It’s a fact that your brand is what other people say about you, not what you say about yourself.
Sure, there are different micro-aspects to what comprises your capital-B BRAND. Pretty much every touch point that people have with your company or you is part of that.
But at the highest level, your brand is about deciding what you stand for, and how authentically your actions reflect that.
To have a brand, you have to have defined values that guide your decisions. You have to choose a path and walk in it.
Establishing a brand means having a unique point of view, and not being scared to be guided by it.
Things That Matter
All the things that makes a company strong and great flow from what that company values.
Company culture, reputation, perception, customer satisfaction — all these things matter a great deal.
But these things are built on the foundation of company values.
A company that values employee dedication and relentless work will produce a culture of long hours and eventually burnout.
A company that values profits over people will eventually produce a culture where people step on each other to advance their careers.
A company that values social issues will produce a culture of activism and community involvement.
There isn’t One True Path to success. There are many paths, because there are many types of people in the world.
Where people and companies get it wrong is trying too hard to please everyone.
When you try to satisfy everyone, you appeal to no one.
The most important part of establishing a Brand: don’t be afraid to set yourself apart.
Companies that have generic goals and values don’t inspire anyone — not their employees, not their customers, not even the leadership.
Never be afraid to firmly establish what you’re about and be consistent with your execution against those values.
Do People Know What You Stand For?
These are just some examples that spring to mind. These are web and marketing companies, my apologies if you don’t know them yet.
Happy Joe is a company that helps train veterans for a job in the web technology industry when they return home. On their old Mission page (it’s changed since this article was first published) it quoted General George S. Patton: “Better to fight for something than live for nothing.”.
That statement isn’t just some fancy quote, it’s a reflection of what the folks at Happy Joe believe in — empowering veterans to have a life with meaning and purpose when they return.
SFN Design is a web development shop specializing in eCommerce and membership sites. In this case, what isn’t nearly as interesting as why.
Developer Curtis McHale states that he wants to tackles projects that have a huge reach, and reach far and wide.
This is also a brand statement that reflects what he believes in.
VaynerMedia is a social media marketing agency founded by Gary Vaynerchuk. The two things Vaynerchuk continually preaches are: market for the year you’re living in, and give as much value as possible before asking for a return favor.
One of my favorite Gary Vaynerchuk axioms is to give 51% of every relationship to the other person, so they willingly give you the remaining 49%. This way of thinking permeates the VaynerMedia brand, and allows them to create thoughtful campaigns like the one they created for Dove (shown above).
Find Your People
The big takeaway is that not everyone is going to business like you do. Not everyone will believe in the same principles you do.
You may have competitors that are going through the paces, not really attracting or repelling anyone.
Your company may have a brand that inspires only apathy. More than anything else, you want people to have an opinion on your brand — or else you don’t have a brand at all.
It’s absolutely healthy to let people be drawn to or repelled by your brand. That strong reaction is what you want.
People identify with other people who have the same mindset or experiences that they do. If they see a part of themselves in what your company stands for and does, they are more likely to have affinity for your company brand.
My challenge to you is to find what your company stands for. Document your company values. Then the hard part, make your company decisions according to those values.