How to Build a Brand that Lasts

Here’s a familiar story for new entrepreneurs: you’re at a party when someone asks you what you do. Without any hesitation, you spout off precisely what your company DOES, as in, what it makes and sells. You describe your product in extreme details. You’ve poured your life into this company after all…

But when asked, “Who is it for…?” You’re at a loss.

You stumble through a variety of different types of customers and demographics, wishing you had a quick, clear, and concise answer. Or worse, you simply say, “It’s for everyone.”

It’s happened to the best of us.

Most people don’t know it, but when they ask, “Who is it for?” they’re really asking, “What is your brand?”

It’s more than a logo.

It’s the one thing all successful companies have in common. A great brand lets everyone know who your products are for, and what sort of lifestyle you’ll help them lead.

Equally important, it lets YOU, the company, know who you are. Having a good brand in place before you launch your company into the world will make sure you don’t confuse your customers and establish a good, solid foundation.

In a previous blog post, I explained how my partners and I were able to build our business without investing a lot of money up front. Part of why we were able to do that was by building our tribe early, and getting customers on board with BeneFIT, even before we had products to sell. And the only way to do that is to have a killer brand in place.

Branding brings together many elements of business and deserves a lot of thought and planning, but some simple pointers will help you and your team get off on the right foot.

Start With Your “Why”

To start building your brand, ask yourself this: If money wasn’t an object, WHY are you making what you make, or doing what you do?

For us, we love living healthy. We wanted to create a product that would help healthcare professionals live a more active, healthier life. We base all of our decisions on that simple guiding principle.

If you don’t know what your WHY is, you’ll have a hard time communicating with your customers, and employees, what you’re all about.

And branding is all about communication.

Once you’ve established your “why”, you can move on to your “who”…

Find Your Niche

Trying to talk to everyone at the same time means you’re talking to no one. We didn’t want to make athletic gear for everyone. We also didn’t want to just make scrubs for any old doctor or nurse. We had a very specific target in mind—active, fun, health conscious healthcare pros.

By choosing a particular group of people within a specific market, we’ve made it easier to reach an audience and to be heard by them. Our ads and copy resonate with them because we know the things they like, the way they speak and think, and the parts of culture they find relevant.

It might at first sound like you’re alienating some customers, and you are, but you’ll be attracting more people than you might think. The goal is to make yourself a bigger fish in a smaller pond.

For BeneFIT, we speak to not only healthcare pros that are active and healthy, but the healthcare pros that are aspiring to be active and fit are also listening in. And our brand is in a great position to help them achieve their goals.

Next, use your WHY and your WHO to determine a personality.

Be Somebody

Trying to cook up a personality?

Usually, the best place to start is by looking at yourself!

Today’s customers are better at sniffing out BS than ever. If you pretend to be something you’re not, they’ll lose trust immediately. What’s the best way to not sound like you’re just looking to take someone’s hard earned money? Use your normal voice!

You are, after all, the very first advocate for your brand. At BeneFIT, our team is fun, motivated, wants to help people live better lives, and has a great sense of humor to top it all off. When we’re communicating with our customers, that’s exactly how we sound. Using these traits in our brand and messaging helps us attract customers that are like minded.

Whether we know it or not, we pick our favorite brands just like we pick our friends. We jive with people we get along with, who share our values, and who GET us! Make your brand the best friend it can be!

Now comes time for the logo.

Get Your Style On

The logo is where most people think branding begins and ends, but as you see, it’s actually right in the middle. The job of a logo is to visually express your brand personality. It helps make that solid first impression and is critical to capturing attention. A logo can simply be the name of the company, like Coca Cola, or an icon, like Pepsi, but either way, it should be clean, consistent, and show that your company is unique.

If your brand is fun, make the logo fun. If it’s smart, make the logo smart. If it combines the two… you get the idea!

Our name is a bit of wordplay, and we really wanted to drive the point home by highlighting the FIT in “benefit”. We chose a vibrant green, a happy, healthy color, and a swooping line under our mark to signify movement. Our typeface is even bold and clean, just like the style of our apparel. All the parts of our visual brand are consistent and tell the same story. And you’ll notice those same fonts and colors across our website and social graphics.

Your Brand In The Wild

With all of your personality and visual elements in place, you’re ready to start spreading the word. For any new company, digital marketing should be your main messaging focus—especially social.

But social media is much more than a place to talk about your products and promote sales. It’s the best platform to put all of your branding elements into play and show how your products and brand tell a complete and compelling story. In other words, make your personality come to life.

We were able to take scrubs, a product with very little personality, and create an image that was energetic, exciting, and funny. We found an audience that was as equally excited about our scrubs as we were, and our tribe began to grow.

And if branding is making a promise, Customer Experience (CX) is fulfilling that promise. Whether it’s customer support, ordering online, returns…your customers should always be excited to interact with your brand. Customer experience isn’t just something your company does, it’s what your brand IS. CX is where you get to make your brand memorable.

People love to share news—good or bad. Always strive to be the company that does the best by their customers, because we all know, word of mouth is the best form of marketing.

A Good Brand Creates Room To Grow

Finally, a good brand always has room to grow. Right now, BeneFIT makes medical apparel. But as long as we continue to follow our guiding principle of helping healthcare professionals live healthier lives, we have entry points for a variety of new products, from workout gear to ready-to-eat meals.

If you make your company about your product and its features, you’ll be stuck in a box forever. If you make your company about a brand, a lifestyle, and a way to make a customer’s life better, your possibilities are near endless.

Did this article help you with your own brand? Let me know what you liked in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Author

JB Reynolds
Air Force veteran-turned-entrepreneur James "J.B." Reynolds is the CEO and Co-Founder of BeneFIT Medical Apparel, a company which develops and distributes athletically engineered medical scrubs which are inspired by active wear.

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