Thursday, August 19, 2010

Branding is Not Just For Start-Ups

By Mary Schnack

Your brand is your most valuable asset. How long has it been since you’ve re-vigorated your branding?

How do YOU as the business owner fit into that branding?

The goal of branding is to define a brand that creates an emotional connection between you and your customers. It is not just the traditional “graphic” elements that confirm your brand identity.

As business owners, we represent a big part of that branding. It’s everything—the organizations we join, where we advertise, how we reward employees and for what, where you meet with clients… firm your handshake, how thorough your follow-up, how aggressive your sales pitch -- all of these say something about you and about your business. Every action either builds on or detracts from your brand.

The owner is the lead ambassador for the brand. You are identified with your company’s brand, and your company is identified with you.

You may start with your visual and your words, but a brand is built on fundamental sustained behavior. Never lose sight of what makes your business special, promote your strengths and build a brand that targets your core customer base. It becomes part of a business’s anatomy based on how you, the business owner, engages with your audiences—whether they are customers, local community, suppliers, industry colleagues or the media.

“When we started organizing our BRANDit workshop, the first reaction from women business owners was that it must be for start-up businesses,” said Runa Magnusdottir, a certified business coach and the CEO and Founder of “We want women with established businesses to look at transforming themselves from “an ordinary business woman” into a “powerful brand”. Our workshops will help them think unique, think independent, and step outside of their daily business mindset and get creative.”

Magnusdottir and Bjarney Ludviksdottir started BRANDit, offering women business owners worldwide a four-day workshop in Reykjavik, Iceland, to create and reinvigorate personal and business branding. Ludviksdottir will use her experience as a casting director and co-owner of Eskimo Models, an Icelandic modeling agency, to capture each woman’s personality via a new headshot, video trailer and press kit.

BRANDit offers the opportunity to revisit your branding. You can change the direction of your business, add new products or services to your business model, but you never change your core values behind the brand. That’s who you are as a brand. It’s your businesses personality.

You have to communicate that brand promise and in order to do that, you have to know what that promise is inside and out. Just like you re-visit your strategic plans, you need to re-visit your core values and branding. Your brand promises customer service, community leadership, corporate integrity, environmental responsibility and democratic values. The brand is YOU, YOU as a leader. It’s more important than you may think.

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