What Is Your Brand Identity?

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Something that’s very challenging for new businesses who are up and coming is establishing brand identity. What is brand identify? How can you cultivate what you want your brand to be? How much say do your customers have in this interaction? Why does brand identity even matter at all? Even for businesses which have been around for some time, getting a firm hold on your brand identity is crucial in growing your existing field of customers.

When it comes to talk like brand identity many peoples eyes just glaze over. You may think that you will just bring your product to market and when your business becomes big enough your customers will tell you who you are.

That’s fine, and an enviable plan, but that still doesn’t give your brand your brand identity.

Commerce is a two-way street; you need to hear your customers and refine your product or service so that they will be pleased and the two of you can have a fruitful relationship. But brand identity comes from the business owner.

  • What do you say about what your business is?
  • How is your product or service better than others?
  • What are you offering your customers that other companies can’t?

If you can’t answer these questions, you might want to head back to the drawing board. You need to know why you’re in business and you need to be able to stand behind that definition with conviction. To your business and to your brand, as the business owner, you  are the only one that really matters. Your company lives and dies with your whim, so what do you want to say to the world to carry that life forward?

If you’re a restaurant, for example, your brand identity is going to define who your customers are, what type of food you sell, and at what cost will people pay for your food. At the end of the day many restaurants are selling the same thing. So why is a fancy restaurant able to sell a hamburger for $25 when you can go get something from a fast food chain off the value menu for pennies?

Well plenty of reasons, of course. One of the biggest is the quality of the food being sold. Frozen patties and microwaved American cheese aren’t going to fetch nearly what grass fed black angus beef and lamb combinations topped with gruyere cheese and Chanterelles will at an authentic bistro. For some it’s foie gras, for some it’s French fries.

But that’s the thing is that as the consumer who needs to eat we know what we are paying for. Because the brands of these businesses where we shop and where we dine are so well-defined. We know what golden arches means, we also know what “jacket and oxfords required” means. While we may try and emulate what these great restaurants do for us. we are also comfortable making choices which make the most sense for us.

That is what your business should strive for; a customer that’s well-informed about who your company is and what they do. A customer who knows what you are bringing to the table and still wants what you’re offering. A customer who seeks you out and anxiously devours what you’re bringing to them.

What is your brand all about? Who is your customer? What are you new slant are you offering to the discussion? You need to know these things and you need to be ready with the answers when you’re asked.

Your business and your brand depends on it.

What is Social Media?

In these confusing times, where everyone has their own “facts” and “reality” it’s important to have definition. Like social media. What is it? What does it mean? How is it defined? What are the parameters?

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What will the future hold for social media and your business?

I read a pretty interesting article on Lifewire about the broad definitions of what social media is. It talked about the distinctions between social media and social networking, if blogs are really social media and a number of other, rather detailed topics. But in my mind social media goes back much further. Way, way further.

Social media goes back to the founding of the United States. It goes back further still to the European renaissance, further still to the times of Constantinople and the Ottoman empires, even further to the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and thousands of years further to great Eastern empires.

How do you think all of these time periods were known of?  How do you think that early pre-American history was defined?  By the revolutionary words and actions of Adams and Jefferson and Washington. What do you think Michelangelo and da Vinci were trying to communicate? What about Homer? Or the ancient Egyptians? What do you think hieroglyphics and those insanely erected pyramids were attempting to do?

In fact I’d argue that social media goes back to the very beginning of human engagement with other humans. The earliest hominids, scraping out the earliest artwork on cave walls with sharp rocks; what do you think that they were trying to achieve? Cave artwork; images of animals or spirits or even human hands; dates back some 30-40,000 years. By that rationale social media is as old as recorded time.

That’s what social media is, in my opinion. One person, coming to the desert cave or county well or town square or Instagram and sharing their own experience with others. Putting their imprint out unto the world for others to view and cherish and disagree with and deface and defend. That’s the thing that makes social media so vexing is this inherent conflict, the built-in potential for explosive emotional outbursts.

Good, bad, or indifferent social media is out there and has been out there for some time.  The question for today’s consumer and for today’s businesses is what is your business doing to capitalize on this most recent modern phenomena? We all act like social media is this evolving thing and it is. If you watch the pilot episode of The Big Bang Theory (from 2007) Jim Parson’s character Sheldon Cooper proudly proclaims the number of followers he has on MySpace. Remember MySpace? Today he’d likely be talking about Snapchat or Tumblr. or the behemoth in the room Facebook. Facebook is the “face” of social media for now. What will people be talking about in 1000 years? Or 40,000 years?

If humanity is even around in another 40K Facebook will have long since been replaced. But that’s okay. Because like the Ford Model T rolled off the lot more than 100 years ago, Facebook may still be around in 2117. Or maybe not. It’s tough to say how these things pan out. Who would have thought that when a hamburger stand opened up almost 77 years ago in San Bernardino that it would remain today be one of the most iconic and recognizable and loved and hated brands in existence?

So it is for social media and your business. How are you going to get your message across? What is it that you want your customers to know about your brand? Will your social media imprint be textual? Or video? Or photographic? Or auditory? Or something else? Will you use your social media  budget to do something benevolent like build a school, renovate a park, or build out something from nothing? These means are all social media enterprises as well and they shouldn’t be discounted.

So figure out what you want to say, how you want to say it, and then get to the task of assembling others around your tent and showing off your wares. Who knows? You could wind up building the next centuries long enterprise which will inspire the world.