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Building a strong brand starts with you

I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Sashka Hanna-Rappl last week about branding your business. Sashka helps businesses create their soul brand, capturing your uniqueness, so that your ideal customers can find you through the strong brand you create together.

Sashka helps you create a strong brandApart from having fun and sharing stories in our half hour together, Sashka shared some ideas for business owners as to how to create a strong brand, using your life purpose as the starting point. She calls it reverse marketing – starting with you, not your customer. It’s not the usual way of creating a strong brand, that you’ll find with many marketing agencies, or branding specialists.

However, it works.

Just think about it. If you can capture all your passion for your business, plus how your product or service helps your customer, then that’s it isn’t it? All in one go, you’ve created something that is identifiable to potential customers and they understand why buying from you is just right for them, and not your competitor.

How to create a strong brand

We all know, and can list strong brand names. We often know the stories behind how the brand grew, or started, or how it developed. Think of Apple and Steve Jobs. Whether you buy their products or not, can you feel the essence of the brand from the story you know? Simple, effective, giving the customer something beautiful and strong to communicate with others/listen to music easily.

Sashka’s advice about creating your brand, from reaching into your soul first, may sound a bit unusual. So think about that now too. If you could get your passion, your story, the why you run your business, and the benefits of what you do for customers into your brand, do you think you’ll sell more?

Yes, I think that’s right too.

People buy from people, and we all love stories, so why not think about our business in the same way. Why should our business, which is what we want to earn our living, and create a pension for us and our family, not benefit from all the things we love & attract us to buy the things we want in our lives?

Know your Life Purpose. Sashka said, “this isn’t your why”. Now to my mind, it’s the WHY that Simon Sinek talks about. It’s not, “I want to buy the extras so we can go on holiday”,or, “I’m creating a pension pot so I can travel when I retire”.

What are your Core Values? The things which are running through your body all the time. The things which without them you feel lost. In Sashka’s workbook, she says, “Your values are your Zone of Genius in Communication. This is where your inner strength and energy will often come from”.

Listen to Yourself. What others think isn’t important here. Not your partner, nor your customers. Starting with yourself can seem selfish, but if the words your using for describing your business aren’t coming from you, or are your words, they won’t sound genuine. Listening is so important to business owners.

Know that words can change. When you’re working on this reverse marketing to get really clear about who you are, and why your business is different, remember that you’re in charge. Your words can change, remember our conversation about words that sell? You are allowed to have some fluidity in the words you use, even though your core values will remain the same.

I’ve seen many business owners spend a lot of time, and money, on getting business cards & paper, and websites built around words that someone else created for them, which didn’t feel right. It was a clumsy way to start their business. Some pulled through and made it work. However others, it didn’t start with them, and the customers didn’t come as the business didn’t attract the right people.

Be You. Be Honest. Sometimes we don’t know exactly why we’re being drawn to a particular colour, or image, or word. Trust yourself. You’re a business owner, and totally in charge of yourself and your business. Give yourself some time to create your strong brand before sharing with others.

Are you ready to create your brand?

Let’s start with Sashka’s book, Soul’d Out, and/or a Find your Why session. I’ve used both of these methods, hand in hand to create the brand words I use in my business. They feel right to me, and hopefully you can see my passion for helping other business owners succeed come through. There’s still work to do. There’s always work to do.

Don’t be afraid of being you, and sharing your soul, to create your strong brand. Your business will thank you.

I’d love your thoughts on branding & how you’ve created your brand for your business.

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Do you love your business?

Do you love your business? I do now, but it hasn’t always been like that.

All the businesses I’ve run have come from passions I’ve had, and I’ve loved them all. However, times change, life happens, and I know I’ve fallen out of love with some of these over time.

My difficulty, in business, came when it took me too long to recognise I know longer loved what I was doing, and I held on to the business for longer than was good for me. The business suffered.

The hardest time for me, was when I was holding on to a wonderful business I set up, bras4mums, when I’d stopping loving it. I loved the results it gave it’s customers, but my focus had been taken away onto other aspects of my life, and I knew I wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved.

