Most business owners don't understand branding – even those who have been around for decades. That's OK. If you are running a business, it isn't your job to be a branding expert. It is a full-time job just to stay ahead of how branding is evolving as a science. Major universities offer entire degree programs on it.
However, it is your job, as a business owner, to know whether you are intentionally or accidentally creating your brand, and, most importantly, to know what you want your brand to do for you. You must be the keeper of the brand strategy, and ensure your team knows how to create it every day.
If your brand isn’t working for you—that is, if you don’t have all the business you can handle, with clients who adore you, or you feel invisible—then your brand is probably suffering from one of the top seven branding myths that, sadly, can kill your business fast. Learn what they are, and what the truth really is, so you can start thriving. See which one might apply to you:
BRANDING MYTH #1: Branding is optional.
Actually, you have a brand, whether you create it intentionally, or accidentally. Doing so intentionally, by knowing who you are, and who you serve best, is the most direct route to thriving.
If you think of branding as “optional,” you are still probably very busy with your website, running your business, and trying to build an effective client attraction and management process. You also most likely don’t have a strategy for how to do all those things. Branding is the glue, because it is built out of your values, personality, strengths and who you serve. Once you do the branding work, all those other things fall into place fairly quickly and easily.
BRANDING MYTH #2: Branding is expensive.
Branding has a reputation as being just something mega companies do. In fact, branding, done well, can be very affordable, and will grow your revenue scary fast. Look out!
If you think branding is unaffordable and out of reach, then you are missing the entire point. Sure, agencies can charge thousands of dollars for creating a brand strategy, and designing a wealth of branding and identity components. But you’re already pushing out brand content (you have a logo and a website, right?). It is just likely to be a hodge-podge and confusing to potential customers.
Instead of hiring a high-ticket agency, why not slow down and get strategic about your brand voice, who you serve, and how you help your customers? Think how expensive not having a clear brand is for you right now.
BRANDING MYTH #3: Branding = logo + website.
Most people think branding is about appearances. They might think it is also the business' colors, fonts and imagery, but what is easy to overlook is how branding is actually about your values, personality, ideal customer's needs, the experience of interacting with you, your story, your voice, and even your process!
Don’t put the cart before the horse. Your website and your logo are reflections of your brand, not the brand itself. Marketing is the delivery vehicle for your brand much of the time, but ultimately your brand is the experience of you, your product and service, from the first conversation, to the final product. Start there.
BRANDING MYTH #4: Branding is inauthentic.
If you try to create a false (or overly perfect) version of yourself or your business as your brand, it will ultimately flop. The direct route to branding success is 100% authenticity.
But what does that mean? It isn't about showing up on social without makeup, in your car, or oversharing your mess. You can do all those things, of course, but that doesn’t equate to authenticity. Depending on your brand, you most likely will just look like a hot mess.
Authenticity is about knowing who you are, what you stand for, your unique strengths and personality, and then be that—all of that. No. Matter. What.
BRANDING MYTH #5: Branding = Marketing.
Your brand is who you are. Marketing is how you communicate that to your audience. So, your brand is your mission, values, and promise of success. Marketing is your website, emails, social media, trade show presence, product packaging, etc.
At the risk of being repetitive, your marketing will inevitably project your brand. It’s important that it be done with full intention, and then monitored and measured, and adjusted if it isn’t working.
BRANDING MYTH #6: Branding is a one-time thing.
The most effective brands are always evolving and growing. That isn't necessarily about size or revenue. Sometimes it is about adapting to a new environment where AI is a thing, for example.
You change. You add products and services. You respond to customer feedback. Your market shifts. You decide to pivot, or scale. All these business shifts mean your brand needs a refresh too.
BRANDING MYTH #7: Branding is easy. Anyone can do it.
Most of you (present company included!) have bought into the seductive lies: Just take a quick course, and suddenly your IG following will explode! Hire a web designer on Fiverr and voila! Your SEO is killing it.
Anyone who has tried these things knows—it isn't easy. Branding yourself takes time, strategy and skill. Branders and marketers all over the world echo the idea: The hardest branding to do is your own.
But, even though it isn’t easy, you can do it yourself. Just be prepared to invest a lot of time, focus and effort to do it. Plan to test it, and modify it. Get feedback. And, if you want a roadmap, look for the mini-training I am launching in a few weeks. It will walk you through the necessary steps for effective branding, full of worksheets and tips for your success.