I’m in the process of building a premium sock company. It’s one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever had to do. And the sock making is the easy part. Trying to establish a brand from nothing is a long and hard process that never truly ends.
I recently opened my first physical store, and to add to the experience of being in-store, I’ve developed a special scent that’s also used in my online gift wrapping. So wherever you open a gift, you smell what it would smell like if you were inside a Nic Harry store. It’s a subtle technique that influences the way people experience the brand.
That said, managing your brand can be very difficult. Modern customers can be fickle and have become adept at perceiving even the most subtle forms of manipulation.
Here’s how you should approach brand building and customer development.
Your brand is not a person
Let’s get this one out of the way right up-front: I don’t want to engage with your brand like it’s one of my friends.
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I love Puma shoes, but Puma is not a friend of mine. In fact, there isn’t a single brand that I’d like to be ‘friends’ with.
Stop trying to build a brand by pretending it is a person. Early on with Nic Harry, I positioned the brand as accessible yet premium, and I didn’t try to befriend people through the brand.
I often engage in meaningful conversations with customers, but I do it as Nic from Nic Harry – not as the brand itself. People want to talk to people and engage with humans, so be yourself and speak for your brand whenever you can.
Live your brand
The best way to personify a brand is to live it. I only wear Nic Harry socks. I talk relentlessly about my brand to people who are interested and take every opportunity to engage with customers in an authentic way.
Every touch point is a potential sales point. Every tweet you engage with, every person you meet, every email you send, you need to live, breath, eat and sleep your brand.
The more you engage, the more people will become aware of you and what you do. If you have a good product, that backs up the story and closes the sale.
There is a tipping point where people will become immune to your spammy self-promoting diatribe so be cautious about pushing your agenda too far and too often to the same people. If you’ve sold them, step back and enjoy the sale.
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Real-world word of mouth
I spent the first two-and-a-half years at Nic Harry building old-school word of mouth. It still works in 2015.
Why? Because there are simpler ways to share authentic stories today. If people love your product and your story, they can share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, email, blog, WhatsApp or any other new platforms that appear.
Keep telling your story in an authentic way and find an angle that makes people want to share. The rest will happen over time.
A product is not a brand
You can’t base your entire brand on a single product forever. Yes, a single product can help to build your brand and gain exposure, but after a while, you’ll need to improve, or innovate, or add to your range.
Brand building takes time. Remember that when you feel like your new business isn’t gaining traction.