As soon as I made the decision to let the business go, by selling it to someone who loves it, the weight lifted off my shoulders, my mind became clear, and I was able to focus on my other work and businesses. I started flying again, and loving everything I did.

How do you know if you love what you do?

do you love your businessI often get asked this. For some people, it’s obvious. They know as soon as they wake up in the morning what they’re setting out to achieve, and the small step they’re taking that day to work towards it. For others, it creeps up on you, like it did for me.

It may be that you love working with customers, or creating the product, but you don’t like all the pfaff that goes with running the business. Or, you love working from home and the flexibility it gives you, but you don’t like worrying about when you’re going to get paid next.

When I’m asked this, I get people to simply stop, and sit quietly. I ask them questions, and we explore together what they love, and what they could easily never do ever again. They work through the different ideas about:

  • why did you first start your business?
  • do you love your business?
  • what do you like least about running a business?
  • if you didn’t have to work for money, what would you do?
  • what’s the most important thing in the world to you?

These questions generally spark ideas, or questions that they have been hiding from themselves about what they love, and what’s not so great at the moment.

What’s the difference between love your business & love your family?

Well for me, I knew that when bras4mums came to life, it was a new baby in our family. It wasn’t just that this business was born 6 months after my youngest son was born. It grew with us as a family. Whilst I didn’t have to feed and clothe it, if I didn’t love and nuture it, it wouldn’t sustain it’s own life.

I know some business owners keep their business life quite separate from their family life. There’s nothing wrong with that. But as business owners we are who we are, and bring ourselves to our business. Does that separation mean that this business isn’t part of a nuturing family structure? (maybe that’s a question for another day).

I believe you can love your business with passion, in the same way you love your family. Your business can give you back enough love and support, from customers, and the joy you bring others through products and services, to warrant it’s “seat at the table”.

Now your family may disagree with the amount of time you’re spending on your business, and say, “you love that business more than you love us”. Is that how it feels sometimes? Just think of a poorly child. How much time will you spend with the child to nurse them back to health? Will you do the same with your business?

“I’m not sure I love my business enough”

Enough for what? The time away from the family? Time v Income equation? Effort v Reward?

Go back to the questions I ask my clients. Why are you in business? What’s important to you?

You need to be really clear about what you’re doing with your time, and what you want to achieve. Not just in your business, with your time. We only have so much of it, and we know we want to make the most of what we have.

Find Your Why

I’ve been learning a lot about myself these past few years. I felt there was something missing, or I’d missed something vital. It was almost like I knew I hadn’t found my “thing”. When I read Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” book last year, everything started making sense again.

I undertook my own Find Your Why session and was amazed at what I learnt about myself, and it was almost like a game of Ker-plunk, where everything starts falling into place. Even though I loved what I was doing, I didn’t know why I was doing it. Once I learnt why all these different things were important to me, I started doing more of each of them, and loving them all even more.

Do you love your business?

If you answer YES straight away, that’s fantastic. I’d love to interview you for our #inconversationwith series, so please get in touch.

If you’re wavering, and saying, something like, “well, I think so”, or, “I love this part of it”, or, “I used to love it”, then maybe it’s time to review what you love doing. There’s nothing wrong with reviewing your business (we should do it regularly anyway), and your role within it.

Let’s book a Find Your Why session together, and really get to why you love your business, (or parts of it), so you can move forward with confidence to grow yourself and your business.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a ‘Find Your Why’ session with TJ. This session is really worth your time for both your business and personal life. In fact what TJ will get to, is what your personal strengths and traits are and how these can be incorporated into a successful business. TJ is an excellent listener, and this is essential to this session. You need to be prepared to ‘go deep,’ tell the stories you really want to tell and watch TJ bring out the main themes and characteristics to help you bring your core values into your work life.
If you feel like you want your business to be a reflection of you, I would advise you invest in the time with TJ and watch how things develop. We have lots of future plans now and I can’t wait to see how these unfold. Finding your ‘why’ with TJ will help motivate and inspire you.

Angie Webb, Glenbreck Health Ltd

N.B. The Find Your Why session is a bonus in our Confident Business Owner programme, for extra value.

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