How to Build A Brand (Yes You Should)

Brands are overemphasized. Brands are also important to literally everyone. We’ll get into that later.

If you don’t know exactly what a brand is, you’re dead in the water. So what is a brand?

Glad you asked. But before we get into how to build a brand or what a brand is, here’s a list of things a brand is not:

  • Just a logo: While the first thing you notice about Apple might be their logo, the iPhone isn’t popular because we couldn’t resist the imagery of fruit.
  • Good because it was expensive: The third Reich spent a lot on their brand.
  • Only for big companies: What do you call a person who says Starbucks is the best coffee shop? A liar.
  • Set it and forget it: We’ve all walked into a dated kitchen. The food in there sucks.
  • Just marketing: Just… no.
  • Meant to capture everyone: If no one hates you, kind of everyone does.

‘You said brands are overemphasized, what did you mean by that?’

Right. You know the guy that looks at his own reflection in every window he walks by? Is he a person you like? When businesses don’t know how to build a brand or become too brand obsessed they run the risk of taking their eye off the ball. What is the ball? Being useful to someone.

What is a Brand?

If we ask ChatGPT, we get back,

“A brand is a unique combination of symbols, words, and design elements that represent the image and identity of a company, product, or service. It encompasses the perceptions and emotions that consumers associate with the company and its offerings. This includes elements such as the company’s logo, name, and tagline, but it also goes beyond visual identifiers to include customer experiences, and the promises a company makes to its customers. In essence, a brand is the perception people have in their minds when they think or hear about a specific company or product.”

So a brand is just a reputation?

A brand is closely related to reputation, but it’s not just reputation. A brand encompasses:

  1. Identity: This includes the visual elements of a brand, such as logos, colors, and web design, which help differentiate a product or company in the market.
  2. Promise: A brand often signifies a promise to the consumer about the quality, experience, or values they can expect from a product or service.
  3. Perception: This is how consumers view and feel about a brand, which is often influenced by their interactions, experiences, and the messages the brand conveys.
  4. Reputation: Over time, as consumers interact with a brand and its products or services, the brand develops a reputation based on those interactions.
  5. Emotion: Brands often evoke emotions in consumers, which can be the result of marketing efforts, past experiences, or word of mouth.
  6. Values: Some brands are built around specific values or causes, which can attract like-minded consumers.

Why you should build a brand

Why are brands important to “literally everyone?”

Think of a brand as an opportunity amplifier (or in the case of say, Monsanto, an opportunity dampener). The better the brand, the more opportunities brought to the entity it represents. More customers, clients, business partners, investors, suppliers, etc. Even an individual’s brand will improve their ability to get referred for a job, get a boyfriend, you get it.

So why is this the case?

Listen, we’re all stumbling through the endless digital corridor of life, right? Every click, every post, every awkward selfie – it’s all stitching together the quilt of your digital legacy. Think of your brand as that semi-tattooed barista at your local cafe. He’s not just serving coffee; he’s selling an experience, a story. You remember him, don’t you?

Life isn’t just about showing up; it’s about how you show up. That digital footprint you’re leaving with every post, comment, and picture? It’s your unsung anthem, your silent shout into the void of the internet. Your brand is more than just a shiny badge. It’s the spine of your digital body, holding you upright in this madhouse of information overload.

Ever wonder why that quirky indie brand stands out in a sea of corporate blah? They’ve got soul, man. They’ve got a story. Like scars on a prizefighter, a brand showcases your battles, victories, and even those messy face plants. It states to the world, ‘Hey, this is what I’m about. Take it or leave it.’

But here’s the kicker: If you don’t grab the reins of your narrative, someone else will. And trust me, that’s a one-way ticket to a bland, forgotten realm where vanilla dreams go to die. Be that barista, leave your mark, craft your legacy. It’s your world, we’re all just scrolling in it.

Great, so how do we build a brand? To start; find your damn why.

Face it, every Tom, Dick, and brand is peddling something these days. But here’s the cold, hard question: Why should anyone give a damn? It’s the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing that makes you more than just another face in the crowd.

Why You Need a ‘Why’

  • Stand Out: In a world of clones, your ‘why’ is your unique fingerprint.
  • Build Trust: People buy into your ‘why’ before they buy what you’re selling.
  • Drive Passion: A compelling ‘why’ fuels you on those inevitable rough days.
  • Forge Connections: Your ‘why’ is the magnet that draws your tribe to you.
  • Longevity: Fads fade. A strong ‘why’ ensures you’re here for the long haul.

Alright, so you’re nodding along, thinking, “Okay, I get it. But how the hell do I figure out my why?”

