Building a brand that’s authentic and that you love could be the difference between having a successful business and one that’s not. Why? Because having a brand that’s authentic means being more in tune with who you are and where your passions lie as well as the needs of your audience. When I started my business as a branding strategist and designer 10 years ago, I wasn’t authentic at all. I did what I thought I needed to do. I offered a limitless amount of services, I talked about everything that I did, and I left “me” out of the equation. As I progressed in my career, I came to realize that I was making a huge mistake that was basically limiting my success.
So, I made a shift in the way I communicated with my audience and with myself, understanding my passions and being unapologetic about doing what I love. Here are the five steps you should follow in order to build an authentic brand that you love.
1. Define Your Purpose + Passions
A lot of times, we become entrepreneurs to “make money”, not necessarily out of passion, but out of need. I began my career with an idea that I wanted to be independent and have total control of my time. I created a business out of what I knew how to do, which was graphic design. I had studied it, had experience in it and liked it quite a bit. So, it simply made sense. At first, it was automatic and all about making money. However, as the years progressed, I discovered that I truly had a passion for branding. Helping people transform their businesses, and ultimately their lives, through branding and design fuels me.
I would say that understanding your passion from the start and building a business around this will ultimately create a business you love. You want to ask yourself:
What do I love?
What fuels me?
What would I do for free?
These questions might seem obvious, but they are so important moving forward. In my case, the answers to these questions meant eliminating 80% of the services I was offering. I feel that it’s better to be known as the expert and go-to person who does ONE thing incredibly well and with passion, than known for doing a lot of things, but nothing special. What are you confident that you can do best for others? Do that.
2. Understand Your Audience
One of the biggest lessons that I have learned in business is that unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), nobody really cares about you. People mostly care about themselves and the problems that they have and how you can solve them. You see, in life, everything comes down to problems and solutions. Your audience has a problem. That problem might be the simplest thing in the world, like feeling bored on a Friday night, or the most complex thing, like being overweight. Your job is to discover what that problem is and offer a solution that will benefit them.
Building an authentic brand that you love means getting to know and understand your audience and genuinely care about creating those solutions for them. The better you understand your audience, the better you will get at solving their problems. You have to do everything in your power to find out what their pain points are. How do you do that? By asking questions. Contact every client that you’ve worked with and ask them where they were before they hired you. Research through Facebook Groups, or simply ask Google. All of these things will get you closer to understanding your audience better than they do.
3. Create an Experience of Transformation
Once you are clear on your audience and their needs, you want to make sure that you build an experience of transformation. Building a brand that’s authentic means really making an effort to move people from their problems to their solutions, and you want to make sure you communicate it clearly. For a long time, my marketing and website communicated that I was a graphic designer who created logos, brands, and websites. I would go on to talk about how much experience I had and who I had worked with and that I had an MBA and this and that, me. me. me. me. Eventually, I realized that focusing so much about what I did, took the attention away from what was important: my audience. So I reframed the way I communicated by stating: I help entrepreneurs create unique brands that attract. Can you see the distinction? Now it’s not about me, but what I do for others. There’s clarity about the type of transformation entrepreneurs will go through when they hire me. Where before it was about someone designing a logo for you, now it’s about building a unique brand.
What you want to do is fill the gap between the problems and the solutions of your audience, and make sure that your communication is geared in that direction. It all comes down to how you frame and package what you do; in other words, it’s all about positioning. How are you communicating who you are and what you do?
4. Be Unique
Another thing I used to struggle with when I started my business, was the idea that there were other designers out there that were probably cheaper and better than I was. I would wonder why anybody would hire me, when they could get a better product for less elsewhere. Here’s the thing — yes, people do hire you in part for your skills. But, the truth is that people hire you mostly for you. There are millions of businesses out there that are doing exactly the same thing you are, but the one thing that makes yours different, is you. Your experiences, your education, your skills, your personality, your values, your “you”. In my case, there might be millions of designers out there, but only I have lived all over the world, am married to a famous Latin pop singer, graduated top 10 from one of the top MBA schools in Latin America, have done dozens of online courses, have had my clients, built a successful business and have my personal unique fresh style. Only I can say that I have done those things. Building an authentic brand means bringing YOU to the table. Showing up, with your qualities and imperfections and being genuine and real.
The truth is that in the end, we all want to connect. That means that we don’t want to feel like we’re alone in our journey, that we’re the only ones going through whatever it is that we’re going through. We connect when we hear people that understand us. We connect when we feel seen; not invisible. It all comes down to bringing your story to your brand.
5. Create a Brand That’s Authentic
In the end, if you are creating a business that’s aligned with your passions, offering solutions that are capable of making experiences of transformation for your audience while building your business around what makes you unique, you need to make sure you’re reflecting that in your brand. Branding is fundamental to making that happen, because branding is all about building perceptions from the inside out. You begin by determining your Unique Selling Proposition and positioning and you end with making sure your brand looks the part. You need to make sure your logo, website, and images in general, build you the necessary credibility while looking authentic and unique at the same time. Having an image that brings everything I mentioned to the table is fundamental to really creating something extraordinary that’s capable of standing out.
We’re very visual beings and are quick to judge when something doesn’t look valuable. It might be the most incredible and delicious food in the world, but if the restaurant looks ugly and sketchy on the outside, we won’t go in. It’s the same with our brands. If the image doesn’t reflect the value you offer and if it doesn’t make you stand out, people will take 3 seconds to form a decision and leave. Branding the right way will actually be capable of making you stand out as different — GOOD different — from everyone else. At the same time, it will build you recognition and ultimately create more credibility and trust. All of these are the perfect ingredients to building an authentic brand that you love.
Applying all of these things to my business has been a game changer. I believe that the more I connect with being authentic, genuine, and unique, the more I love my business, the more I wake up happily and excited every Monday morning because I am building a business I’m passionate about, while transforming people’s lives every single day. Now, I ask you, what makes your brand authentic? Make sure to share in the comments below.