The key to building an authentic brand is to ensure it reflects who you are – as a business founder, owner or leader.
Here are the key steps to building your brand based on your beliefs and values.
You are Your Brand.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a start up, small business owner, or a team leader, if you are starting, building or managing a business – your brand is a reflection of who you are.
Authenticity is vital.
Nothing beats genuine. Back in the day, image was the key to convincing someone to buy a brand. But times have changed, and unless your brand or business comes across as genuine, people won’t trust it. And without trust, people won’t buy from you or work for you.
Start with You.
Can you create authenticity? Can you build it into the brand development process? The simple answer is no – you can’t create authenticity in the way you can create a brand image. In fake it’s actually quite easy to identify what makes your brand authentic – you just need to start with you. By that I mean doing a little soul searching on who you are as an individual (if you are a solopreneur or small business) or as a brand (if you run a team or an organisation).
Don’t overthink it.
By ‘soul searching,’ I don’t mean doing a rational SWOT analysis. We are talking about beliefs and values here, which are much more intangible. So to do this exercise properly, I suggest you close your eyes and allow the words to come to you, rather than trying to force them out. This is the key to accessing information stored in your amygdala, which makes up part of your subconscious, an area of your brain that is largely responsible for housing your beliefs and values. I use a proprietary business meditation process to help my customers uncover these trigger words – but closing your eyes, relaxing, and allowing the words to come to you is a good first step.
Define your Purpose.
While you’re at it – if you haven’t done so already – have a go at defining the Purpose of your brand. By that, I mean the reason why it exists – the higher Purpose beyond making a profit, employing people, and so on. This is the reason you (and anyone else working on the brand) gets up and goes to work on a rainy Monday morning. In the case of the brand Crayola, this is “to unleash the originality in every child,” while Patagonia‘s Purpose is summed up in their statement “We’re in business to save our home planet.”
Nothing makes for a more authentic brand that one that is driven by a meaningful and genuine Purpose.
Measured by actions.
Of course it’s no good developing an amazing set of values and a Purpose statement that would make your mother weep, unless you are going to actually live and work by those values, and conduct your business in a way that actively seeks to move you towards your Purpose.
That’s just Purpose washing.
But if you are prepared to:
– Build your brand on who you are (the best version of you),
– Deliver products and services, customer experiences, and marketing initiatives that align with those values,
– Work every day towards achieving your higher Purpose,
You will reap the many benefits that an Authentic Brand can deliver.
So grab a mirror, and start building.
Justin Cooper is the founder of Brand Purpose .Co, which helps employees, business owners and business leaders to define their Purpose and leverage it through their work, business or brand in a way that inspires, unites and connects the people they work with.