So, you want to build a brand? Then stop listening to the people and start looking inward. Because branding is not about market research and what other people think, branding is about you.
Heresy, you say? Honesty, I say. If your business, and your brand, is to be sustainable, it must be true. Trying to be what other people want you to be is not the truth. You gotta be you, because you cannot be passionate about something that doesn’t come from inside. So the first step of branding is listening to your inner voice.
Being a successful brand means becoming a leader. “The brand belongs to the customer” is a new marketing myth. Turning your business over to the crowd is following, not leading. As Seth Godin says in his book, Tribes: “Heretics are the new leaders…The marketplace rewards, and embraces, the heretics.” In other words, step away from the crowd, embrace your vision, be different.
Don’t get me wrong, the crowd has some good ideas and can yield some inspiration. But there is only one possible result from turning your brand over to the crowd: homogenization. Putting together a business for everyone is assembling a business for no one in particular. A more effective approach is tapping your passion.
Vision & Passion
Sure, it sounds simple, but it’s not easy. Because this self-discovery thing is not private. Your soul is put on display for the entire world to see. So where do you start?
Start with your passion. In Over The Top, Zig Ziglar says that, “Motivation is really the spark that lights the fire of knowledge and produces creative ideas.” When you tap into your passion, you can can begin to create value. So ask yourself these questions:
- What do you really believe?
- What do you value most?
And I would add: What is uniquely you? The answer: your ideas, your passion, your vision. Within those three items lie the unique value you can create through your brand. Let me give you four examples:
Mike Knight Motors
Mike Knight worked in the new car business in Central Texas for more than 20 years, before becoming a partner in a used car dealership that now bares his name. His mission was to break the stereotypes people had about used car dealers. A tough task. Used car salesman have a reputation for being somewhat sleazy while preying upon customers. But Mike was passionate about creating a used car dealership that would be perceived differently. And he had a cool name. So he branded himself as “Slaying the Used Car Dragons.”
Cody Malone is a 22 year old pro bass angler making his way up the rankings of the tough pro fishing circuit. He needed a true brand that would attract sponsors. Because he was a new, young gun with aspirations of winning The Classic someday, he branded himself as “The Future of Fishing.” Then Malone invited both sponsors and fans alike to journey with him into the future.
Apartment complexes are formulaic. Stick to the formula, make money. But Eric Brown is not a conventional guy. He doesn’t like formulas and isn’t comfortable with conventional apartment complexes. So he took his quirky personality and created a “Loftstyle Apartment Community.” Brown took ordinary apartments and opened the spaces, then created an online clubhouse in which tenants could hang out.
Sykora Family Ford
A byproduct of the sub-prime mortgage debacle is a negative effect on new car sales. While local car dealerships were laying off folks and experiencing a severe downturn, Sykora Family Ford in the small community of West, Texas saw a minimal decrease in sales. The dealership is owned by Ed Sykora and run by four of his sons and a son-in-law. They declare “Our Family Makes the Difference.” Personal videos of all family and staff members are on their website. Doing business with Sykora means you will be dealing with a family member at some point. Check out this video of their free, annual pancake breakfast It’s become a defacto family reunion for the community.
Four valuable brands created by a unique, personal passion. So don’t listen to what other people would do with your business. Your brand is about making your dreams come to life. Now discover your brand.
Disclosure: All brands above are, or were, clients of The Marketing Spot.