As an entrepreneur, do you want a powerful brand and think it’s mainly about amazing images on your website, social, and print materials? Think again. One thing I definitely learned being part of a small, unknown computer called Quantum Computer Services transform itself into arguably the first company to bring the online experience to the masses – AOL – is that brand is way more than a a recognize logo.
Proof is in results. During my 10 year career there, Quantum Computer Services became the brand AOL, a $7 billon dollar company with 23 million members and a wide lead in the top spot.
When I jumped the Corporate America ship and became an entrepreneur, I took everything I learned about branding and applied it to my new business. Here are five key lessons and questions about creating a powerful brand for your own business:
1. Every company has a brand. The question is, “Is it working for you?”
Creating a brand isn’t just for the big companies; it’s for companies of all sizes. We’re all fighting for attention from our target customers. If you don’t create a brand, then you risk not being remembered and not being emotionally attractive. Both are a prerequisite for sales.
Ask Yourself: What is my brand? Is it working for me? Am I willing to make changes if needed?
2. Your brand must evoke a strong emotion.
Neurologist Donald Calne said, “The essential difference between emotions and reason is that EMOTION leads to ACTION while reason leads to conclusions.” Customers buy from emotion and back it up with their head.
Ask Yourself: What emotion does my brand evokes? Do I know how others experience my brand? (Psst! Ask at least 10 people.) Is that the emotion I want my brand to evoke?
3. Your brand isn’t a logo. It’s everything you offer, say, and do.
A brand is an experience with many facets. There are a ton of ways a person can interact with you and your company, for example, marketing materials, business card, website, personal appearance, quality of your product or service, how someone answers the phone, voice mail message, e-mail, and customer support.
Ask Yourself: What are all the ways a person can interact with my company or brand? (Psst! Make a list.) Is each interaction supporting or derailing the emotional experience I want my brand to create?
4. As a one woman show, YOU are your brand!
87% of all women owned businesses have one employee – the woman herself. Who you are and what you do affects everything about your business.
Ask Yourself: What about my brand is “just like me”? Do I support my brand experience in how I dress, speak, and interact with others?
5. Your brand needs constant tweaking.
You have to start somewhere. So, you launch your company and brand, see what works, and you keep adjusting. What ultimately matters is what the customer thinks and feels.
Ask Yourself: Have I given much thought lately about the brand experience I’m creating for my customers? What’s one thing I’ve heard again and again from customers that I need to change about my business?