Taking the deep dive into starting your own business also includes the challenge of: how to quickly brand yourself. For many people the journey begins with an assumption that they have to go out and get business cards, logos made, and all sorts of things that are going to help them create that image. What you will learn is that none of that takes priority over the most important thing which is often missed and yet should be front and center.
Is ‘Looking The Part' What is Most Important?
“As I understood it, you are supposed to go and decide what you want your image to be. So I focused on things primarily with the understanding that, “looking the part is where I need to start and what is most important.”
The Story of Branding Begins with Your Personal Contribution
Let's take a step back and think about what makes Kentucky Fried Chicken valuable. Many of us understand the story goes that the original founder was not even a Colonel, but that he simply dressed as one and decided to go on the corner and started waving at people to get them to come in. Now is that valuable contribution? No. The most valuable contribution was the recipe! The taste of the product is/was so valuable that it is the unique value proposition or USP for KFC.
Now, start thinking along these lines. There is something extremely valuable in you or your business that will define your own unique value proposition. If you bake better than anyone else, and that translates into higher quality, better service, premium product, etc. Then you have a unique selling value proposition.
Branding Yourself Starts and Ends with Your Unique Value Proposition
If you are just trying to compete on price, or are just another commodity, meaning you are just another choice for someone to choose from, then forget about branding because you will run out of time and/or money well before you get there! Take your USP and make that the center of your brand, and you will start to see beginning today what kind of a difference it can make. It becomes game changing because people come to you for the value—not the name, and in turn you will receive as a by-product the branding you were seeking.
Nate Leung says, “…when it comes to branding yourself, people will only do business with who they know, like and trust. They don't really care about what you are promoting or offering…”
I would agree that yes, people do business with people not businesses in the end, and so people will engage with someone they like or trust over someone they do not. However, when you begin with the value you provide through your USP first, you stand out and ahead of your competitors even if you were not the first business they looked into. In the book, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing,” Al Ries says position yourself for first mover advantage. And this is true as the data shows that 63% of people will (usually) engage with (and/or return to) the first entity they encountered in their path to purchase. However, that is ONLY because there aren't enough distinctive characteristics on between the first encounter and those that followed.
When the journey is to start your own business and one of the obstacles is branding, focus from the beginning on the creation of a blatantly awesome unique selling proposition (and the branding you seek will follow). Having a powerful USP provides the distinction necessary to set yourself apart, drive the traffic you desire, and brings the branding you are after in the process.