Ready for a reality check? Your business is not revolutionary. Your social media agency, hair salon, wedding planning business – someone has done it before. With entrepreneurship on the rise, industries are becoming increasingly saturated. This is why it is crucial for you to grow a brand, not just a business.
What is a brand?
Let’s clear up what “branding” is. It’s not just your logo or just your colors and fonts. Branding is who you are, how you're perceived and the experience you create for your target audience. Consider Chick Fil A as an example. What do they do? They are a fast food chain, not revolutionary. But their brand sets them apart as a healthier fast food option, great customer service, closed on Sundays, helping you is their pleasure, and a “Have a blessed day!” after every experience. What makes them a brand isn’t what they do, it’s how they do it.
In addition to the experience you create, you will have your visual aesthetic. These visuals will help anybody recognize your brand at just a quick glance. Again, Chick Fil A has standout, unique branding using their cows. Anytime you see a cow on a billboard, you know it’s Chick Fil A right?
What’s your why?
The first step to creating a unique, original brand that will be memorable and standout is understanding your “why”. Why are you doing what you do? Where does the passion stem from? What issue or pain point are you solving with your company or services? For my coaching business, my why was to support female entrepreneurs who were unhappy at their corporate 9-5 to start and scale their own business. There are a ton of business coaches out there, but my why was because of my own personal journey. I built a company that gave me the freedom to never have to work for somebody ever again, I control my time, my money and my life – and I wanted to give that to help other female entrepreneurs experience the same freedoms.
When thinking about your why, think about the problem that your target audience faces what will you be solving for them? Do you save them time? Do you save them money? Do you make them feel good? What is the common struggle that your audience faces that you are now solving. Also consider your personal journey, did you have a pivotal moment that led you to start youe company? It’s so important to define your purpose because it can never be duplicated. There may be other fast food chains, but Chick Fil A’s mission can’t be copied by someone else and that’s what sets them apart.
Know Your Audience
Now that you know your purpose, what pain point you solve and why you’re doing what you do – get clarity on who you do it for. For my coaching business, it was female entrepreneurs who were unhappy and who felt tired of being unvervalued with their current 9-5 job. It was very specifically those women because I can relate to their experience. Who are you serving with your purpose? Sometimes there’s more than one answer here and that’s okay. It’s crucial to get very clear with who your avatar is. This will play into how you market, how you frame your business and how you set yourself apart in your industry. For example, one of my mentees owns a digital marketing agency. There’s hundreds of digital marketing agencies across the country. But what sets hers apart is that she specifically works with small, woman-owned businesses. Her avatar is the woman who has been wearing all of the hats in their business and is now ready to outsource their marketing in order to grow their business.
Having a defined avatar gives you clarity on who you're serving – and who you are not serving. Sometimes there will be inquiries that don’t fit your avatar and that’s okay! You’re no Walmart, you don’t have something for everyone. You are a unique business with a unique purpose, so you will do best when you work with a unique, specific target.
Define Your USP’s
USP’s are your unique selling points. In addition to defining your purpose and your avatar, you need to have defined characteristics that set you apart and make you sellable. For Chick Fil A, it’s their quality of chicken and great customer service. For my coaching business, it’s that I’m a self made female entrepreneur who started out on food stamps and built my business from the ground up. For my mentee, it’s that her agency is staffed with female creatives who understand the voice of their female clients.
Get very clear and familiar with what you do and how you do it. Is there a unique method to your work? Did you have a particular client experience that made you change the entire process of your services? What sets you apart from the other businesses who do what you do?
Here are couple characteristics to consider when defining your USP’s:
- Quality of work
- Work style
- Speed of work
- Customer service
You can map out the most efficient business plan in the world, but without strong branding – you won’t make it far. Always keep in mind that there is someone down the road doing what you do. What sets you apart?