Lots of new entrepreneurs struggle to adapt their mindset – understandably – one day you’re good old Sue who comes around and cuts the grass every now and then, and the next you are Sue's Garden Maintenance Limited who is charging a premium rate for a quality service.
Lots of people struggle to differentiate themselves personally from the business, especially in the early days, perhaps, while they are testing the waters of the venture as a side hustle whilst still in employment.
One way to help you do this is to remember that every time you interact with a customer, you are not representing yourself or even your business, you are representing your brand.
A brand is much more than just having a logo or a slogan. It is everything that your business stands for and should be the north star for all that you choose to do. It is vital therefore that you understand and build both your personal and business brand on solid foundations from day one.
When planning how you wish for your brand to be perceived, remember that:
A brand is your identity
Your brand is what can help you differentiate your business from others.
What is it that you do differently from your competitors? What is it that they can’t do, simply because they are not you. Create a brand around your personal strengths and use it to identify your uniqueness.
A brand is more than just an image
A logo is one of the first places that many new start up business owners begin, believing that once they have this, they have a brand. This is the reverse of the case, however. A logo is simply something that customers can visually associate with your business. Think about the values of your brand, and then plan the creation of your logo carefully, ensuring it is also representational of where you hope to position the business during the years to come.
A brand is a vehicle that your business uses to communicate your value
Think how your perception may differ of something bought from John Lewis, B&M, and Poundland, and why you may choose to purchase from each of the three. There is no right or wrong here, none of the three has a “better” brand strategy. Each holds its own value in particular situations, each business is positioned to meet its own customers' needs. Vitally, all 3 stay true to their values.
Your brand is the way you tell your story
It must be authentic, and you should actively promote and build your profile in a way that is relatable and accessible to your customers.
I am commonly asked in 1-2-1 meetings if I have seen a client's website or social media pages, to which I always reply “no”. Part of the aim of this is so that I can see how the business owner conducts themselves when introducing their business, and how closely this matches the messaging found on their website / social media.
If the story being told via one method suggests a premium quality offering for example, but the other speaks of value at a budget price, then the branding strategy needs to be taken back to step one.