What is Brand Identity
To me, it is the identity that is given to a set of beliefs, philosophies, desires, and personalities that are willing to stand together to represent something bigger than themselves.
ReebokONE is a premier fitness company that stands for social, mental, and physical constructs, each one a foundation that a better human can be built upon. ReebokONE has evolved into a brand that demands reform of the fitness community and recognizes those of us out there who are committed to living a strong, healthier, and sweaty lifestyle. Grit and dedication are underlying characteristics of the team behind ReebokONE, and the devote followers of ReebokONE feel at home among a brand that supports their tough fitness lifestyle.
Determining who you are as a brand is a groundbreaking experience, one that changes and is fluid throughout it's existence. Although you may have changed some from your college days, you are still made up of a few traits and ideals that govern your day to day pursuits.
When We Started
When starting my persona brands, the end goals were not clearly defined, and often I had no revenue and marketing strategy, and did not know it would ultimately allow me to quit my corporate jobs and make lasting relationships with countless individuals whom of which Imay have never known.
Looking back, there were a few questions I asked myself that shaped what and who I am today as an individual, founder, and young entrepreneur.
1. Who Are You?
Literally, who are you? You need to look deep within and pull out what characteristics and personalities are within you and what is it exactly that you are made of.
Finding what makes you tick, what gets you going at 5am every morning not dreading another day, and what personal gain do you get from building YOUR brand will help you understand what it is you expect for your future.
2. How Do You Want To Be Remembered?
I remember a mental exercise I did once that I really help formulate who I was and what my brand would become. I was asked to write an obituary for my business, stating who I was, the things I accomplished, the lives I touched, and what I left behind.
By doing that simple exercise, I was able to pinpoint what I wanted my brand to be perceived as, the voice and feel, and the mission. By looking at what it is you want your brand to leave behind you are able to definitely answer the burning question to any start-up brand, "Who are you and what special and unique thing/emotions/experiences can you offer those around you?"
3. Why Do You Want To Start?
If your answer is to make money, you may be in in it for the wrong reasons. Yes, we all start a business to make money, however you need to have your heart and mind in the right place to truly find success.
For example, my fiancé works for Kate Spade New York and they are making an animal orientated purse and handbag line that is constructed completely out of WHICKER?! That idea doesn't excite me in the least, however, they are making money, and lots of it.
That said, you need to find the perfect balance of both a passion and an area that there is or could be a potential market. Since this is a TheBarbellCEO, let's assume that you are in to fitness, nutrition, and helping others. You need to then decide what is is you expect from this endeavor, and why. Only then will you be able to burn the midnight oil, work without pay until your "Big Break", and repeat that process with a unwavering tenacity day in and day out.
4. Who Is Your Target Audience?
Although defining your market to a "T" isn't the most imperative decision to make out of the gates, you do need to focus on a small niche group to start off.
When we started J2FIT, we tried to be everything to everyone. We wanted to train the best athletes using sciences most cutting edge practices while simultaneously marketing to the "Fit After 50" crowd. By not focusing on a specific niche when we started, we hit several road bumps and lacked razor sharp focus for our marketing and business strategies.
5. What Is Your Voice?
Your brand's voice and feel is an important factor to determine. Your brand's voice and tone expresses your intent and character to your audience. It build subconscious perceptions about who you are and what you stand for. It builds trust and consistency to who you are and what your mission it.
The way your content is worded, visually laid out, and your interactions in the market often speak out to your audiences and potential customers.
For example, the voice of TheBarbellCEO is one that is upfront, authentic, and knowledgable; with a side of humor, human undertones, and optimism.
You brand's voice and tone is another piece of the branding pie.
6. Will You Be The Face of the Brand Or The Wizard?
When my co-founder and I started J2FIT, we were the faces of our brand. J2FIT started as a blog called, "Journey 2 Fitness", which documented our personal triumphs and struggles throughout our journeys to optimal fitness; where we offering our personal experiences and insight to the masses.
When J2FIT went to the next level to become a NYC-based training and nutritional services brand offering 1-on-1 personal training, team training, and online exercise programming, we made the executive decision to take ourselves personally out of the spotlight and start to talk of J2FIT as it's own living and breathing organism.
Determining if you are the face of your brand or the wizard being the curtain will offer you a starting point when it comes time to create your brand's voice, image, and offerings.
7. What Will You Offer Your Audience?
Ay first glance your are probably thinking of what services/products you will sell. Although that is obviously important, you need to look deeper at what experiences, emotions, and life-changing guidance/thing will you offer to paying and NON-paying audiences alike.
Will you offer free blog content, ebooks, and an online presence for young entrepreneurs and fitness enthusiasts? Will you post motivating and inspiring videos and quotes on social media? What about offering "no-strings attached" impromptu coaching sessions in between sets at you local gym?
All those unique and free offerings provide a deeper layer of meaning and trust with your audiences, resulting in longer and more profitable relationships for the future.
8. What Are Your Plans For Revenue?
We started J2FIT as a means for us to learn more about people's needs, express our coaching opinions, and to de-stress from our corporate gigs. As our audience grew, we recognized that we had a particular niche that we could explore.
When determining your revenue model you need to look at what you are currently doing that you can either DO BETTER or already charge for. There is a fine line between ripping people off and recognizing your abilities.
When you keep a narrow focus on what your revenue model is when you start your brand, you are able to execute better. I have made the mistake of trying to offer too much to too many different target markets only to be left with a lot of sub par products and services (see #4). Start small, stay focused, and knock it out of the park.
9. Who/What Is Your Competition?
Competition is not always bad, but you need to determine what you are also up against. You want to understand your competition and see what they are doing great, what they are bad at, and where you can do something better or offer something they are not.
The fitness industry is fierce. The strengths that my brand has that many of my "competitors" do not are;
- Experience (Collegiate Athletics, High-End Personal Training, National Conferences, Mentors)
- Education (Masters, Bachelors, and National Coaching Creditials)
- Corporate Backing (ReebokONE)
- Vision (Since we are not a "starter", we are forced to sit back and see they field, recognizing the opponents strategies and exploiting their weaknesses.)
That simple exercise will allow you to see what you truly offer, and help build your branding and revenue strategies.
10. Why Can't Your Followers Continue Life Without You?
Where would your audience be without you? In my example, I am HOPING that without TheBarbellCEO you would feel lost, intimidated, and lack a plan of action for starting your fitness and business brand.
When deciding what it is that you are to become, you need to also picture what it would be like if you never existed. Try to determine the emotions and experiences that would have been missed out on, the struggles that will occur, and the lives that may not fully be maximized without you.
Chew on This!
Sometimes it's as easy as looking back at the struggles you have had to overcome, listening to others and their problems, and opening your eyes and ears to the world around you.