Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s Ask the Expert column seeks to answer questions about everything from starting a business to growing one. To follow the column on Twitter — and ask a question — use hashtag #ENTexpert, or leave a comment below. Your query may be the inspiration for a future column.
Q: How’d you know marketing was for you and what advice do you have for first timers crafting a brand?
A: This is a fun one because I honestly didn’t think when I was young that I would end up in marketing. I did however love asking questions and was particularly interested in why people did what they did. I remember my mom once said to me “when you grow up you’re going to study why people behave the way they do.” and I think that is really at the heart of what “marketing” is all about.
My undergrad degree is in journalism and digital media and my masterss Degree is in online media and persuasion. So at the heart of telling good stories in digital ecosystems, I found myself obsessed with digital marketing. I wouldn’t say I went looking for marketing but I am so darn happy that I stumbled into it, and it feels like a perfect match for what I really love to do — have a beautiful impact through building brands and creating amazing stories.
For those first timers crafting a brand, I’d offer up a few tips that have served me well over the years. I’ve worked through two large rebrands, led brand for a number of companies and advise dozens of startups on brand development, so I’ve seen lots of things work and other things fail. Time and time again it comes down to a few core pieces to help steer your brand toward success.
1. Figure out your why. If you haven’t spent time trying to figure out WHY your brand exists, it will be really hard to build a brand. You need to go beyond “what” you build and “how” you do it but get to the heart of the why. This will act as the foundation in which you build everything on. It’s something you can return to, and it will steer you during the most important brand decisions you’ll inevitably be faced with.
2. Take that and flesh out your brand story. The broader view of your brand is your brand story, and it should absolutely be documented and circulated with the entire team. This will walk through who you are, what you offer, how you differentiate in market and why you are special. This should pull at the heartstrings but include all the assets a traditional SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis would. This is a forcing function so you have to think through “how would you talk about your brand?” From your brand story will come some amazing one-liners you can leverage in press and bios and possibly even a byline you want to hang your hat on.
3. Spend time on the brand identify. Many companies think this happens organically, but the more intention you can give this the better off you will be. Sure your brand identify will change over the years, but when you are first starting out, if you align it with your founding team and yourself everything else will feel much more natural. Your identity includes the visual elements of your brand. This is everything from communications to logo to colors and fonts, among other components. You’ll be surprised how putting an afternoon into this early on can help the subsequent iterations fall into place faster. You’ll also be able to hire designers faster, because you have more of that foundational identity to point to.
4. Allow it room to grow. I am bullish on believing in brand coherence but not getting caught up in brand consistency. If you focus too much on “staying on brand” you won’t allow it room to grow. Especially early on your brand will likely start to take on a life of its own — or at least I hope so! If people start sharing and connecting with your brand, they might use it in ways you hadn’t planned. They might suggest changes to the logo or create hashtags for you. Don’t shoot them down because they aren’t “on brand.” That stifles the brand and takes away the very lifeblood that breeds brilliant brands. Allow it room to grow.
5. A brand is created not defined. Don’t be fooled, you do not “define” your brand. You build it, you ship it, you help it grow and participate in how it is received. But you do not “define” it. The best brands in the world take on their own life. Brands may include aspects like your logo, colors, voice and story, but they also end up including a markets reaction, your customers, a greater philosophy, among other things. Great brands end up representing a perspective larger than one company. It just happens to be the company that found and shared the perspective.
Hopefully this is a useful list of things to keep in mind when you are creating your first brand. I am so insanely passionate about the practice of building and sharing beautiful brands. I wish you the best of luck on your adventure!
Want good reads?…. then feel free to visit below link for more exciting reads!
The U.S. Embassy is partnering with the University of Belize to facilitate a 6 week FREE online course offered through Case Western University titled, “Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies.” The course starts on April Th so sign up today!
While the course work will be offered online and completed at your convenience, we will host scheduled review meetings with an Embassy facilitator to help participants better understand and discuss course materials. At the end of the course, the participants who successfully complete the course materials, and attend the review meetings will be given a certificate of completion to add to their professional resumes.
If you decide to sign up for the course and want to attend the review sessions. Please email us at BelmopanPA@state.gov so that we can send you the meeting schedule and location in Belmopan.
CARICOM REGIONAL ORGANISATION FOR STANDARDS AND QUALITY (CROSQ)
Applications are invited from suitably qualified persons to fill the following position:
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO)
Assigned duty station will be Barbados
Reporting to the CROSQ Council, the Chief Executive Officer shall have responsibility for: spearheading the development and implementation of the CARICOM Regional Quality Infrastructure (standardisation, metrology and conformity assessment), including securing the support of donor agencies and key stakeholders; providing advice on the formulation of policies of CROSQ and the effective management and leadership of the CROSQ Secretariat
Full details of this position can be viewed on the CROSQ website http://www.crosq.org, can be obtained from the CROSQ Office in Barbados or kindly click on the link here. Detailed Vacancy Notice for CEO CROSQ
Applicants should submit a letter of application, accompanied by detailed Curriculum Vitae, including two (2) references by 12th May 2014. The application should be addressed to and submitted in hard copy by direct mail to:
The Chairperson CROSQ COUNCIL REF: CEOAPP2014
2nd Floor Baobab Tower
St. Michael BB22026
Also e-mail applications to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of Belize and BELTRAIDE signed a memorandum of Understanding yesterday, which will see future entrepreneurs passing through the institution get an opportunity to bring their business ideas to life.
The MOU will allow BELTRAIDE’s Small Business Development Center activate at a higher capacity so that persons interested can receive training on different enterprise management techniques.
7News attended that signing and spoke with representatives of both bodies:
Harrison Pilgrim, Chair, Board of Trustees, UB
“We need to look further than the university because the University of Belize was formed from a partnership you could call it of 5 different institutions and the objective of government at that time and continues to be the goal of the administration is to ensure that this partnership yields benefits for the people of Belize and so it is not a partnership with BELTRAIDE for the benefit of the university but we need to see a partnership with BELTRAIDE together. We will be developing young minds and will be training young entrepreneurs and that will auger well for the development of Belize.”
Mike Singh – CEO, Ministry of Trade
“We already have an office here at the campus. We are now going to be having discussions in respect to putting a permanent building on the campus. We staff it with our own people.”
“We are looking for openings in the opportunities that are available for the service industries, the areas that have provided thousands of jobs recently and it seems to have an unending capacity for development and growth.”
“If I get one young entrepreneur to develop a small business and he hires 10 people, 5 might be other graduates, so the good thing about it it’s really an exponential increase in being able to not only give them an opportunity but to expand the employment opportunities throughout. You have the same companies that are trying to hire, they may not be expanding as fast as we would like them to. We have foreign investors coming in that are hiring but again, not at the rate that we would like to see it happen, so we like to see our own home grown ideas, innovation being turned into small business and those people then contributing to add to the job stock.”