At some point during planning your new venture, you have to think about developing your brand. What is a brand? There are many definitions of a brand, but here is my take on it:
A brand is the identity that you present to buyers and potential buyers which influences their belief in who you say you are.
In order to have a strong brand, it is not enough to tout who you are in symbols, logos, messages, and other marketing materials. Your potential buyers must “buy in” to this complex packaging of your image.
Lately, I have learned so much by watching the brands of celebrities. Some celebrity brands have become a strong platform for good. Others are shaky at best. Much of what I see surprises me. There are inconsistencies between the private person and their public persona.
Can you think of a celebrity whose image is profane and vulgar, only to find out later that they were decent and kind? Most of the time, it goes the other way. I won’t call names, but I bet you can quickly think of your fair share of celebrities that publicly appeared to be squeaky clean, only to discover that they were simply scandalous in their private behavior.
In general, people feels duped and even betrayed when their favorite celebrity does not live up to their public image. Some celebrities re-brand and recover. Others aren’t so fortunate because they were overcome by their private demons. Strange contradictions will always cloud their legacy.
So what can we learn from celebrity brands? Above all else, be congruent. Let there be no surprises in what we present to the world and who we are privately. Let our brands be an authentic representation of true character, which of course is comprised of the good, the bad, and the ugly. We, like our businesses, are works in progress. Let out brands be like quilts of distinction and tapestries of triumph. Entrepreneurs are some of the bravest people on the planet. You, like few others, know how to persevere through chronic business pain toward greatness.
Therefore, let us not present something that is faked perfection, but something that is a beautifully flawed just as the people we are called to serve. As we strive for the highest pitch in skill and ability, let us also strive for the highest pitch in integrity.
Where should you start?
- Remember to always align business growth with personal growth. When developing your brand, think less about your image and more about your message. What will your business “say” to the world that only you can deliver?
- Next, let your desire to serve trump your desire to provide the best solutions. This will keep you grounded in purpose rather than jumping through the proverbial hoops. True image and innovative solutions will be a natural extension of purpose.
- Finally, make a decision to always stay close to your values because a good name is better than great riches.