Everyone has a brand whether they like it or not. I am working on a project with branding expert Floortje Lopes and she is always reminding her clients and audiences that “a logo and a website isn’t a brand.”
A brand is bigger. It’s about who we are. It’s about an association people make with us. It’s what we own as an identity.
For a long time branding was thought of as a trademark, trade name or actual mark on a product. And that type of “branding” still exists and is powerful. But the world is changing.
More and more a brand is about what a person — or entity — stands for. What is the association? What does it mean?
How does this work in real life?
For those of you that know me I wear unusual suits. The unusual suits, once explained to audiences and business contacts, brings home the concept of Do Business Differently™. Some people now even introduce me as the Do Business Differently™ guy. It’s part of who I am and it’s part of the core message I bring to my audiences and business — you have to find your unique way of doing business.
And Do Business Differently™ is a subpart of a bigger brand which is my association with the future of business. If you watch my work you’ll see that every aspect of my work is tied in some way, shape or form to the future of business including Do Business Differently™ .
At the end of the day the future of business is my central brand. It’s what I want to be known for. It’s what I want people to associate my name with. And it’s what all my work connects to.
That’s how a brand should work. People should think of you and some association you wish for them to have. Are you the guru for trade show marketing like Dianna Geairn? Are you the go-to for speaking coaching like George Hendley?
Whatever it is people should associate you, and perhaps your company, with something that is who you are.
That’s the state of the world today in branding. But branding has been changing and will continue to change.
So what’s the future of branding? What should we be doing today to get us thinking about tomorrow? What should we be doing to get ready for the future?
Faceless Is Out
We start with the premise that faceless branding is out. Just being some name or some logo with no human elements behind it simply doesn’t work in today’s market. Even the big brands are pushing hard to associate with athletes or celebrities to bring a face to their brand.
And so goes it for all of our businesses. In the speaking world we constantly hear audiences want authentic. As simple as this sounds so many brands and businesses have gotten so polished at what they do that they simply don’t convince others that they actually are what they say they are.
More and more people want to see brands that are believable. Brands with a real human face to them that they can connect with. Someone they feel gets them.
I believe it is not a coincidence that we are moving into a world of automation and computers doing more and more tasks while humans want more personal connection. We, as humans, have a long history or personal connect and that history continues to today even with our computers.
We want to work with brands that are real.
Personal Brands Become More Important
And within branding the last decade has seen a rise in personal branding. More and more attention is being placed into conveying who you are as a person and, in the case of corporate brands, who are the people behind the brand. People want to know about the person they are doing business with.
The trends show this will become more prevalent in the future. And while it might be scary for some that are building a personal brand to show who they are and risk offending some potential clients or customers this is becoming a market necessity. It’s simply getting to the point where some people won’t do business with those that they don’t trust or feel like they know.
As we move forward into the future of business developing, presenting and positioning your personal brand will become more and more important.
As a subset of this it is becoming more and more important for business leaders, or executives, to have brands too. With the fast moving employment world we are in today, more and more executives need to show who they are. Whether it is for closing a deal in your current business or getting ready for your next job move executives need more than name recognition. They need others to know who they are.
We are seeing more and more of our clients and friends focused on these. Even if currently employed or running their company more and more the executive needs others to know who they are as a professional. What are they capable of and what do they stand for.
So often in today’s economy, and the future economy, opportunities go to those that are associated with a particular knowledge or expertise. We expect this trend to continue into the future and for it to become more important that each executive have a strategy so that others in the marketplace know who they are.
Even In Companies The Person Matters
The emphasis on personal brands and executive brands inform us that even within companies the person really matters. While companies should strive to have an identity and a brand so should the individuals within those companies.
The companies that will be the most successful in the future of business will allow their people to show who they are and their identities. That, in turn, will lead to deeper client and customer connections which fuels the business.
Companies wishing to be successful in the future will need to find ways to have their business brand supported by the individual brands of the people involved in the business. So companies should be looking for the way, today, to allow individual brands to be showcase to attract business from those that connect with the personal brands showcased.
How Is Your Do Business Differently™ In Your Brand?
And with individual — personal and executive — brands being so important in the future leaders should be focusing on how their uniqueness — what I call their way of Do Business Differently™ — is shown in their brand. My wearing unusual suits would be an extreme example. For others it might be some way of incorporating their hobbies, interests or personality into the business.
At all levels through the business uniqueness should be found and shown in a way that is relevant to the customer or client.
While the future of business is creating a lot of sameness in the market (same technology deployed, same tools, similar offers across industries) buyers are connecting to unique and realness. The future of business is going to involve showing more of this consistently.
What do you think? How have you brought out uniqueness in your business? What are you doing to get ready for the future?
By: The Our Shawn McBride, is the man you call when you want a keynote, training or a consultant to get your business ready for The Future of Business. He’s the host of The Future Done Right(TM) Show and a long-time business attorney. If you want regular content on the future of business subscribe to get new blog posts from us here.