their target market doesn’t feel any connection to them.

With no direction, no strategy, and no identity, they’re desperately “trying” new things that don’t make sense, but cost a lot of dollars.

If I got a dollar for each and every time I heard, “I am spending too much money on advertising and I am not seeing any results,” then I would be retired by now.

At the surface, it may appear as if there are many areas that could be the cause for this problem; however, more times than not, it is either a fundamental branding problem or a sales step and sales funnel problem.

This ultimately goes back to the research. How did you research your market? How did you determine their ideals so that your brand would actually be relevant?

Did you do your pre-search before you even started your research?

In branding, the first thing you must do is research if the product or service is wanted and why is it needed. NOT ACCORDING TO YOU, ACCORDING TO YOUR MARKET.

What are the market’s REAL LIFE problems, not their theoretical problems according to your invalidated opinion?

Then how will you solve their REAL problems?

Only after you have that understanding should you build your core values and personality.

Going back to my baby metaphor, if you can build your child and take parts of you and your spouse to mold the perfect looking baby it would be the same as building your brand.
“Hey honey, let’s take your nose. Mine is way too long. Oh, he can’t have your ugly feet. Let’s take mine.”

No one wants an ugly baby.

So compiling all the good into one brand and keeping the thought of solving the REAL-LIFE problems of your target audience will help you create the perfect brand. The icing on the cake would be the uniqueness of the brand. What will make your brand better or different from all others in the world? Luckily, you don’t have to be the genius to figure this out because the market will flat out tell you HOW to be UNIQUE and RELEVANT.

“Ok I have the perfect baby, now what? All it does is whine and cry because it wants to go where their friends are and not where I want to go. I’m the adult and they need to listen to me.”

Trust me I have kids and they always want to go somewhere else and not where I want them to go. Well kids are smart. They know that there is a something that their friends want from them because they have all the good parts of their parents and they are the cool kids on the block.

You, conversely, as a parent have naturally become “out of touch.” Every parent has been there. Their child goes out, deals with their friends, comes back home, repeats what they heard their friends say and mimics what their friends are doing. Some of this experience is relieving, funny, pleasant, or shocking.

After witnessing this, you have a choice, either you freak out, remove your child from the “atmosphere,” or you begin to investigate what’s really going on based off of the information that you are given.

In branding, this is a very necessary and healthy process. In the world of business, this is the very natural and healthy process of your market correcting you when you are not aligned with them. Your willingness to let them correct you is the difference between you being somewhat comfortable or extremely comfortable.

It’s what makes you memorable and meaningful versus forgettable and meaningless. Listen and shape your entire business around the people who genuinely want to try and buy your product or service. Find out why they chose you. Find out why they didn’t choose a competitor? Find out how you can make it better and what they like and don’t like. Now you begin to mold your brand to something that is better and something that your market desires even more.

Now that you have a baby everyone wants to be around and all his friends want to come to your house to play with him, you start to see the growth and the relationships that they start to make. You start to fast-forward in your head about what’s to come and the obstacles that you may face.

As a parent of your brand you have to remember to look ahead and plan for the “rainy days” that you may have. In our next article we will see how your brand is tested in the market and begins to emerge into the “Dating Scene”. Don’t panic like I did with my kids. I will give you some direction for handling your brand, but not your kids.

I am still learning myself.

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