This article has been contributed by Harsh Nankani.
Whether you’re developing a business brand, personal brand or both, it’s important to learn from those who have gone before you. Who better to look to for wisdom than prosperous entrepreneurs – people who have established real companies from the ground up.
Entrepreneurs come from a diverse range of backgrounds and span every product type, industry, culture and generation. However, what most of them have in common is the steep learning curve to success, with plenty of lessons learnt along the way.
Elon Musk, for example, is known as the first “Influencer CEO”. He has used social media’s irreverent culture and strategic branding methods to share his transformational leadership style and personal philosophies, leading Tesla to huge success.
From Paul Rand we can learn valuable lessons around trying to leverage graphic design for brand growth. His work branding large corporations like UPS, IBM and Westinghouse has led to insights such as his classic quote,
“The logo obtains meaning from the thing’s quality that it symbolizes, and not the other way around.”
The journeys of successful entrepreneurs are full of enlightening and challenging lessons. Pay attention and you can use these lessons to take your company to the next level.
The Top 6 Branding Lessons to Learn from Entrepreneurs
Here are six critical branding lessons to learn from entrepreneurs that will enhance the success of your business.
1. Innovation is Key
As the popular quote by Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates goes,
“This age’s entrepreneur is the one who discovers where the world is leading towards and goes there first.”
Image source: Ryan Manning/The Verge
But not everybody will make something out of nothing. At times, you only have to watch what has been produced and then make something new out of the same. For example, rather than creating the world’s next Samsung, you could invest in producing the most brilliant music application on the Samsung Galaxy.
As you can’t predict outcomes of what you produce or what it will be transformed into, you should make sure to do what you love and make things as creative as possible. If millennials began thinking about innovation in the same way, they would look at it as less of a Herculean task and would also be encouraged to engage in entrepreneurial innovation.
Louis Tremblay, CEO and President of AddEnergie, is another millennial entrepreneur. He says that his company is at innovation’s forefront, and his company takes pride in leading the way of making EV charging more convenient and more accessible. Sometimes, making it simpler for people to utilize an already existing product is what we call innovation.
2. Stay Transparent
Trying to fool your customers is the biggest mistake you can make as an entrepreneur. In the connected economy, your ability to detect the truth is only a few clicks away.
Never forget that your success stories are some of the best marketing tools for your business. It’s because they’re real. They are open to each and everyone out there. Not only this, but your customers will also willingly share positive changes they have made in their day-to-day lives by using your product/service that helped them in changing their lifestyle, confidence, focus, quality of life and energy for the better. These stories are exactly what brand storytelling is all about.
The famous quote by Warren Buffet, CEO and Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, says it all.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation but only 5 minutes to destroy it. Keep that in mind to do things differently.”
Image source: quietrev.com
In today’s world of social media, customers want to see the real thing. When it comes to learning this critical branding lessons, you must understand that there is nothing more motivating than the human story. Particularly in the health industry, people don’t want to see photoshopped images – they want to see honesty and vulnerability. This can be something people need to hear about as encouragement for making a similar change in their own lives.
Always remember that it is not about selling a service or product to your target audience, but rather letting the service or product be there for them in the form of a feasible solution.
3. Go Beyond Your Customer’s Expectations
Every business owner wants to delight and surprise his/her customers – after all, that’s what will make your business successful. There is no denying the fact that the success stories of customer service take place when somebody goes beyond expectations. A lot of successful entrepreneurs have opined that the times they have witnessed successful business growth were also the times when they were offering the most.
Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple, said
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
Image source: zdnet.com
A lot of companies go the extra mile to deliver customers a delightful experience, often in the eCommerce industry. A big example is Amazon. It offers Prime benefits like free and fast delivery, online video and music streaming. There’s also cashback, extra savings on purchases and eCommerce live chat support to provide instant service. Some call this their “marketing strategy”.
4. Brands Do Not Make A Company
Paul Rand’s brilliant and genius piece for Steve Jobs, the NeXT logo, exemplified all his rules of design. It proved the fact that simplicity is not the goal, but a by-product of modest expectations and a good idea.
Yet the demise of the company played out this critical brand lesson.
“It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate.
Jobs’ was forced to fold his hardware company, NeXT, which crushed his soul, according to biographers. And hence, the refreshing logo created by Rand became the synonym for a founder’s fall as well as the underpowered, overpriced computers he tried to sell to universities across the world. (Thankfully, Apple purchased NeXT as well as its software, which became the heart of every iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.)
The NeXT logo, which is archived at MoMA, was striking and beautiful. But, in the end, it was useless. That is maybe the most important takeaway for an entrepreneur – do not expect your brand identity to make your product or company better. Sure, it is vital to put serious thought into it, but perfecting it down to the last pixel won’t ensure your business succeeds.
5. Do Not Go After The Popular Vote
Critics might question his messaging tactics, however, Elon Musk is a risk-taker that boasts the net-worth of over $20 billion. He has dismissed digs at his work style, saying to the New York Times,
“In case you have anybody who can do it better than me, kindly let me know.”
Evidently, he hasn’t turned out to be the most efficient leader in tech through being well-liked.
When it comes to learning lessons on branding, take note that while the majority of CEOs consult legal counsel before they share messages with their audience, Musk fires off content with almost no regard to legal, financial, or political consequences to his firms.
Most of Musk’s projects will still take years to complete, so he is not done publicizing the potential of his companies for disrupting almost every global program and major industry in existence. Through investing in sustainable technology , intensely pushing innovation and leveraging all and any platforms to spread his philosophy, he has transformed himself into one of the most revolutionary innovation and business leaders in the past decade.
Although NASA staff might be worrying because of his allegedly under-delivering and overpromising, Musk has the potential to bring space exploration to the forefront whilst inviting supporters to share and engage over information and ideas.
Other CEOs would do well to revisit their brand messaging tactics as it looks like the age of the hyper-interactive executive is set to continue.
6. Pay Immense Attention To The Quality of Your Content
Needless to say, if you wish to market something efficiently then you need to do it correctly. A lot of brands attempt to reach their audiences with average content. They invest too little energy and money in production quality and instead use their budget to advertise using uninspired content.
Neil Patel, Co-founder of Crazy Egg & Kissmetrics, also an expert in digital marketing industry, once said that
“You can choose to put in the time and work required to create great content and build a prosperous brand. Or you can choose to take the easy path and write poor content – a path that ultimately will get you nowhere. It will only result in a waste of time, energy and resources.”
Image source: neilpatel.com
Your content is usually the first thing people look at. If what they see is unimpressive, they will assume your service, team, product and company are also average. So it is absolutely vital that your content is high quality and tailored specifically to your audience.
Likewise, working with influencers that your target audience has an affinity with, who create quality content themselves, is likely to add value to your brand. Working with influencers is a proven successful marketing tactic for raising the content bar. Besides the other advantages of influencer marketing, such as reaching bigger audiences, influencers help you create better content. There is a huge advantage in having their help in telling the story of your brand.
Now, over to you. Take these 6 valuable lessons from people who have achieved huge success in their entrepreneurial pursuits, and use them to grow your own business.
About the author: Harsh Nankani is a Digital Marketer at Chataffy. He mostly focuses on content marketing and believes that the prospects of any business should get something without paying anything.