Crafting Your ‘Why’:

  1. Gut Check: Strip away the fluff. What’s that core belief driving you? Is it rebellion? Innovation? Comfort? Joy? Get raw and real.
  2. Look Backward to Move Forward: Dive into your origin. The humble beginnings, the hiccups, the Eureka moments. What’s the common thread?
  3. Future Vision: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Not in terms of profit, but impact. What mark do you want to leave?
  4. Talk It Out: Engage with your team, customers, or the barista down the street. Sometimes, outsiders see what’s right under our nose.
  5. Write. Rewrite. Refine.: Pen down your ‘why’. Then challenge it. Tear it apart. Build it back. The more you refine, the closer you get to its essence.

In the end, remember, your ‘why’ isn’t just some snazzy line in a marketing pitch. It’s the North Star guiding you through the chaos, ensuring you don’t just exist but truly live in this wild world of branding.

How to Build A Brand: Wear Your Flaws Like Battle Scars

Flaws are a good thing

Imagine a world where every person you meet is flawless. Sounds dreamy? Nah, it sounds dull. Our blemishes, our quirks, they’re the threads that weave our individual tales. Brands? They’re no different.

Here’s the Thing About Embracing Imperfection:

  • Humans Connect with Humans: Ever noticed how a chipped mug feels warmer? Flaws make brands more… human.
  • Trust is Built in the Trenches: When the going gets tough, and you own up to it, that’s where trust is forged.
  • Stand Out or Fade Out: Your imperfections? They’re your brand’s fingerprints in a world of hand sanitizers.
  • Stories Stick, Not Specs: People might forget what you did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
  • Stalwarts Aren’t Born; They’re Made: When you wear your flaws proudly, you invite people to grow with you.

Alright, so how does a brand turn these ‘blemishes’ into badges of authenticity?

Turning The Tables On Flaws:

  1. Narrate, Don’t Dictate: Share the stories behind those imperfections. Let people in.
  2. Thank, Don’t Shirk: Feedback? It’s gold. Mine it. Even if it stings.
  3. Be Real, Even When It Hurts: Messed up? Put your hands up. People respect a brand that can take it on the chin.
  4. Redefining ‘Flaw’: Sometimes, the world calls it a flaw because they’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe it’s time they did.

In the intricate dance of branding, it’s often the missteps that create the most memorable moves. So, embrace the off-beat rhythm, and let your brand’s raw, flawed passion light up the floor.

Stake Your Claim in No-Man’s Land

In the sprawling landscape of brands, there’s a vast stretch of territory that remains untouched. It’s wild, uncharted, and teeming with possibilities. This is the No-Man’s Land, and it’s waiting for a brave soul to stake a claim.

Most brands? They set up shop in the crowded town square, yelling louder, hoping to be heard. But the true pioneers? They venture out, seeking the unknown, and in doing so, they create their own legacy.

The Secret Sauce of Venturing Out:

  • It’s not about being first; it’s about being different.
  • Playing safe is the riskiest move in today’s brand battleground.
  • The real magic often lies just beyond the borders of comfort.

The No-Man’s Land Manifesto:

  • Explore: Begin by stepping out of your brand’s comfort cocoon. Study the outliers, the rebels. What are they doing that you aren’t?
  • Innovate: Don’t just replicate. Innovate. Ask not what your category can do for you but what you can do for your category.
  • Position: Carve out a space that is uniquely yours. Whether it’s through a product, a voice, or an ethos, make sure it’s a space only you can occupy.
  • Engage: Once you’ve staked your claim, draw people in. Make the No-Man’s Land a destination. Offer them something they can’t find anywhere else.
  • Evolve: The landscape shifts. Stay agile. Keep an ear to the ground and be ready to pivot as the winds of change blow.

At the end of the day, while others jostle for space in the crowded marketplaces of the known, your brand could be shaping the contours of the unknown. Stake your claim, plant your flag, and watch as the world makes a beeline to see what’s on the other side.

Stories, Not Sales Pitches: The Power of Brand Narrative

Stories, not sales pitches

Want to prioritize storytelling over sales pitches cultivate deeper connections and loyalty? Here’s how:

  1. Understand Your Audience: Know what resonates with them. It’s about their needs, not just your offerings.
  2. Dig Deep: What’s the core purpose of your brand? Anchor your story around it.
  3. Humanize: People relate to people, not products. Showcase the people behind your brand and the customers who benefit.
  4. Show, Don’t Tell: Rather than listing features, demonstrate how your product or service fits into the consumer’s life.

Pitfalls of Prioritizing Sales Pitches over Stories:

  • Short-Term Gains: You might make a sale, but without a deeper connection, there’s no guarantee they’ll return.
  • Lack of Differentiation: If all you’re doing is pitching, you’re likely saying the same thing as your competitors.
  • Missed Emotional Connections: People make purchases based on emotions. No story, no emotional connection.
  • Low Trust: Hard sales tactics can come off as insincere, decreasing trust in your brand.
  • Less Shareability: People share stories. They rarely share sales pitches.

In summary, while sales pitches can lead to quick wins, stories build lasting relationships. In a world crowded with brands, be the one that connects, not just sells. Maybe it’s less about how to build a brand and more about how to be useful.

Kyle Rutten

Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our free newsletter.