Your brand is what people believe about you. Whether they are right or wrong, your brand exists only in other people’s minds.
Your brand is not your logo. It’s not your name. It’s not what you look like.
All of those things effect the thoughts we have of your brand and what we assume about your brand. However, those individual items are not your brand.
You might hear people talk about branding as a set of colors, a logo, or other design elements that are attached to a company or business. That’s because those are visual items that make it easy to identify a brand, but those things aren’t a brand. Those are the things that make up a brand identity.
They also aren’t the only things you can use to identify a brand.
There are also characteristics that make up a brand. New York City has a lot of activities for people who want to hang out late at night—fact. The city also a 24-hour transit system and more cabs than stars you can see in the sky.
So, because it’s a good option for night owls, one popular opinion on New York is that the city is always “awake”—even though there are parts of the city that “go to bed” at a reasonable hour. Still, New York City is known as the city that never sleeps.
And because of that branding, you’d be very surprised if you visited New York City and found most of the popular venues closed by 8pm. Because expectations.
A brand is a set of beliefs that a potential buyer uses to make assumptions about an individual, company, or other entity. Those beliefs are based on the words, feel, and behaviors of said individual, company, or other entity.
Branding creates expectations. Based on these expectations, and based on our own perceptions of other things, people decide what they should and should not trust that brand to do.
Example of how your target audience might make assumptions about your product: things that are expensive are high quality (our own perceptions) so your low-priced product (your brand’s behavior) might be low quality.
So, that’s how branding works in a tiny nutshell. Now…
How do you use your brand to get what you want?
Simple answer: You have to promote who you are and what you do for people to see those things as a part of your brand.
When people expect something from you, they will start to bring you opportunities that match what they expect. If you’ve never mentioned to people that you play tennis competitively, people are unlikely to tell you about a really cool, paid opportunity to teach children how to play tennis. But if people know that you sew your own clothes, they might tell you about a new boutique that’s opening soon and looking for local designers to feature.
One of your brand’s many jobs is to bring opportunities to you. It cannot do that if no one is spreading the word about what you do. You must spread the word.
To use your brand for opportunities, you have to communicate and perform. Back to the example of sewing your own clothes: you have to both sew the clothes (perform) and let people know that you sew them (communicate).
Communicating doesn’t have to be boastful. You might not want to walk around your day job every day announcing that you sewed each of your outfits this week (though you should at least mention it when you get compliments), but you may want to mention it on Instagram and display your handmade wardrobe.
This gives you a great outlet to communicate your ability to perform.
Communication without performance is a rumor. Performance without communication is a secret. If you’re trying to create opportunities for yourself, rumors and secrets won’t help you.
People need to know what you can do in order to bring your name to the table when an opportunity presents itself. People need to be confident that you can handle an opportunity, and risk their reputations for you, before they connect you with someone else. More important than both of those, you need to know that you can perform so that when an opportunity comes straight to you, you can capitalize on it.Communication without performance is a rumor. Performance without communication is a secret. Click To Tweet
Let’s look at how this affects your career
Let’s say you want a promotion.
If you talk to your manager about how good you’ve been at the job you’ve had to 5 years, you’re deepening the belief that you belong in that job. If you change your conversation to talk about how specific projects you’ve done, your ability to lead, and your new certifications exactly match the role you want, you’re creating a new belief that there’s a better job for you than the one you have.
It just so happens that it’s also the job you want.
It might be easier to get that job if you rebrand your career.
People know that you tell them and what they see. Make sure you’re telling and showing them the things they need to know that get you where you want to be.
Let’s look at how this affects your business
Say you want to reach a new audience.
If you talk to your new potential customers about how much success you’ve had selling sneakers to runners, they might not believe that the baseball cleats you want to sell them will give them what they need. However, if you tell them that the key to your amazing running shoes is the patented technology that helps athletes run short sprints 35% faster than other sneakers (useful for running to first base), without any adjustments to how you run, and has shock absorption that reduces joint damage (caused by collisions at home plate) they might be willing to hear the rest of your sales pitch.
Again, you need to perform and you need to communicate.
This is what people’s thoughts are made of.
Therefore, this is what branding is made of.
So, to use your brand to get what you want, you need skills in building your brand. But once you know what you want people to think of when they think of you, you’ll be able to use your brand to take you wherever you want to go.