What is branding? - Cendrine Marrouat Photography
What do all successful companies and solopreneurs have in common? They have branded themselves well.

Branding is what helps you make people aware of your existence, as well as the existence of your products and/or services. And yet, many entrepreneurs,  especially independent artists, still do not understand the concept.

Brand: Definitions

    - Wikipedia: "A brand is a name, sign, symbol, slogan or anything that is used to identify and distinguish a specific product, service, or business. A legally protected brand name is called a proprietary name."
    - PersuasiveBrands.com: "A brand is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced."
    - Seith Godin: "A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another."
    - Chris Brogan: "A brand is a promise. You buy Apple because you know it’s well-designed. You buy Coke because you prefer the taste. You take your kids to McDonalds because you know they’ll eat it without a fuss. Whatever the promise, good or bad, that’s why you align with the brands you choose."
    - Jeff Bezos: "Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room."
    - Al Reis: "A brand is a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind or a prospect."
    - Roy H. Williams: "Branding is simply attaching something to your name. A Brand is the sum total of all the mental associations, good and bad, that are triggered by a name."
    - Steve Yastrow: "A brand is the message the customer perceives about the product, which may be something altogether different than the message the marketer intended to send."

Why is branding important?

Branding is very important for three main reasons:
- It makes people aware of your unique selling proposition.
- It helps people recognize and trust you.
- It helps boost sales.

Branding basics

Chris Brogan says it in one of his always-excellent articles: "Decide what you’re going to promise and start there."

The branding journey begins with basic (and personal) questions. Answering them will  help define your specific strategy.

  • What are your values, passions and talents?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What do you want people to say about you?
  • Who is your competition?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Who are your influencers?
  • Who are your fans?
  • What is your style?
  • What is your slogan?
  • Who needs your services/products?
  • Where do these potential customers live?
  • How can you make yourself indispensable?
  • What do you use to promote yourself (social media sites, for example)?
  • Who are your amplifiers (like-minded/complimentary people and businesses)?
  • What are the resources available?

  • Now what?

    Great brands are not built in one day. It takes companies years of research, observation, trials and errors, and patience to finally start enjoying the fruit of their hard work.

  • Stay true to who you are, no matter what happens.
  • Trust your abilities.
  • Envision the big picture.
  • Build your brand on promises that you can keep.
  • Focus on relationships before thinking of making money.
  • Be consistent in your approach both online and offline.
  • Invest in researching, defining and building your brand.
  • Do not be afraid of experimenting.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • If something does not work repeatedly, change your attitude.

  • Remember: Branding is about the WOW factor

    Years ago, during one of my social media classes, a student talked about how most of the websites and blogs in his field look the same and say exactly the same thing. This was a very interesting comment that tied perfectly into the idea of the whole workshop.

    When I advise entrepreneurs, especially independent artists, and small businesses, I always mention that over-inflated descriptions on websites and blogs look bad.

    Please, stop saying that you are a ‘guru’, ‘award-winning’, ‘visionary’, ‘innovative’, ‘outstanding’, ‘leading’, ‘famous’, ‘renowned’, and ‘world-class’. Stop filling the gap in your branding strategy with empty words. Instead, let your customers speak for you. Let them be the judges of your awesomeness.

    Branding is truly about the WOW factor. If you cannot stand out from the competition through your actions, then do not say anything at all. Instead, learn the value of authenticity and transparency.

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