By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.
One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs and business owners face is putting out a brand. It’s something different from simply putting out a service, skill, product, or any other offering. When you put out a brand, you put out something into the world that people can be excited about. You can brand a company, a product, a service, a non-profit, and yourself.
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Since 1985, brand strategist Gerry Foster has already coached around 100,000 entrepreneurs. In one of our podcast episodes, he shares tips on how you can build your own brand.
Unless You Stand Out, You’re Invisible
There are around 1.7 billion websites in the world. With such a competition, it’s getting harder for people to stand out and get noticed. However, you have to understand that unless you’re standing out, you’re invisible.
For Gerry, the first thing that you need to do to stand out is to have a mindset shift. Instead of being the fly that chases, be the honey that attracts flies. If you put out a brand that is distinctive and offers something fresh and original, you’re going to attract people who want to work with you. It’s because they know that you have something that they are looking for.
Brand, Market, Sell
As someone who helps people stand out and make more impact, Gerry advises people to follow the Golden Triangle: Brand, market, sell.
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First, you have to nail your brand, then you market and sell that brand. All these three processes are of equal importance; they have to work together to achieve the kind of impact that you’re looking for.
The job of branding is to differentiate your business and get you known. The job of marketing is to get people to pay attention to what makes your business different — to get you found. The job of selling, on the other hand, is to get people to pay for that difference.
What is a Brand?
A brand is more than a logo or a website. It’s more than the aesthetics, pretty colors, and anything pictorial. It’s more than what people can see. When you buy a soda and choose between Coke and Pepsi, you won’t be choosing the soda because it is in a red can or in a blue can. It’s what inside the can that counts.
The challenge for you is to give people a reason to work with you; to put something out into the world and entice your audience to embrace it and purchase it. You have to make sure that you’re swimming in the so-called untapped market space: Offer something that your audience hasn’t heard or seen before. It’s sort of identifying your customers’ biggest complaint. What are they sick and tired of putting up with? What’s not working? What’s something they want to have worked better?
Part of your mindset shift as someone building a brand is to be an innovator. Many businesses fade into the background because they’re not separating themselves from the rest of the crowd. This is why it’s important to stand out and offer something unique so that you can be rewarded for your individuality.
The Role of a Brand Strategist
Gerry describes himself as a brand strategist and not a brand designer. He doesn’t make logos and doesn’t offer merchandise items. What he does is to help people become a standalone brand. And great brands are those that are built strategically — not visually.
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The decision, however, comes down to you. There are different levels wherein you can play at. First is the me-too level, wherein you are only imitating. You’re only another slice in the loaf. The second level is the so-called me-special, wherein you become an impersonator. You’re putting out something different but people don’t really find that important. The third, which Gerry wants you to play at, is the me-only level. This is where you become a brand that offers something unique and relevant.
Even if you’re a small business that is limited on resources, you can still build a big brand around yourself. You can do so by making the decision strategically — that you are going to deviate and not conform, you’re going against the flow and not with the flow. You are not adopting the me-too or me-special brand wherein you’ll only become an imitator or an impersonator — you have to be an innovator.
What You Need To Offer
Once you make the decision that you want to be an innovator, you need to ask yourself: What are people looking for that they cannot currently avail of?
When it comes to branding, it’s not the product or service per se that people are paying for. It’s the things that make you different. And one of which is your ability to solve a problem that your target audience is having. Two is your ability to provide a better outcome for your market. Three is your ability to perform a miracle; to make the impossible, possible. This aspect is particularly huge nowadays given that we’re living in the midst of a pandemic. You have to be able to make things possible or bring forth a future that your audience never thought could be possible.
The fourth ability is to provide your audience with an emotional payoff. Show people that you can stop them from experiencing negative emotions or from getting frustrated or stressed out.
Building a brand is being able to offer these four things to your audience. It’s not simply offering some services or products.
Make Yourself Distinct or Go Extinct
If you want to become the go-to brand in your particular space or niche, you need to be different and be better.
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If you’re different, you’re the only company or business that can offer something to your customers. And it’s because of your superiority and expertise — your so-called secret sauce. If you have a system, a process, or a particular method, you can also leverage and monetise it through marketing and through offering courses and programs. This is one way of telling people that you’re not only capable of delivering what they’re looking for — nobody can duplicate, imitate, or negate it. You really have to stand out because unless you’re distinct, you’re at risk of being extinct.
If you already have a brand and you want to really establish your authority, you may need to rebrand. Re-engineer, reimagine, and re-tool what you currently have and make it more innovative. Back it up with your secret sauce and deliver what you’re promising to your customers in a way that nobody else can. After all, no one else in the market has the same DNA as yours.
Gerry advises you to brand your brilliance and highlight those things that allow you to shine. Focus on what makes you admirable. Be distinct, brand your uniqueness, and believe in it. To learn more about how you can achieve this, check out Gerry Foster on www.gerryfosterbranding.com.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.