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Personal and business branding is pretty overused in these days. Everyone wants to build his or her own brand. Some of them even want to create and sustain their brand with as little work as possible. If you are one of those people, you don’t have to continue reading because I’m not going to give you any tips or tricks for building it without huge amount of effort. For the rest of you not afraid of hard work let’s take a look how you too can build strong brand in any field.
Questions and answers
Building great brand is not easy, rather the exact opposite. When you devote yourself to it, you are starting a marathon. However, before making any leap, jump or starting the run you have to ask yourself where do you want to establish you and your brand? You have to ask yourself series of question to understand what your brand will be about. This personal research is as important to create a plan and strategy you will follow as researching the market and looking for gaps.
In order to create a brand you have to put together an action plan. This plan has to answer every what, why and where question you will have and it will also include your mission statement. For example, What is the purpose of your brand? What are the key qualities? What are your strengths (and weaknesses)? How your brand should be perceived? What emotions should it evoke? What experience should it provide? What words should it be associated with? What its mission should be? Think about it as a person instead of brand. Also, think about the industry or field it should focus on (at least in the beginning).
While answering all these question don’t forget to touch the negative ones too. In order to create a brand able to handle every situation you need to answer the “don’t” questions. Just take the questions in previous paragraph and turn them around. How the brand should not be perceived? What emotions should it not evoke and what experience should it not provide? What associations should it avoid? What kind of business or fields should it keep from? What practices should it not use?
Your plan has to cover both of these perspectives, positive and negative. Only then you will be ready for the next step, which is …
Plan meets action
The next step after researching your options and deciding what field or niche you will choose is to get to action. In other words, here comes the hard work. This is the moment when you have to do the first step in your plan and get momentum. Every strong and stable brand is preceded by enormous amount of hard work and effort. All of that has to be done over long period of time on a daily basis. Even Rome wasn’t built in one day. Remember, no matter how great your plan is, without action it remains only worthless dream.
Take a look at the plan you created and do the first step and then another one. You have a lot of work in front of you so you had better start as soon as possible if you want to create rock-solid brand before your funeral. By the way, if you are not a prophet or oracle you probably have no clue about how much time you have, so start hustling!
Brand should dominate before going big
We’ve talked about the generalist vs specialist subject couple of times already and if you are following my blog you know that I am more for the Renaissance type of man or the generalist rather than specialist. However, before making any further decisions, I am also convinced that you should pick one field and dominate it first. Meaning, in the beginning you should pick one niche, field or skill and master it, i.e. dominate it.
When you will get this job done only then you can expand into another one, not sooner. How can you see your position is stable? Do your research. Find out how often your name or brand is mentioned in the field or industry you chose. Are people talking about you a lot, mainly in the positive sense? Do other people want to work with / for you? Are there positive testimonials on your brand? Not everyone has to love you, but they must be satisfied with your work. Otherwise, you should consider making some corrections.
After your brand is a solid “A” player in the field you’ve picked, then you can cross the Rubicon so to say. If you are not sure where to expand or you are worried about making the right decision, let me tell you something. First, forget about looking for THE right decision. Decide, do, observe the consequences and adjust your course. Second, the safest option for your expansion will probably be adjacent to what you are dominating now.
The reason why it is the safest option for your brand to pick is first, smaller amount of knowledge you have to learn and second, your current contacts might be interested in giving you chance to work with them in this area too. Both of these reasons will shorten the time necessary to stabilize your brand without getting hurt. That’s important. No matter how much you want to expand you probably don’t (and shouldn’t) want to damage your brand.
Building successful brand is a very long process and you will find out that all you stated in the beginning is continuously evolving. Sure, some fundamentals will remain the same, but another will change shape or even vanish. That is okay. Brand, and business, is more like a living organism rather than static image. It has to adapt to the environment it’s living in so don’t try to mitigate it, slow it down or stop it. Take it as a sign of evolution in positive sense and be thankful for it.
Building a brand is not for everyone. It requires planning and execution from your side. You have to be willing to work extremely hard for a long time to create really strong brand that will be able to endure the tough times and not just survive, but to thrive. If I can summarize whole process into simple formula it will be: PLAN + HARD WORK + PERSEVERANCE + PERFECTION = STRONG BRAND. Are you willing to do what’s necessary?
I would love to know what are your ideas on building the brand, either in terms of company or personal. Do you have any experiences with this process or did you even create one? What advice would you give to anyone wanting to create his own?
Good books on subject:
Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries
The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design by Marty Neumeier
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