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It's Not You, It's Your Story: Why Branding Matters

It's Not You, It's Your Story: Why Branding Matters

Amy Cosper

Image credit: Julia Vandenoever
This story appears in the April 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

How can I become a great brand? How can I make this brand sustainable? What will bring value to my brand? Just what is my story, and how do I tell it? And, my favorite question and the most important by far: What the hell is branding?

Branding is more than a logo. It’s more than a website. It’s more than a business card. It’s more than the colors and typefaces you choose to represent your company. Your brand is your voice in the marketplace, and it is your proposition for disruption. It is your opportunity to create something with lasting impact. It is how you tell your story, and it is absolutely key to your success and your survival. 

Most entrepreneurs go to market not with a brand, but with an idea—an idea that can be so soulful and personal that it can be challenging to present and explain to others. You think everyone should intrinsically understand it, as you do—but they don’t. And that’s why you need to develop effective brand messaging.

One of the most frequent comments I hear is, “People just don’t understand us, our value and what we do, but we are absolutely the best at it.” That statement is a problem. Your brand is your story, and if you can’t tell it, then nobody will get it.

If you ever catch yourself making that sort of statement, take a step back. Because it is total BS. No one is that special. This is business, not Dr. Phil, and if you cannot communicate the value of what you bring to the market, the economy and the world, well then, you have a problem. 

Branding is about knowing what you stand for and how you communicate the values and character of your product or service. As a company founder, this is not so much a design choice as it is a leadership decision. Your job as chief is to know exactly, concisely and in context what you stand for. You are the lone author of your story, your mission and your reason for being. How you tell it is your job.

In this month's issue, we bring you some vivid examples of great branding—from Levi’s to beer koozies to social media stars. These are brought to you by the top minds in the business. Not to play favorites—but, hell, I am playing favorites—perhaps the story in this issue I love most is about one man’s mission to democratize porridge. Yes, porridge. The gooey grain that warms your heart. (Or something like that.)

His name is Lasse Andersen and he lives in Copenhagen, where porridge is sacrosanct. His story is this: In his heart and mind, porridge—cozy, healthy and a major part of Danish food culture—needs to be bigger. Everyone needs access to it. Democratize porridge! He was passionate enough to create a chain of retail outlets and expand into packaged goods. And he has, perhaps by accident, created a brand that is spilling across international borders.

The beautiful and brilliant thing about Andersen’s brand is that its mission and value are crystal-clear to his customers and can be summed up in one word: comfort. 

Branding is about democratizing your product or service. And the April issue of Entrepreneur is meant to help you do just that.

Edition: November 2016

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