In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.
For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?
Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:
1. What’s Your Story?
Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.
Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.
For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling
2. Set Your Brand into Motion
As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.
You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.
Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).
Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.
3. Be Your Brand
Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.
Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos
Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.