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The Secret Of Million-Dollar Brands Is Their Cult-Like Following

Your brand’s hardcore, true believers are the most persuasive advocates possible.

Kimanzi Constable

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Apple-Brand

When you think about some of the world’s greatest brands and most successful entrepreneurs, they all have one thing in common – a cult-like following.

When Apple releases a new iPhone, there are people lined up for days outside of Apple stores all over the world. When Malcolm Gladwell releases a new book, it’s all but guaranteed to be a New York Times bestseller. When Warren Buffet invests or buys a company, there’s a large group of investors who follow suit.

We live in the Information Age. Today, three billion people log onto the Internet every day. We live in a time of unparalleled access to knowledge and opportunity. There’s has never been a better time to build a million dollar brand that attracts some of those three billion people.

Successful brands have a loyal and cult-like following, and it’s not an accident how they reached the position they are currently in. There were six ways they built their brand and principles they continue to use despite reaching incredible levels of success in their lives and businesses. You can use these principles to build your brand, and that, in turn, will build your business.

1. Never stop connecting personally

One of the issues that arise when you achieve success is having enough time. You have responsibilities that need to be taken care of while having to maintain your business and its growth. Successful brands are one where the customer feels that personal connection.

Despite having grown a highly popular and cult-like brand, Gray Vaynerchuk continues to connect with his clients/followers on a personal level. That personal connection is what fuels his fans to tell others about Gary.

Word of mouth marketing is still a powerful way to grow a business. Don’t lose sight of where you started and who helped you get to where you are. You can’t connect with everyone, but you can do your best to stay in touch with your community.

Related: The Ultimate Marketing Tool Library for Entrepreneurs

2. Don’t copy influencers

Copy-cat-mirroring

One of the most common ways to create success is to model it. Modeling, however, is NOT the same as copying. There’s a temptation to look at the leaders in your industry and try to copy what they’re doing.

Consumers buy from someone they know, like, and trust.

They can never start the buying process in their mind if they never get to know the real you. You’ll never create a million dollar brand if it’s the clone of someone else’s.

3. Over deliver on your promises

People recognise and respect a brand that’s real. There’s no shortage of self-proclaimed “experts” that make promises but don’t deliver. Million dollar brands start with an entrepreneur who does what they say and works hard to fulfill their obligations. Don’t make promises just to impress — make promises that you’ll do everything in your power to make a reality.

Related: 4 Digital Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to Right Now

4. Create systems that foster growth and innovation

A business and its brand live and die by its ability to innovate. In recent years, Apple has been questioned because of a perceived lack of innovation. You can innovate and grow when you put the right systems in place.

These systems can include:

  • Delegate to your employees, a virtual assistant, or a consult who knows what they’re doing.
  • Have a plan for promotions for the calendar year.
  • Spend time creating your marketing campaign and make sure everyone involved understands the vision.
  • Have regular brainstorming sessions.

5. Continue to grow through personal development

personal-development

Your brand is connected to you as a person. If you want your brand to grow — you have to grow. Your personal growth can happen when you create healthy habits. These habits start with your health.

What you eat and how active you are have an effect on your energy and confidence — two things needed in entrepreneurship.

Growth also involves your mind. Reading books, watching inspiring/instructional videos, and investing in training all help you grow as a person, which leads to the growth of your brand.

Related: The Complete Guide To Writing A Marketing Plan

6. Never get success make you complacent

When you study successful brands, and the entrepreneurs behind them, you see a group of world changers. Elon Musk has redefined what we thought was possible in the auto, solar, and space industries.

He could sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor, but he continues to push forward. There are many entrepreneurs and brands like him. Success doesn’t have an end destination — it’s a constant state of growth. When you continue to grow, you create that cult-like million-dollar brand.

Complacency is the enemy of growth.

A million dollar brand, and beyond, is possible in your business. You can create loyal and raving fans who will stick with you for life. It starts with embracing what makes you unique and owning it.

Don’t try to copy even the most successful entrepreneurs. Just because it worked out a certain way for them, doesn’t mean you can copy and expect the same results. Build your brand differently.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Kimanzi Constable is a former bread delivery guy who self-published two books that have sold more than 82,000 copies. He is a published author, international speaker, life and business coach. His mission is to help men and women live life by their own design and create true freedom in life. Join him at KimanziConstable.com.

