A series about building and maintaining strong brands.

Last week I provided a little information as well as homework that was to push you towards really identifying with who you are as a person, as a creative and as a business owner.

How did that homework go?

If you are just joining us for this series, read this post first and do the homework! The process is amazingly beneficial if you are willing to put in the time. I can promise from experience that all the time, energy and effort put into asking yourself the tough questions is more than worthwhile.

Building a strong brand that is genuine to who you are must be built on a foundation that is purely genuine to YOU. I will keep enforcing this idea of staying true to who you are because our tendency, no matter what we know to be true, is to continually look around us to see what others in our industry are doing. We will then mimic their example, building something that is not genuine and true, making it very difficult to manage much less succeed.

Today I challenge you to stop looking at the people within your industry for ideas on how to build your brand. You know who I am talking about. Instantly certain people popped into your mind, people you follow on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or whose blogs you follow and websites you stalk. The only thing that is accomplished when viewing posts by these people is a deflated heart that is discouraged about this business that you are building.

There is a very important element of education that I do not want to overlook here. I am not saying that you should never learn from those who have gone before you and have built super successful brands in your industry. There is an invaluable amount of information that can be gleaned from those who have successfully built strong brands and been in the trenches of starting their own business. So, please do not discount the value of becoming very well educated in your field.

What I am saying however is that you need to build a strong foundation of who you are, spend the invaluable time getting to know you, evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, figuring out what it is that you bring to the table that no one else can. Then you can build a brand that is true and honest and genuine based on those things, not based on someone else you have idolized as having ‘arrived.’

So much of building a strong brand is building a strong client experience and the best way to build a genuine client experience is to figure out what appeals to you. I think it is super beneficial to evaluate what brands you love. Not logo design. Brands. The whole deal. So, while I am encouraging you to stop following those in your industry who make you feel less than, start following those in other industries who draw you in.

For example, my Instagram feed is full of interior designers, crafters, diy’ers, bloggers, with only a sprinkle of paper good designers (and those are amazing women who I have built relationships with, who I love and trust and who make me feel like I can conquer the world.) So although my specific industry is paper goods and products I enjoy and am inspired by people in other industry’s. You lose the need to compete if they are in a different industry. You lose the feeling of inadequacy or that every present feeling that you should be doing more.

With all of that being said, your homework this weekend is to identify brands that you absolutely love. And then figure out why you love them so. And then follow them. Stalk them. Be encouraged and inspired by them. Learn from them.

Homework.
1. Ask yourself: What are my favorite brands? Hint: Think of your favorite shops, products, people, past experiences, etc. What places or things or products make you giddy? (i.e. My day gets brighter when I walk into a Target. Just saying.)

2. Ask yourself: Why are you drawn to those brands? Identify the aspects of those brands that really keep drawing you in. What is it about them that you love? How do they make you feel?

3. Ask yourself: How can I apply this information to my own brand? To my industry?

Example.
When asked this very question, a branding client answered: ‘William Sonoma.’ She was readily able to explain that she loved their brand, for although their products are amazing, it’s the way their products ‘encourage togetherness through entertaining.’ She said ‘my favorite place to be is with my family in the kitchen.’ So naturally she is drawn to this brand that resonates within her something much deeper than great pots and pans. She now we begin to search out ways to esteem family within her brand and way to encourage that feeling of ‘togetherness’ within her clients.

So, what are your favorites, why, and how can you apply that why to your brand?

P.S. I forgot to announce the winner from this post last week!! Eek!! Sorry!! MARY HAIRSTON you are my winner!! Email your address to info@ashleeproffitt.com so I can get a little goody in the mail to you.