Branding matters. Consistent branding across all channels was found to increase revenue by 23%, and 58% of millennial consumers say they expect a consistent user experience from the brands they interact with.
And yet, too many people — from small business owners and start-up managers to fledgling freelancers and solopreneurs — underestimate the importance of building their own brand.
Here are some of the most pervasive myths about branding — and why you (and your business) will be much better off without them.
#1. Branding Is for Celebrities and Fortune 500 Companies
One of the most common misconceptions about branding is that it is some sort of privilege or indulgence for a select few. People think they need to have achieved near-celebrity status, massive business success, or a certain degree of financial freedom to engage in branding.
Needless to say, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Just consider this: there are two types of “influencers.”
On the one hand, there are those who have millions of followers but are nevertheless struggling to pay their bills. Why? Because they were so focused on catering to the masses that they never tailored their brand and failed to build a loyal (and paying) audience.
On the other hand, we have influencers and businesses with a smaller following that make ridiculous amounts of money. They are so successful because they took the time to nurture true fans that resonate with their unique message.
Being “Big” Has Nothing to Do with Branding
Branding doesn’t require you to be perfect or famous or to have “made it.” The point of branding is not to make you feel intimidated.
Rather, branding is all about who you are, what your company is about, and how you want to make people feel — and sending that message consistently across all your media channels.
As clichéd as that sounds, everyone is unique. You already have a personal brand that is unlike anyone else’s. You just need to find out what it is. And the best way to do that is by asking questions about yourself and your business.
For starters, look at your competitors. How do you do things differently from them? What makes your company stand out?
Next, consider your customers or clients. In what ways do you bring value to their lives? What makes them buy your products or services?
Finally, consider your personal history. What challenges have you had in your life? How did you overcome them? How are these similar to those of other people?
These are just some of the questions that can help you paint a clear picture of what your brand is, what makes it stand out in a world of noise, and how people can relate to it.
#2. Branding Is Expensive
It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. Something as simple (and cheap) as your company’s name can also help tell potential customers who you are and what your business is all about.
The recipe for successful branding has three key ingredients: authenticity, originality, and consistency. You don’t need a big marketing budget for that. You just need to be yourself. So, put yourself out there and start sharing your opinions on subjects you know about or tell stories about your life.
Don’t forget to also get logos and designs made for you to ensure you are sending a consistent visual message across the board. Colors and images have a strong psychological impact on how potential clients perceive your brand, and there are plenty of affordable graphic designers.
Plus, you can always get a better logo or color scheme once you become more successful and can put aside a larger budget. Branding is a process that will change as your business evolves over time.
#3. Branding and Advertising Are the Same Thing
Advertising can certainly be a part of your broader branding strategy, but they are not interchangeable. Your brand is your core identity and mission as a business and as a person. It shines through everything from your logo and signature color palette to your product offering and customer service.
In contrast, advertising involves things such as blog posts, podcasts, and social media outreach that help you popularize your brand and make sales.
In the words of Eloisa Marchesoni, co-founder and COO of the Milan-based Blackchain International and a branding and marketing expert, “Branding is all about creating an identity for your brand. Your brand describes who you are and what you stand for. It’s the foundation for everything else you do. Advertising is how you communicate your brand to others. Your advertising will only be as strong as your brand allows it to be.”
#4. Building a Personal Brand Is a Waste of Time
Wrong. Every minute you invest in branding is time well spent. And that’s true even if your brand changes later on or your current business ends up not being as successful as you hoped it would.
Building a brand teaches you valuable lessons about your business, your customers, and, ultimately, yourself.
What’s more, you can take your personal brand anywhere. Even if your company goes down, you can still leverage your following and reinvent yourself. Attention is the new currency, and people will remember a well-developed brand, especially if it is a personal one.
And when we say you can take a brand anywhere, we mean anywhere. In 2018, YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul participated in an amateur boxing match. It sold more pay-per-view tickets than most professional boxing events. They leveraged their online popularity and personal brands and accomplished the impossible.
That only goes to show that if done right, a personal brand can be a business card, a good first impression, and a marketing strategy all in one.
The Bottom Line
To sell your products or services, you need to get in the heads of your potential customers. You need to sell them your brand before they even start considering buying whatever it is that you are selling.
Let’s end this with one final testament to the power of branding: Volkswagen. Back in the day, Volkswagen was just another automobile manufacturer. After launching the unique and highly recognizable Beetle, however, VW became a huge global brand and a household name that eventually bought companies like Bugatti.
So, get creative, be smart, and make sure to dedicate enough time and resources to building a powerful personal brand. The results will be well worth your while.