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Branding

Brush Up On Your Personal Branding To Cement Your Success As An Entrepreneur

Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge.

Richard Mukheibir

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personal-branding

When you run your own business, you are the brand champion and the brand ambassador – in fact, you are the brand. That is why in all the turmoil of start-up or getting a new product launched, you need to spare a moment to step back.

Think about how you are presenting to the world the brand that is so precious to you and that means so much for your future. Your clients certainly want to know and even see evidence that you are deeply committed to your brand. But there is a fine line between living the brand and letting the brand take you over and cloud your better judgement.

This is where personal branding becomes as important as your innovative product solutions or your customer service excellence. Edgy entrepreneur is one thing – but clients might shy away if they think that you have stepped over the edge and are more involved in process than delivery.

Check your life skills ratings in these three key everyday areas to see whether you need to pull back from the edge:

  1. Time management: Despite traffic problems or transport schedules, getting this right is vital. If you do not make it on time to an initial meeting with a client, this will raise alarm bells. The client’s immediate thought is, “Can I trust this person’s word about delivering on time?” Time is money and not being on time could ultimately cost you money.
  2. Look the part: If you look tired, dishevelled or have poor hygiene, instead of giving you a high five for pulling an all-nighter trying to troubleshoot a new product, clients might simply think that you do not fit with their corporate culture. Ask yourself if you even fit with your own corporate culture? Is this the way you want to present your brand and your business to the world?
  3. Clear the decks: You might just get away with your office or workshop looking like a tip where only you know where to find something. But do not let that attitude spill over into the world outside.

That apparently friendly and innocent courtesy of being escorted to your car by your host when you leave the meeting could cover them checking you out. Many business people judge potential service providers or partners by their car – not the brand but what it looks like.

Is it covered in dust and badly in need of a wash? Is it full of the rubbish of several lunches on the road and a muddle of paperwork? It is likely that they will deduce that this is how you run your business and how you would run your business relationship with them. In other words, the state of your car might get you the thumbs up or put an end to what had been a promising negotiation.

You can be how you like, do what you want when you are off duty. But when you are on your own business’s time, you are your own brand and you need to live up to it if you want to make your mark.

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Branding

5 Things You Can Do To ‘Humanise’ Your Brand

Face it: Consumers don’t automatically trust your brand or anyone else’s. Whaddaya gonna do?

Syed Balkhi

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branding

Let’s face it, consumers don’t trust brands. Most people view companies like faceless enemies; they’re just out to make money; they’re just telling us what we want to hear. So, if your company wants to win over more customers, you’ve got to get them to trust you.

In fact, according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three consumers surveyed ranked “trust in brand” among the top three factors, other than price, influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer. How do you get consumers to trust your company? You do it by showing them the human side of your brand. That will inspire more trust from consumers and boost your conversions.

To form meaningful relationships with your audience, check out these five ways to humanise your brand.

Show off your funny bone

netflix-tweet

One easy way is to show off your funny bone. According to researchers from the Turku PET Centre, Oxford and Aalto universities, social laughter leads to an endorphin release in the brain and may promote the establishment of social bonds. So, if laughter can make us feel good and encourage connections between people, you should consider using it to get the same results for your business.

Not a comedian yourself? Don’t worry; you can share popular and funny content that already exists. It’s what Netflix does when the media giant shares funny images from its shows.

Showing your more playful side will help consumers see that you’re not just a business focused on selling a product; you’re a human who can put aside your seriousness and have some fun.

Related: Boutique Branding Consultancy Morake Design House

Put your team members in the spotlight

Letting consumers see the people behind the business is a powerful way to humanise your brand. If consumers are looking at just your logo all the time, they might not see your brand as human. So, put your team members in the spotlight.

Shoot some quality photos of your staff members and display them on your website and your social media platforms. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer; iPhones today can take some pretty stunning shots. You might even share your employee of the month and include a story about what makes that staffer so great. Seeing the amazing people “behind the curtain” will help consumers put a face to the brand name.

Share user-generated content

Sharing user-generated content works to humanise your brand in two ways: First, it’s exciting and flattering to the user who gets his or her photo featured on your website or social media feed. Second, it shows other consumers that you have great relationships with their peers and that those people already enjoy your products.

