Your brand is not under your control. That may seem like a disheartening statement, but it’s the truth. Because your brand is your reputation and you can’t truly control what people think of you.
Your brand is the marriage of your actions and how customers respond to those actions. What you do affects how they respond. How they respond should affect what you do.
Think about a friendship. There are two components: your actions and the other person's response. You can try to befriend someone. You can persistently spend time with and show interest in them. You can be authentic and vulnerable with them. But it will only be a friendship if the other person affirms and reciprocates.
The same applies to your brand. You can come up with the best strategy and design, but you don’t have a brand until it affects people and they respond.
Being aware that half of the equation is out of your control is vital for approaching what you can control.
Your Brand is Under Your Influence
What you do and how you act as a brand is within your control. It is the starting point for building a good reputation.
Stop and think about the brands that you are loyal to. Most likely they are always there when you need them. They are consistent. They care about what you need and are able to deliver it in a way that works for you.
Is that they way your business approaches people? Is your marketing authentic? Is it one-sided, or does it seek a relationship.
Your brand strategy should define who you are, how you’re going to act, how you want people to perceive you, and the action steps that will communicate your story. A great brand strategy doesn’t equal a great brand, but it’s the first step. It will be the first half of the brand and it will influence how people respond.
So while you can’t control your brand, you can influence it. You can invest. You can be intentional. And you do your part.
Know Who You Are
Building an effective brand starts with understanding who you are. Who you need to connect with and how you are going to present yourself. You need brand values that influence your decision-making and how you act. You need to find what makes you truly unique and decide how you can authentically communicate that.
If you are going to build a relationship, you cannot be one thing today and something else tomorrow. Without a clearly defined brand strategy, you will just have to wing it. Then when you add many team members doing the same thing, there will be utter confusion.
Once you have your strategy in place, you need to pay close attention to how people respond. You can conduct customer surveys, read online reviews, talk to customers and talk to your team to understand how you’re perceived. If you are truly seeking the truth you will find out nice things as well as things that aren’t so nice. Both of these are invaluable to a business owner.
Adapt & Adjust
A strong brand isn’t like a robot repeating the same message over and over. Healthy relationships are based on a give-and-take. You need to engage with your audience. When things aren’t working, be ready to adapt and adjust. When something is misunderstood, clarify it or take a different route.
Building a brand takes time and effort. Understand what you can influence and understand what you can’t control. Your brand is your most valuable asset. You cannot spend too much time working to make it flourish