When looking to grow your customer base, if you are straight up cold calling, chances are the customer is going to feel a bit blindsided and will be on guard – a tactic that often involves a "do not contact me again" response. On the flip side, having a strong reputation in the industry or following up on "warm" leads -- ones that involve referrals from friends or business colleagues -- can provide more fruitful results. Which approach would you rather do? Obviously, the one that is much easier to pitch.

That’s the difference that having a powerful brand makes. Instead of a shady cold caller, you’re a trusted authority.

Apple. Coca-Cola. Amazon. Nike. Google. These brands didn’t happen by accident: They’re masterfully marketed, constantly managed and extremely successful.

If you aim to add your own company to the hallowed names above, follow these steps to cultivate a strong, enduring and effective brand.

Related: This Is How a Brand Loses Its Luster

Decipher your brand’s DNA. If you can’t sum up what your brand’s all about in a few words, you can be sure your customers can’t either. Crafting a crystal clear message is absolutely key.

Ask yourself these questions to get to the bottom of your brand: Who is your audience? What are their pain points that you’re solving? What’s your promise to them? What are your biggest differentiators? The most powerful brands are relevant, valuable, inspiring and one of a kind.

Once you’ve got your answers and whittled them down to the core essentials, it’s time to put them into action.

Be absolutely consistent. In leading Apple, Steve Jobs made sure every little thing they did reinforced their brand. According to Walter Issacson’s biography Steve Jobs, Jobs believed that an effective company "must be able to impute its values from the first impression it makes," Issacson wrote.  "It must convey its values and importance in everything it does, from packaging to marketing.

Related: The 4 Elements of a Legacy Brand

People are too busy to figure out mixed messages: Reaffirm what you stand for every single step of the way. Keep beating that drum -- from your website to design to your business cards and structure should all work together to deliver your brand’s promise.

Strive for authenticity. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz understands that raw advertising dollars don’t equal customer loyalty -- your brand needs to walk the walk: “Mass advertising can help build brands but authenticity is what makes them last," Schultz once said. "If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.”

For entrepreneurs to get ahead in the game, they need to say what they believe in, back up their talk and infuse their brand with genuine care for their customers. Too many companies overpromise or come off too sales-like. When a brand has real integrity, customers take notice.

Related: There's an Art to Telling Your Brand's Story: 4 Ways to Get It Right