There’s Oprah. And then there’s Harpo Studios, her multi-media production company.
She is a brand. Her company is a brand of its own.
As a small business owner, you are a brand. Whether you sell candles, advice, train people or heal people, you became a brand the moment you went out into the marketplace. You are sharing messages that you believe to the public. You have a vision for how you see the world getting better because of your mission.
Your business could not exist without your talents, skills and personality. Look around. You probably know several brands that are struggling because they haven’t embraced these facts.
The Importance of Branding
Some of you might find it difficult to brand yourselves. You understand the value but have difficulty deciding how to be authentic and attractive to your audience. The key is to offer value that also suits your strengths.
I didn’t always know this. In fact, when I started building my brand, I didn’t have a clue. I had a passion, and I went about offering services built around it. Sound familiar?
My passion was for natural hair. Many African American women around me were on similar journeys, learning how to forego the chemicals we’d known all our lives to embrace our hair in its natural state.
I launched a company, created products and services, authored a few books all while establishing my brand.
Once I realized that I was building a following, I knew it was important to pour into what I was establishing with my audience. I wanted control of how I was seen and for what I would be known. I also wanted to stand out because there were so many other “gurus” in my space.
Since I wholeheartedly believe that leaders are readers, I sought out authorities who had written books on the subject.
These four books helped me set an extremely firm foundation for building my brand and establishing myself in my marketplace. The concepts and principals were so strong; I’ve used them now a few times when I’ve repositioned my brand (which many of us have done as we’ve grown). They are considered my “classics” of creating a brand.
In no particular order, these are the books that can help you create a strong brand that will deliver loyal customers and help you establish your value in the marketplace. Instead of writing as essay on each one (which I could), I’ll share 2-3 concepts that make them my favorites.
- You are always making an impression. So what’s your message is what author Frances Cole Jones wants to know. The message applies whether you’re in front of a microphone, sending a post on Twitter or Facebook or standing in line at the grocery store. Be mindful of what you’re putting out in the world.
- Count your assets. We live in the age of comparison. We stalk other brands, and the natural tendency is to copy what we think is working for someone else. I’m a strong believer in considering who we are and the uniqueness that we bring. I like quirky and different. I like transparency and “realness” so I give my audience me - the good, bad and ugly. That comparison behavior will leave you feeling less than who you are which is self defeating. In any room you’re in, you have something special to add to the discussion. Bring it!
- Let’s start with the definition of platform that the author, Michael Hyatt offers which is “...the means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans.” It puts those social media accounts in perspective, doesn’t it? They are your platform.
- Create products that solve problems in unexpected ways. Bake in some “wow.” Understanding the problem your company solves is already business gold. Thinking about how to do it better, faster or smarter than everyone else is what will allow you to charge more and truly establish yourself as the “go to” option.
- Tribe building is the new marketing. LOVE this! And I love it because it’s how I’ve established my brand time and time again. Building a community around your brand allows you to pivot profitably. It also brings you more opportunities than you would be able to find on your own. Genius!
- This book authored by Stephanie Chandler asks, “what do you want your business to be known for?” Something most entrepreneurs miss because so many of us don’t necessarily plan for our companies. We simply jump out and start them.
- Know your target market. It is a subject I’ve written about and talked about in workshops a million times. This book was one of the first I’d read that offers practical tips in finding a target market whether you sell to other businesses or to consumers.
- It’s your unique perspective that makes each authority stand out on their own. Love this too. It’s easy to shrink back from brand building because there is so much competition. To heck with that. No one can offer what you have to offer because nobody has the culmination of your skills, experience, resources and mindset. Believe that, and you’re well on your way to building a highly successful enterprise.
- Self-branding is a strategic process according to author Catherine Kaputa. It does require work. Consider your market, your gifts, your talents and your competition (just a little).
- Your success hangs on your “...ability to maximize the asset that is you…” Powerful and true. I heard TD Jakes say that the reason he had achieved so much in his careers as pastor, author, producer and more was because he knew himself far better than most people know themselves. He compared getting to know himself to dating himself. He has become a master at maximizing his assets.
- Brands have a higher perceived quality. They are in demand. I Love this because on the other side of being in demand is being profitable and viable.
Branding principals like these are game changers for those who are interested in making their mark in their fields. The trajectory of your business and your place in the market is directly related to your ability to define your strengths and your niche and to communicate your value. It is an undertaking from which you can only benefit.
Need a sounding board to work on the concepts? Schedule a free strategy session, and let’s talk it out to get clear.