HTC mobile phone on golden fur. representing the idea of brand. "How to build a brand. The cold, hard truth nobody's talking about!?"

How to build a brand. The cold hard truth nobody’s talking about!?

Your ‘Brand’ is not your logo, colour palette, visual identity, products and services, trademarks, patents, shelf space, billboards, packaging, etc., but every possible interaction you could have with your potential and existing customers or stakeholders and how you make them feel in each of those from smallest to greatest. Your brand is the sum total of all the experiences, perceptions, expectations, memories, and stories they associate with your business, and hence branding is how you influence the above.

“People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou.

Great brands begin by pinpointing not just “who we are?” but their “Raison d’être,” i.e., “why does our business exist in the first place?”. A lot of so-called branding experts would tell you to start branding by “identifying your audience,” but that’s not how you build a genuine and memorable brand. All true things come from within, from an inner reflection, and so does a brand that makes a difference in the world! Hence, I insist you start with honesty, sincerity, authenticity, and self-reflection! How you perceive yourself in your head(s) corresponds directly to how you represent yourself in the world!

Don’t be Freaking Neutral!

A brand isn’t supposed to be neutral. It isn’t supposed to be altruistic, but it’s definitely some-truistic. It’s definitely about providing value, but it’s much more than that. It is about caring for some “issue,” representing some “ideal,” and serving some “people” very deeply, like no one else can!

“If no one hates it, no one really loves it.” – Jessica Walsh

Don’t be a people-pleaser; don’t be distracted by ways to make a quick buck or by trying to capitalise on recent trends and whatever you do, but don’t be just another commodity. Discover your personality, distinguish yourself, stand out from the crowd, and find something you genuinely care about!

Ask these questions:

  1. Why is this important to me or us?
  2. What makes this particular pain point more important than the rest?
  3. Am I really passionate about this?
  4. Do I really care about serving this particular group of people, or is it just another payday?
  5. How does this business enterprise contribute to the greater good?
  6. Some personal questions, like: Am I a Windows person or a Mac person? Do I like to work in a sunlit office with bright colours or in a dark room with cool neon lights? If you’re a very “hip” individual, then the last thing you want to do is work with someone super corporate!

Don’t be neutral! Nobody really loves elevator music! They can tolerate it but they don’t identify with it, they don’t dance, laugh, or cry to it. It’s just another background noise!

Branding Starts with Authenticity — Be a Unicorn

And although this intention is intangible, when a company communicates this intention with clarity and sincerity in every single possible interaction and decision it makes, the XYZ company is now a brand. Now people start identifying with it, they have stories and expectations.

For example, if I told you Apple is going to come up with a series of deodorants, it is not difficult to have some anticipation in mind, some vision of how it would be packaged or who it would be for. You could immediately feel something that is quite abstract yet very real, whereas if I told you Unilever is going to come up with a new laptop, you have no freaking idea what it’s going to be like, and you have no expectations because Apple has a brand, Unilever has a logo, billboards, advertisements, and shelf spaces.

So then the easiest way to start establishing yourself as a brand is by being authentic.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene Brown

Authenticity will take your brand to places algorithms and AI can’t.

Being authentic requires acceptance of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity. Being authentic makes us fearless; it keeps us going when everyone else stops.

Authenticity makes you effortless

Authenticity requires no pretence, and that makes you effortless. After all, we can fake genuine care and concern only for so long. If you ever feel tempted to be inauthentic, think of those politicians you despise, and you’ll be back on track.

Authenticity makes you integral.

In this day and age, it only takes one viral video from a dissatisfied customer or employee to unmask you and sink your business. The more authentic you are, the fewer chances there are of that happening. But there’s also a great reward waiting for you. While one negative viral video can ruin your business, if you’re authentic, one viral video from a random stranger can also make you an overnight success.

At TCV, we help businesses like yours create compelling brands that people buy from and advocate for.  If you are interested in learning more, shoot us an email at, and we’ll share more resources with you for free.

What are your thoughts on branding and being authentic? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed the post, then do share it with your fellow entrepreneurs and loved ones; after all, sharing is caring.


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