Branding is an essential and often overlooked part of setting up a successful, thriving business. Knowing how to run a business is not enough when it comes to scaling your potential – having a strong, recognized brand will get you to the next level by attracting your ideal audience, increasing your perceived value, and earning you recognition within your industry.

To turn a brand into a legacy, it’s important to 1. craft a brand story that clearly communicates the business’s vision and value to the world, and 2. get it in front of your ideal audience with a strategic marketing plan.

A few tips for those looking to create a unique and lasting brand:

 

Don’t try to be like everyone else

I see this too often: a business comes up with a brilliant marketing campaign that skyrockets it to success, and all of a sudden everyone else is following suit. The same goes with, for example, the travel influencer world on Instagram (a niche that I am involved and am all too familiar with). Nowadays, a vast amount of female travel content consists of women wearing beautiful, flowy dresses, backs to the camera, and posed against a dramatic landscape, with a dreamy quote about how life-changing travel is. It is a cycle of similar brands copying one another.

Just because something works for one brand, does not mean it will work for you. You need to look at the context: what the brand stands for, the target audience, the budget, what the story behind the person or company is, and so on. In all likelihood, it will differ from yours, and even if you copy the formula, you won’t be able to achieve the same results.

Instead, focus your energy on crafting your own unique story and tell it your way, regardless of what everyone else is doing. People respond to authenticity – you’ll never go wrong by telling your truth, as there will always be an audience that will resonate with what you have to say. What’s important is taking a stance, even if it contradicts the norm, and standing by it through your branding.

 

Don’t just “wing” it

A lot of my brand story coaching clients describe the branding process as throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping that something sticks. While figuring out all the moving pieces of a brand can be overwhelming, and some of it develops organically as you go along, it should not be guesswork.

To create a strong brand framework, clearly identify why you do what you do (the vision and core values), what the offered products or services are, who the ideal audience is, what market space you will inhabit, and how you’ll differentiate yourself within it. From there, map out a strategic communication plan for what channels you’ll be posting content on and why, what the story is and how it will tie your content together, and what the customer experience looks like according to the brand.

To uphold brand credibility, make sure that all touch points (e.g. website, email marketing, messaging, CRM) are seamless and deliver on the brand promise. Even if you don’t have everything figured out, it should not look that way from the outside.

 

Don’t get overly attached to your ideas

Businesses can get so wrapped up in who they want to be that they risk losing touch with their true identity. You may want to be perceived as a certain kind of brand, but that does not mean that’s what you’re best at; you may naturally fall into a space that you had previously not considered.

For example, when I originally began traveling full-time, I wanted to be a travel blogger. As I was creating content, I soon realized that I was not passionate about giving travel tips and recommendations, and as a result, it was not resonating with my intended audience. I found myself naturally writing about human connection, self-discovery, and life design. But, I was initially so wrapped up in the idea of being an influencer that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me: that people came to be for inspiration and guidance that extended far beyond travel tips, and that the work that I excelled in was more aligned with story coaching.

When creating and developing a brand, remain open to evolution. You may not even know what niche you fall into until you break away from what everyone else is doing and give yourself a chance to express yourself authentically. Even so, it’s important to strike a balance between going with the flow and creating a strategic marketing plan. Develop a brand story framework, build a content strategy, and communicate your vision with heart and clarity. So long as you stay true to yourself and your business’ mission, your brand will develop into what it needs to be.

Originally published on: Forbes

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