When you think about your business or brand, one of the things you should be thinking about is your story and what sets you apart from the competition. Most likely, there are some other small businesses that do the same thing or something similar to what you’re doing. Even if you’re the first ever of your kind, there’s something that you’ll need that will drive people towards you rather than the competition – and that thing is your brand identity. By combining a distinctive personality with great products or services is the key difference between being a business or being an influential business. Consider Starbucks, for example. Arguably, Starbucks doesn’t sell the absolute best coffee on the market, but their story more than makes up for that!
We spoke with Gregory Diehl, author of Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company’s Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible, a book aimed at helping any small business owner rethink their brand’s value through their story and how this can help bring in and retain customers. When you’re working on your brand, you spend a lot of time making it stand out and there’s real value in that. You want to be sure that you’re doing the best that you can for your brand! Diehl has spent time working with entrepreneurs in 45 countries prepare their value messages across mediums and offers brand identity consulting for these people as well. Diehl is here to help you get the maximum value from your small business!
Tailor Brands: What is the power of stories in building a brand?
Gregory Diehl: It’s well known that people buy with their emotions. Their logic and reason just justify what they feel. All the compelling facts, features, and evidence won’t matter if your audience is not emotionally connected to what you do for them. Like it or not, we are all living out our own idea of a story or personal narrative in our lives. People want things that fit into their narrative of who they are. They want to buy from brands that have their own compelling narrative. If you don’t participate in the story, you can never go beyond a cold and functional role in the marketplace, which does not give you much of a unique or competitive edge.
TB: Should you enter a business space simply because of your story?
GD: Yes and no. You should do what is congruent with who you are and your fundamental values. But that all has to be authentic. I don’t really ever encourage people to do things because they are popular or there happens to be a market demand. You have to fund where other people’s perception of value coincides with your own ambitions in life. That way, no matter how financially successful you grow, you will at the very least be satisfied with the type of work that fills your life.
TB: How are you supposed to differentiate your brand from your competition?
GD: To do that, you have to start by understanding what is lacking in the existing market. Otherwise, you won’t know what holes to plug with the existence of your business. When you combine that with basing the appeal of your business in something that is very personal to you, it’s unlikely anyone in your industry will ever be able to effectively mimic you.
TB: How can you know what makes your business unique enough?
GD: For almost everyone, I find it’s a combination of four things. First, identify the specific problem(s) your business solves. This is its function and the most obvious thing about your products or services. Second is the specific way it solves that problem. There is always more than one way to accomplish the same thing, and yours might be superior for a specific context or reason. From that, you can derive the specific kind of person most likely to experience maximum value from your product or service. This is your target market.They are the ones qualified to buy from you. Finally, and this is the part people overlook most, you or your company have to be a certain kind of person when you interact with your audience. This is your personality brand, and it offers the most room for uniqueness and variation. Whether it is you personally or a personality you invent for your brand doesn’t matter.
TB: Explain target audience, how to find it, and what makes it change.
GD: This is really just a corollary to the specific type of value your brand offers. If you understand that well, you just need to picture what it is that makes someone qualified to receive that value (and purchase the product). It could be something situational (like needing a solution as quickly as possible). It could be societal (like maintaining a certain appearance of class or status). It could be professional (like getting some important task done in the office). It could have to do with personality (like just being drawn to a certain type of friendliness, sarcasm, or honesty). If you design your brand well, it should be a combination of all of the above and more.
TB: What roles do design and copy have in developing your brand?
GD: Design and copy are some of the primary ways a brand communicates with its audience. All the value in the world doesn’t mean a thing if it can’t be shown quickly and effectively in whatever way your target audience will be most receptive to it. That’s another major omission by entrepreneurs who don’t see themselves as marketers. You can’t just do. You also have to speak. But speaking comes across in everything your brand does, from sales copy to logo colors, to employee uniforms, and most definitely to live sales conversations. All these communications are meant to, in one form or another, address the obstacles and answer the questions a prospect has on the psychological path to making a buying decision with your brand. Even if they don’t state these things aloud, they are always there in the background.
TB: Anything else?
GB: Branding done right is so much more than just finding a catchy combination of colors, images, and taglines. It’s about deeply introspecting into what makes you who you are, why your business is special, and why others are going to care about that specialness. Most entrepreneurs don’t want to go this deep about themselves or their own brand without a little prodding from someone who knows how to get to the core of things. That’s why I wanted to write my book. I wanted to share this kind of deep and probing conversation in a format people everywhere could engage in on their own time to arrive at the understanding of themselves they will need to see maximum entrepreneurial success. Of course, that is all jus the beginning, but without it everything else is impossible.
A branding story and execution can importantly impact your business. Interested in learning more from experts in the field? Check out our previous Tailor Asks interview here.