‘Brand’ may be misunderstood but it shouldn’t be underestimated

People are often quite confused about ‘brand’. This is particularly true in a business to business, tech-heavy sector like cleantech (where my focus is).

Companies often think that their brand and logo are the same thing. Or that it’s all about the visuals and design. Or that it’s something you think about when you get more established. Frankly, many companies just don’t think about branding at all.

I believe that good branding is fundamental to a company’s success. If you’re confused about what exactly a brand is or why it’s important, here are three things to consider:

1. Your brand should inform everything you do

The first thing to say is that your brand is much more than just your logo or visual identity. Your brand is the whole experience someone has of your company. Of course it’s about how you look, but it’s also the story you tell, how you choose to communicate, the principles you’re built on and (most importantly) the vision you’re working towards. Your brand should inform everything you do, not just your communications and it needs to start from day one.

2. Your brand is your unique personality

Your brand is who you are as a company, it’s why you exist and why people should care. It’s an opportunity to set out a clear and compelling mission and mode of operation for your business. Perhaps that still feels a bit fluffy so let’s put it another way… Your brand is why people buy from you (or invest in you, or partner with you). People are driven by emotions (even hard core venture capitalists), they want to be part of an experience, a journey, a story. You create that through your brand.

3. Your brand is why people should care

The author Simon Sinek famously said: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. The most successful companies in the world today (Apple, Addidas, Airbnb to name just a few) understand the power of why. They offer powerful, emotional messages that gives customers something to believe in. In the cleantech industry, we are almost always focused on WHAT we’ve invented and HOW it works. We forget about the most important part. Take the time to find your why and make that central to your brand.

(If you’re looking for help establishing your brand, take a look at our new workshops for startups.)

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