Take a look at the diagram below and tell me what shapes you see.
If I say to you this: I am a square. I do square related things, and then show you triangles, can you see how this might be confusing?
What shape are you? What shape is your brand?
I am not talking about services here; this is not about what you do. We are much further down the rabbit hole.
Branding is about figuring out the pillars on which your brand stands. Or what you stand for if you are a personal brand.
Your brand values and beliefs.
Take my brand as an example.
I was born as a square. All life’s holes are circles. Go figure.
My teachers called me a ‘maverick’.
I didn’t go to university. Instead, I went to work at 16. Studied for my two degrees part-time while raising a family in a full-time job. Talk about doing things the hard way.
In the early years of my childhood, my parents had nothing. My Dad worked long hours on the market stalls of Liverpool to put food on the table.
I struggled. We struggle. I learned. We learn. We adapt.
I used that adaptive mentality to grow an eComm business with nothing. No backing, no silver spoon. From zero to £4million per year. Bootstrapped.
By the seat of my pants, which were on loan from the bank.
When we liquidated it in 2013, I almost lost everything. I had gone from a millionaire (on paper) to nearly bankrupt.
We struggle, succeed, fail, learn. And then repeat. Sound familiar?
When I was told our local high school was closing down I rallied support from the local community. Every child deserves a great education regardless of background. Despite fierce opposition from the local council and even my own MP, I helped to establish an award-winning high school in its place.
That to me doesn’t confirm that I am a maverick, just that I like to achieve stuff against the odds. Black belt in Ju-Jitsu, reasonably competent guitarist. You get the picture…
These “stories” make me who I am. They feed into the brand of Colin Scotland.
My brand is about innovation, creativity, and doing things differently against the odds. It is unashamedly me, good, bad, and ugly.
I am a square. My brand says it is a square. Well, it’s a signature technically but you see where I am going with this right? Say one thing and do that same thing in your marketing.
What I am all about as a person gives a reason for being to my brand. There is a story that gives potential clients a reason to believe.
That’s all well and good, but what about purely corporate brands? I hear you say.
Is there any such thing? Think about it. Behind even the biggest brands on the planet, there are people.
- Apple – Steve Jobs
- Microsoft – Bill Gates
- Virgin – Richard Branson
- Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg
Regardless of business size, there has to be a story. An origin. A reason for being. There is no avoiding it. It is how we are wired as human beings.
Without clarity on your story, you will be forever banging your head against a brick wall trying to compete with Goliath competitors.
I don’t like these kinds of odds, how about you?
The beauty of crafting your brand story is that we don’t just alter the odds. We change the entire game.
Yes. Read it again. Let it sink in.
We give people a reason to believe. A narrative that they can connect to on an emotional level. Corporate or personal brand doesn’t matter. The emotional connection is essential.
When we create a real emotional connection with our clients, we render the competition irrelevant.
Think about this…
When you commit to a relationship with your life partner, you don’t then go off conducting affairs all over the place. You remain loyal to your spouse.
We are not going to propose to our customers. That would be silly. But to a lesser extent, we are trying to create the same, unshakable bonds of relationship.
By introducing a human element into the mix, this can be achieved regardless of how big or small your business is. Aristotle calls it Pathos. Simon Sinek calls it The Golden Circle.
Once you have figured out your why you need to prove yourself by your actions.
I love to help people (saying). I try to produce helpful, thought-provoking blog content that will move the needle for you in your business (action).
Can you identify the common thread here?
Clarity of origin. Clarity of values. Clarity of purpose. Congruency of action.
Once you have this clarity, everything else becomes easy. You have a yardstick against which to measure and test everything. Ask yourself, does this fit with my brand?
Craft your story of connectivity and credibility. Your origin story. These feed into what your brand is all about. It’s values and beliefs. The brand pillars on which your brand stands. Then you need to prove this in everything you do.
Crafting your story is step 1 on my leads and sales checklist. You can download the entire list here.
Are your brand values portrayed everywhere? Do you have the same colour pallet on all your literature, your website and social channels? Is it consistent?
Do your staff know what your brand stands for?
Does your logo accurately represent your brand values?