Whether it’s your product, service or your own name, you’ve got to build a brand and stay on a consistent message. Eventually, your brand will come to represent everything you stand for, and stand behind, and could mean your success or your kiss of death.
So, you get up in the morning and think to yourself about those “giants” in your field and wonder how in the world you are going to make an impact with your brand. The recipe is simple and most of the time, should work well if you use lots of elbow grease, donkeywork, persistence, and quality. Let me give you the example again of my fledgling company in 1991.
At the time of its founding, no one knew the name Victoria Paper nor had any inkling that the company was established. Many knew me personally, through the years of having worked for
industry leaders and delivering the best and most reliable information as well as the most interesting and innovative products. I had built a brand around my name, despite the fact that I worked for businesses that had been anchors in the paper field. Think about this, if you do not have your own establishment, because brand building is not mutually exclusive with business ownership.
That tradition of excellence in service and product sourcing followed me in my new venture, and allowed me to knock on prestigious doors to ask for the order. Though Aimee Kligman was the brand at the very time, I was trying to establish the Victoria Paper name in
the hope that the loyalty I had built with my customer base would be a fairly
Stick your Nose Out a Little Further
In the process of building your brand, you will have to go beyond the safe boundaries set by your particular industry paradigms. You will also have to solicit business from those who may have their loyalties elsewhere. This is the hard part, but if you can persuade one in five, you are doing well. Remember that an essential part of building the brand is having your name, or your company’s name on people’s lips when the subject of your merchandise and/or service is on the table. As an example, I was particularly good at finding “off-the-wall” products, even
though they represented a fraction of my business. However, build and play up an unusual feature of your offering that will differentiate you from the “next guy”.
Believe in the “Six Degrees of Separation” mantra
More often than not, I found this scenario repeating itself ad infinitum in our 16 years in business. Even if you think that “X” will never be a customer, or an aficionado of your brand, “X” eventually turns out to be one of your customer’s uncles, gurus, or gym buddies. Presenting the brand to “X” may take some time and effort that you may deem a waste of time, and it may very well turn out to be that way, however, too often it turns out that in a matter of months, “X” suddenly moves from # 500 on your list to the top 10.
If you think branding yourself is difficult, just think about this: 10 years ago, if anyone said “google” you’d probably giggle, right?