One of the most important things to understand about a brand (and I think most difficult when you’re new to the idea) is the magic stuff that makes a brand a brand.
Our resident brand expert here in Working with Dog is Nic…. She believes the stuff that makes a brand a brand, starts with you:
human + business = brand
What is a Brand?
A brand is a business infused with the best bits of humanity.
If it’s a personal brand, or a brand built by one or more entrepreneurs, then that humanity comes from the people who craft it. It’s THEIR unique flavor, their beliefs, their weird, their cool, that give the brand it’s magic.
Businesses that aren’t brands, lack humanity.
They are robotic. They lack the magic fairy dust, the x-factor that gives brands such an incredible advantage in the marketplace. This is why Nic advocates that we build brands instead of just businesses.
Now, before we go any further, it’s important to point out, that a brand can afford to embark on adventures, and take more risks, because:
Building a brand is a LONG TERM strategy.
From a business point of view, all about creating a ‘Sustainable Competitive Advantage’, a business that is more popular, profitable and influential for a longer period of time. From a human point of view, building a brand for you means creating something you’re actually proud of and something that matters to the world. The goal is that by aligning what you sell, with what you truly believe in, and the difference you want to make in the world, marketing is more fun – so it’s easier to actually do – thus adding to the ease which with success comes.
Not to mention, humans want to buy from humans, we want to invest in stories and good causes (this is EVEN MORE TRUE with the millennial consumers who are quickly developing considerable buying power), so aligning what you sell with something that matters is good for business.
Building a brand is NOT EASY.
Keep in mind long-term strategy means it’s not necessarily about quick wins or pleasing shareholders – brands play the long game. Fair warning, this can be VERY uncomfortable while you’re waiting to see if all your time, investment, effort and faith are paying off. It’s a nerve wracking process, and it sometimes feels like being upside down and inside out and totally crazy, all at the same time! But don’t let that scare you!! Building a brand is the path of the rebel, of the outlier… it’s hard because it’s daring and its special. You can do it because you’ve got everything it takes, right now to be successful, and you’ve got us to help. But first, let’s get clear on what makes a brand worth building.
Why Do I Need a Brand?
Most entrepreneurs don’t dream of years of hard, relentless work, leading to a sum-total of zero reward. But sadly, this is the way it goes for thousands and thousands of small business owners.
When we see businesses on social media, in magazines, or on TV that seem to miraculously have it all figured out, or appear to have become sensations overnight, it’s hard not to feel resentful, jealous or cynical about their success, chalking it up to ‘investors’ or ‘famous friends’ – or some other ‘magic bullet’ that we simply did not have access to (thus making it easier to justify why they are successful and we’re not).
Interestingly, businesses that appear to have ‘overnight success’ stories, more often than not, are actually brands. Brands that have a lot in common with each other. Of course, almost always if you look deeper you will find YEARS of unseen, unrewarded hard work and toil that went on before their ‘big break’. But also, through her research for the Million Dollar Dog Brand book, Nic uncovered a cycle of advantage that might explain what’s really going on behind these ‘magic brands’ and their ‘overnight success’.
Brand Advantage Cycle:
Attract buzz: word of mouth, free press, excitement & momentum
Higher demand leads to more security and control, higher profits and better cash flow which fuels substantial growth
Growth and perceived success lead to credibility, authority & influence: create social change and industry disruption
So, the long and short of it, is if you fancy the ‘overnight success’ story – you might just need a brand! As Nichole describes in her book, the benefits aren’t all business either:
“When you are entrepreneur and your business has buzz, demand, and influence – the advantages spread far beyond your business and seep into your life. Opportunities pop up that you may never have dreamed of: exotic trips, five-figure checks for speaking gigs, franchising, licensing, the ability to push forward causes you care about – and freedom of choice. Growth does not have to equal overwhelm. When you’re not desperate to pay the bills, you can make decisions for the right reasons. You can craft your life in the way you desire. You can create an empire and become an authority or you can simply create a job you love that affords you the lifestyle you want.”
(this must be the secret to the ‘freedom & fulfilment’ she’s always talking about!)
If you want to take advantage of the ‘Brand Advantage Cycle’ you need to build a brand. Keep in mind this is a long-term strategy, that can lead to the holy grail of business assets: a ‘sustainable competitive advantage’ (meaning, you’re very hard to compete with for a long time) as WELL as making your business very sellable one day.
All that goodness will not come overnight though… so have patience as you begin your brand building journey. Marathon, not sprint 😉
Understand the difference between a brand and business and the power of building a brand that matters!