“Live as a brand, or die a commodity” is something my business partner, Stefan Aarnio, said. It’s so simple, but yet so powerful. In essence, this means that you must build a brand in order to survive, or you will be viciously destroyed by massive corporations like Amazon.
I’ve taken this to the heart through the development of my four companies, and it has given me the perspective that if a company or person is not willing to do a continual investment in their brand, they will without a doubt die a commodity.
Online branding is important in this day and age because it is the first impression you give to others, and the success of your business is based on how other people perceive you. Branding creates trust and rapport with current and future customers by allowing them to know what to expect from you and/or your business.
Understanding The Value Of Branding
Branding improves recognition. Think of how valuable it is that whenever someone sees a red label around a can, they think of Coca-Cola. Think of how valuable it is that whenever someone sees a checkmark on a shoe or a shirt, they think of Nike. Think of how valuable it is that whenever someone sees an orange swoosh, on a brown package they think of Amazon.
Branding allows for the most powerful form of advertising: word of mouth. When you are brought up in a random conversation among a group of employees or a group of high school kids sitting in the cafeteria, it’s the most powerful form of advertising there is. The only way the word of mouth of a company can spread is through building and solidifying a brand that makes people want to talk about you.
Now, the first step to getting people to talk about your business or personal brand is through giving value—and as much of it as possible. It’s easy to give people value in this day and age by simply starting a blog, posting videos on social media, or setting up a Twitter account and posting about any topic that you are experienced with and are looking to create an audience around.
Business leaders are usually conflicted about which type of branding they should be focusing their energy on: Their personal brand or their business brand? It’s not an either/or situation though. In fact, both brand types work in harmony with one another. If you’re just starting out, my advice is don’t develop only one perfect brand. Work on both the personal and business brands side by side—and eventually let them harmonize.
Now, I get a lot of questions about competition and differentiating yourself from competing brands. If you are willing to invest your time and resources into your brand, the answer is very simple: Competition does not exist. Stop focusing on the competition, and only focus on what makes your brand authentic and how you can give the most value to your fans or target audience.
I would like to leave you with some key tips on how to build your own brand, whether that be for your business or personal brand.
Firstly, you should figure out your target audience. Who are your target clients? What are their interests? How old are they? What area of the world do they live in? What social media platforms are they on?
Then, based on the customer avatar you create, you should start finding other people in the industry who are doing a stellar job online, or are at least doing something correctly that you would like to replicate.
Then craft some ideas of how you can produce the most value to your target audience. This might be starting up a daily blog about cooking. If you are a real estate agent, this may be producing content on how to sell homes and tips for buying properties. If you are a real estate investor, this may be collecting testimonials and filming your house walkthroughs to post on social media. But whatever you do, this is the base of building your brand: It’s all about giving the most value and asking for absolutely nothing in return.
In conclusion, hopefully, you better understand the importance of building a brand. It’s not so much an effort on researching whether you should be building a brand—it’s on pivoting in the direction of creating an elite brand.