12 traits of a resilient personal brand (part II)
Smart solopreneurs know that branding isn't just about picking out a snazzy logo, a vibrant font and a clever tagline -- it's about making sure your business stands out from the crowd. Below are the last 6 of 12 traits that not only sets a business brand apart but also stands the test of time. (Read about Traits 1 thru 6 here.)
7. Brands should get attention When fear rules the branding process, you should be concerned. Try to cultivate a group in which branding discussions or exercises can be conducted in a psychologically "safe" environment. Keep naysayers and cynics to a minimum and invite experimentation and creative flexibility under the focused direction of a branding expert. Brands should set you apart from the competition, so don't be afraid to let your brand stand out from the crowd. The right clients will find you and be so happy to have found you they won't care that you don't look like the rest of the herd. They'll actually celebrate you for it.
8. Brands should work for you. By work, I don't mean passively fit you; they should work for you in its most active sense. They should do the heavy lifting of your advertising and PR, linking you quickly and powerfully with your key demographic. Your brand should make people want to talk about you. Coava Coffee knows this. Coava resonates on a core emotional level with people who care about rustic, non-Starbucks coffee within and even beyond its Portland roots.
9. Brands should push the envelope, even if it's just a little bit If your brand isn't doing something even modestly risky it will be hard to make people care or make people remember you or set you apart. Consider this -- everything was a crazy idea at one time -- the founder of Nike made his first soles with a waffle iron, which won him a lot of ridiculing and an irritated wife. Don't be afraid to be different. Be afraid to blend in.
10. Brands should be mission-driven. We tend to think of only nonprofits having missions but every business should have one. In a few short sentences you should be able to tell people your business' mission, and it should make them care and, if they're part of your target audience, it should make them connect with you. Once this connection is forged, brand should reinforce your mission time and time again.
11. Branding goes well beyond a logo. People tend to think of brand as a logo or a mark, but truly effective, resilient branding is reflected in every aspect of your company -- the tone of your blog, the fonts you use on your website and e-newsletter, the imagery you use over time and even the way you answer the phone. Portland's Living Room Realty gets this. Their brand celebrates community, independence and creativity, and these values are clearly celebrated in the whimsical, distinctive caricatures done by ____ that repeatedly show up in their advertising. Among real estate companies, normally a staid, predictable lot, Living Room Realty stands out as the realtors for people who like to do things differently and don't take themselves too seriously.
12. Brands should be authentic. The word 'authentic' is a common buzzword these days and is threatening to become a bit of a cliche, but people usually recognize it when they see it. What it means to me is that a company is not trying to be something they're not. They're embracing their limits and unapologetic about their accessibility and candor. This doesn't meant they're small. Southwest Airlines is a large company with authentic branding style -- they're flight attendants banter with their passengers, and they still refuse to charge to check luggage. It doesn't mean you charge less either -- Harley Davidson, Whole Foods and J. Jill are all brands that bespeak authenticity yet cater to a mid- to high-class clienteles.