On a recent interview for her Behind the Business series on YouTube, my friend Manali asked this question: “What would you say are the 3 main pillars in a strong brand & presence?” – the episode just dropped if you want to tune into the entire conversation!
But, you might be surprised by the answer I gave to that particular question. To me, the three pillars are:
- A Defined Purpose
- Cohesive & Consistent
- Knows Their Audience & They Know it Well
I’m sure you’ve likely heard about either one or all of these before if you’ve been around the business realm for any length of time. But, they’re worth reiterating again. So, to avoid incorporating extra fluff that wouldn’t really add value to this post anyhow, we’re going to dive right in here!
A Defined Purpose (or Why)
“A great brand is able to articulate their why, the reason why they do what they do, and why they do it that way, in such a way that rallies everybody around the cause.” (08:27 in the episode)
You may have heard the phrase – “start with why” coined by Simon Sinek. It’s the idea that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And my version of this answer stems partially from that idea. To me, a defined purpose is the pinnacle of a strong brand. And it has nothing directly to do with the specifics of what your business does. A defined purpose essentially vocalizes the difference you want to make in the world (or for people). And therefore defines why you do the thing that you do the way that you do it. The actual work you do is just a means for accomplishing that aim.
Your purpose is the mantra your clients latch onto and why they choose to work with you specifically. It’s the mission you can invite your into clients to create a community of people that say this – this is what we stand for and live for.
When a strong why is the root of all that you do in business, the way you do business can change because the why you do the thing you do is your identity – not the what.
Don’t quite know what your purpose is? I invite you to scribble down your answers to this series of questions:
1. What is my ultimate goal? (essentially your main goal in life or biz that has nothing to do with your work)
2. What change do I want to see in the lives of my clients?
3. How will that change affect their communities or sphere of influence (and thus the world)?
And see if in the those words, you find the very ones that define your brand’s purpose.
Consistent & Cohesive
Consistency is a term that seems to be thrown around a lot these days. So, we’re going to start by throwing out any triggering thoughts you may have on the subject. And I’ll assure you – a consistent brand isn’t solely one that shows up regularly.
A brand is simply defined as the perception someone has of your business. [like what they think of when they think of your biz] The WAY you show up consistently teaches people HOW to perceive you (imagery, messaging, story, offerings, etc.)
Strong brands commit to being both cohesive and consistent in every interaction. From a streamlined image to an effort to make clients feel a certain way from start to finish in their experience. It’s evident in the smallest things – like the same profile picture across all social platforms that’s also the first image you’ll see on their website. OR always introducing yourself with the same title to describe what you do anytime you’re asked in person or online. – And it’s obvious in the bigger things like – a solid brand design, clear messaging, even a set of brand photos that are used across all platforms (website, sales pages, socials, emails, etc).
Strong, cohesive brands stem from a deep knowledge of what the brand is and what’s it not. And they rarely stray from that. Some may think that that stifles growth or originality. I argue that it allows them to set themselves a part by “staying in their lane” and growing exponentially more because of that fact.
Know Their Audience and They Know it Well.
“A strong brand knows their audience, and they know them well. They always create for them, make decisions for them, create offerings around them. They look at their needs and they create from that versus creating something and then hoping someone needs it.” (10:49 in the episode)
Knowing who your ideal client is empowers you to operate your business with intention. But it’s not the who it’s – how they live, what they struggle with and what they truly need . An ideal client is essentially mosaic of the characteristics of the person who you are specifically equipped to serve in your business. Knowing who that is takes the guesswork out of a lot in business: new offerings, marketing, sales, copy, goal setting, content creation, etc.
At first, defining an ideal client may feel like you’re limiting yourself or excluding people who’d find value in what you offer. The reality is though, getting clear on the specifics of who you serve and what they actually need only makes it easier to create purposefully. Because when you sit down to write, you’re speaking to them. When you add or change up an offering, it stems from what you know to be true about them and what they need. See now why having a specific person in mind is actually a strength of your brand rather than an achilles heel on your pathway to growth?
Pro Tip: start with your own clients when creating this profile. Are there certain clients you loved working with? Take out a pad and paper and write out what made them special. – Why did you love working with them? What pain points are common to them all? What problems did you aid them in solving? And then try and string together the similarities you find in of each of the profiles you curated. In that list you may just stumble upon your own mosaic of an ideal client I mentioned above.
A word of encouragement here at the end. A strong brand is brewed in a continual process of discovery and refinement that works best over time. All the best in the industry that you see (and maybe envy) didn’t curate their brands overnight. They did the hard work of figuring this stuff out and then lived in it and refined it time after time until it was distilled down to its purest form – which is what you likely see now.
Do your best with what you have. Don’t be afraid to try on new things – some people would say “throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks”. And at the end of the day, just know that the more you say something or do something either the better you’ll get at it or the more refined it will become.
There you have it! My take on the 3 pillars of a strong brand. I hope this was helpful to you in your journey to growing a sustainable business.
If you enjoyed this read & are looking to further solidify your own brand – I’m launching something next week called The Brand Plan! It’s a 6-week group coaching-like program that aids you in curating a brand so strong it influences everything you do, especially your marketing! Join the waitlist for that HERE.
And be sure to tune in to my full conversation with Manali on the episode to hear more about creating an intentional brand, staying true to yourself, and overcoming limiting beliefs. If you want to follow along with her show, new episodes air every Monday on her channel!
If you’d like to follow along with Manali, you can find her on her website or on Instagram! She’s offering a free masterclass on how to help photographers quickly grow their business within their first year that you can tune into HERE!