Instead of being asked to blindly trust a company’s claims, consumers will see real-life people falling in love with your products, which will promote trust in your brand. Example? Airbnb does user-generated content well by sharing with its followers the amazing experiences its customers are having around the world.

airbnb-mozambique-holiday

If you don’t have any user-generated content, ask your customers for it. Do this in an email marketing campaign; add it to your branded packages for shipping; or create a post on social media encouraging users to take a photo of/with your product and share it in combination with a unique, branded hashtag.

Related: 5 Ways To Make Your Personal Branding Statement Stand Out

Tell authentic stories

Don’t spend all your time online just talking about how great your company is; humanise your brand by telling authentic stories. Sharing real stories about your failures, hardships and lessons that you’ve learned will help customers better relate and sympathise with you. According to Psychological Science, research suggests that shared pain may have positive social consequences; shared pain acts as a “social glue” to promote solidarity and togetherness between groups.

So, tell your target audience members stories that they can relate to, instead of simply presenting your brand as perfect. You could even share stories of your customers who previously struggled but then achieved success with help from your company/product. This will not only humanise your brand, but boost sales too.

Show appreciation for your customers

Letting your customers know that you care about and appreciate them is one of the best ways to humanise your brand. So, show appreciation for your best customers by sending them company swag or offering special discounts with a personalised message.

Buffer thanked one of its stand-out customers with not only company swag, but a personalised gift. I’m sure that those customers then became lifelong fans.

buffer-value-adds

Not every company can afford to send out swag to all of their best customers, but sending a gift to just a few of your rockstar fans can go a long way. For a less costly strategy, show appreciation to new customers by simply sending a welcome/thank you email. Not only will such appreciation for your customers humanise your brand, it’ll turn those customers into brand ambassadors.

Related: How A Branded Car Can Boost Your Business

Over to you

Be prepared for your business to have a lot more die-hard customers. With these tips for humanising your brand, consumers will be able to connect with your business, relate to you on a deeper level and want to have a relationship with your company for the long term.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Branding

How A Strong Brand Protects Your Business

Brand enthusiasts are welcome to follow Kyle Rolfe’s latest thoughts on brand building in South Africa and his analysis on relevant global trends and issues via Twitter @kylerolfeSA.

Kyle Rolfe

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intellectual-property

It is all too easy for small businesses to become victims of intellectual property theft and seeing their products and services copied by unscrupulous competitors. A clear case in point is that of Woolworths, which was recently accused of copying a baby carrier made by Ubuntu Baba, having a cheaper version made in China and selling it as its own in-house product.

Woolworths eventually apologised and withdrew its product, after Cape Town entrepreneur Shannon McLaughlin exposed similarities between the retailer’s baby carrier and that made by her company, Ubuntu Baba.

Small business owners can protect themselves from having their products or services copied by developing a strong and unique brand.

Brand uniqueness and an authentically developed product will give you a level of protection in the market, as it will be more difficult for a competitor to copy your offering.

What small business owners should avoid is the “white label solution”. This is taking any product, even one manufactured overseas, and putting your own branding and packaging on it and reselling it as your own.

There is nothing stopping your competitor from sourcing that same product and putting their branding on it and selling it as their own. In this case, as a small business owner, you would have no recourse.

Ubuntu Baba’s unique brand and authentically developed product, designed and manufactured locally, is what helped the small business successfully take on a giant retailer like Woolworths. They didn’t simply take someone else’s product and rebrand it as their own, they actually designed and built their own product.

A unique brand and product will position you as more than just a reseller and will give you a certain level of strength and protection in the market. It allows clients to differentiate you from your competitors and can also positively affect their purchasing decisions, directly impacting your profitability.

Effective branding, that is well defined and distinct, will not only help build your reputation, but it will also make you stand out from the competition.

Ultimately, your brand is your business identity. It is the image that you show to your client, making it one of your company’s most valuable assets. Effective branding portrays a company’s values and attracts the right client.

A strong brand identity also has the benefit of making your company appear bigger and stronger than your competition and consumers are generally attracted to well-established companies. So, ask yourself whether your branding conveys professionalism, reliability and trust.

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