Managing a brand, whether it is a corporate or personal one isn’t a case of simply saying how great it is. But with some careful thought and planning, that is exactly what you can have.
As Andy Green, author of “Effective Personal Communications” said, “you must first identify your brand and give it a strong sense of mission.” His view was that Brands can be broken down into three elements: “Icons,” “Values,” and “Information.”
Icons are important. For example, somewhere like London or Paris have dozens, from buildings to vehicles to people. So what you need to do is think about the picture you would like people to have in their minds when they think of you or your business. And do make sure it has integrity. It could be the way your business appears to the outside world, or its service style but it can’t be gimmicky.
And the “integrity” part is key. The truth isn’t something you can change, so embrace it.
“Take Skoda” says Crispin Reed, managing director of Brandhouse Brand Consultancy. “It took a truth – the Skoda jokes- and tackled it head on with its ‘you won’t believe it’s a Skoda’ ads.” Truths are the most important thing in branding; you just have to make them strengths.
The next elements are your brand values. Green says you should determine five, defining a value as “something you’ll do even when it hurts”. It’s the integrity thing again. Don’t sell yourself or your business culture as a bastion of discretion when a few glasses of wine render your tongue too loose. Are you honest? Great, be utterly honest. Do you dislike big companies? Don’t work with them. Not only will people know what to expect, but you’ll also find decisions easier to make and importantly you won’t be found out for being a fraud.
After that it’s down to communicating information. In short, what do you do? You’ve heard of the elevator pitch; summing up an idea in the time it takes a lift to reach its destination. Green advocates a “bungalow pitch”; describing yourself in an instant. What will run through all aspects of your brand? Are you the most reliable plumber in Blackburn? Can you transform financial data into business ideas? Do you have the most efficient system to bake French baguettes this side of Paris? Bingo.
This is made easier by specialising. Your brand / Your Business can’t be Tesco and have a finger in every pie. A single person running a small business simply doesn’t have enough fingers- so don’t be a Jack of all trades, be a master of some. Sticking to three or four core areas of expertise or “brand platforms” will gain you more kudos.
Identifying your brand is one thing. You then need to market it and there lies another story! But having a brand is important. It sets you apart for the world to see. And ultimate it can accrue a significant financial value.