A fundamental advantage that small business owners have when it comes to brand is that they are so close to their customers. Usually, they started the business because of a personal passion or because they themselves felt a need and strived to fulfill it in the market. DRY Soda, a natural soda company, started out when the founder tried to find healthy, natural yet sophisticated beverages to have at a nice restaurant or a cocktail party. Baby Legs, which provides signature stylish leg warmers for babies and toddlers, was founded by a young mom who needed to expose her baby’s diaper rash to fresh air while still keeping her daughter warm. These leg warmers protected her from the elements, made diaper changing and potty training easier, and protected her soft knees while crawling.
I had the amazing opportunity to facilitate a brand workshop for a tech company who is trying to clarify their messaging, build brand recognition and generally change the game in their industry. Exciting stuff. We clarified and gained consensus on what business they are truly in, who their ideal customers are, and what persona the company can authentically present to the world. But all of this was just ‘business speak’.
Finally, in the early afternoon, I tossed my papers aside and challenged the CEO and others, “Let’s back up a second: What is the mission of this company? What greater impact do you hope your software and solutions have on the world?” The CEO didn’t even need a moment to think before articulating his passion about helping match candidates to employers, which leads to more jobs and thriving businesses, which leads to healthy economies – but on a personal level, finding the right job enables people to “send their kids to college” and make their lives’ dream come true.
The room came alive. Everyone from the CFO to the HR Director to the sales directors gave their own spin on this mission and what gets them out of bed in the morning. I pointed out, “See how the energy in this room just changed? This is the spark that will separate you from the pack, inspire businesses to partner with you, inspire talented employees to work for you, attract customers to do business with you. This is the essence of what you guys are all about.”
If you create an authentic brand in pursuit of a higher purpose, you can connect to people as ‘people’ – not just employees, customers or partners. And this will gain you loyalty, attraction and revenue beyond your wildest dreams. It doesn’t matter if you are a ‘solopreneur’ or a 10,000 person company. And only if this mission is authentically lived out through everything your company says and does will it be embraced and believed – you cannot simply ‘slap a coat of brand paint’ on your business with the transparent singular goal of more profits. If you start with the right intentions and a true passion that is executed clearly and consistently, trust me: the money will follow.