5 steps to building a brand you love

How does your brand make you feel? It might seem like an odd question, after all, you’re pitching to your audience, so isn’t it all about how they feel?

Understanding your audience is really important (we’ll get to that later), but before you do anything else, you need to know what you’re building and why. ‘Authenticity’ is mentioned a lot in business, but it’s the one thing you can’t buy. You can become more efficient, more experienced and of course bigger, but if you don’t build a brand you love, there’ll always be something missing in its soul.

At Uniquity, we live for financial and professional services. We love brands and marketing and we love seeing clients get excited about their own businesses. Building a brand that excites you can be the difference between doing ok and doing great, so here are five key steps to think about.

1. Don’t pay lip service to ‘purpose’

Building a brand is hard – exciting, rewarding, but hard. We all have days when it feels like our purpose is just to ‘make money’, which is why it’s so important to have a purpose you really believe in. We’re bombarded with words like ‘purpose’, ‘vision’ and ‘values’ all the time – it’s confusing and it can leave us wondering whether any of it really matters.

But it does. Remember, you got into this to do what you want to do, to call the shots, so the foundation must be something you’re passionate about. How do you get there? Ask yourself what you love doing, what you’d do all the time if you could. What makes you happy, proud, fulfilled? It’s not just an exercise in finding a mantra (although it helps to have one) it’s about knowing who you are and what you do best. If you don’t know, your audience won’t either, so it’s important to understand what you really excel at and then push that.

2. Get to grips with your audience

Being absolutely sure of your purpose means the audience you start to connect with will be the right one. There’s nothing more certain to make a brand veer off course than not connecting with the people it’s trying to help. You need to genuinely care about what they’re going through – be excited about their prospects and their next steps.

It’s true that people love brands, sometimes passionately, but it’s not unconditional love. It depends on your ability to capture attention and deliver results. Ultimately you’re there to solve a problem and to do that you need to understand and identify with that problem. There are lots of ways to do it, you can research your audience on social media and you can scour the market to understand what’s available to them. Of course, you can just talk to them (and more importantly, listen to what they have to say). The point is, the more passionate you are about connecting and understanding where they’re coming from, the more successful you’ll be.

3. The experience of transformation

Once you’re certain about who you’re in business to help, you need to think about what that experience looks like. The difference between just going through the motions and building a brand you love is the difference between providing a ‘transaction’ and an ‘experience’. A good mechanic changes your tyres competently and safely – a great one makes you feel like you’re driving a new car.

Yes, you’re there to guide them from problem to solution, to take them by the hand, clearly explain what you’ll do and then do it. It’s about communication, understanding and openness, but the real trick is to leave them feeling like nobody else could have done it, at least not like you. The benefit is twofold, because not only do you both feel great about the outcome, they’ll be keen to pass on the experience they’ve had – and word of mouth is still so important.

4. Be unique

Whatever your field, there are thousands of businesses doing something a bit like you, competing for overlapping audiences, standing up, shouting, tapping their chest. What they don’t have is you. There’s only one you, with your experiences, education and skills. Your quality of being unique – uniquity (we didn’t get there by accident) – is your greatest asset. That might be daunting in a growing business, because you can’t be everywhere at once. But if you start from a place of building a brand that you’re intrinsically in tune with, you’ll be able to spread that passion throughout your workforce.

The thing is, you already know what makes you unique, the trick is to tease it out and get it down on paper. There are some useful exercises you can do to help you. First, you can narrow down the field by finding your brand archetype. When you’ve done that, there’s a great exercise we call ‘three words’ – it’s like triangulation for your brand, a set of unique coordinates to cut through the landscape and define what it is that you do that nobody else does.

5. Create a brand that’s authentic

That word again. We see it in pop music, in politics, on TV and in the papers. Person A is ‘authentic’, while person B is decidedly ‘inauthentic’. But it’s not a magical quality – being authentic just means doing something you truly care about. You can’t fake authenticity, but you can build on it. Do that and your authenticity will come through in everything you do, in the way you connect with customers, in the way they experience working with you and in the way they pass that enthusiasm on.

But to connect in the first place, that authenticity and passion needs to come through in your branding. It starts with determining your unique selling points, setting out your purpose, and must then be reflected in your logo, website, imagery, everything.People are visual and they make quick decisions, so if what you’re showing them doesn’t stand out, people they may pass you by. Don’t forget the value of good copy either – people want you to solve their problem, so telling them how you’ll do it in a way that’s easy to understand, credible and consistent is a really good start. Credibility builds trust – trust builds business.

Don’t be the next big thing, be the first you

As a business owner, you have a blank canvas that most people will never have. While other people need to fit in with a firm’s culture and values, you get to define your own. You get to say who you are, what you love and what matters, and you get to say it in person, on your website, your social media and everywhere else.

So say it. Don’t imitate the rest of the industry or build a brand by the book. Branding is about building perceptions, but it’s also your opportunity to communicate purpose and passion. It’s not about trickery, it’s about empathy. Everyone has a problem and being the right business to solve it depends on connecting with what they’re going through and showing them you’re the way forward.

I love my job, it’s true. But it’s not because I’m lucky to have landed in it, or that I’ve grown to love it in spite of myself. I set out to build a brand that represented the things I hold dear, and as it expanded, together we’ve built a brand that knows and communicates its values. The more I connect with being authentic, genuine and unique, the more I love what I do.

Monday mornings aren’t an ordeal, they’re an opportunity, because I’m passionate about what we’re saying and how we’re transforming brands and therefore the client’s lives that they work with every day. We’d love to help you feel that too. Now is the time to explore what makes you and your brand unique.

Laura Janes – Founder of Uniquity

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