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Want Your Business to Grow? Ask Yourself This Question Every Time You Make a Decision.

Building an authentic brand that can evolve with your company correlates directly to the consistent growth of your business.

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What's in a brand? The entire visual and narrative identity of your , to start. When you founded your business, you had a clear idea and plan in mind — a void in your industry to fill, a problem to solve. The very thing that drove you to go out on your own and begin anew is the very first building block in your . A brand is so much more than a and a name. It's a look, a feel and a story that will connect your target audience to your mission and values. Building an authentic brand that can evolve with your company correlates directly to the consistent growth of your business.

How do I know this? Well, when my founding partners and I started The Agency, we were frustrated with the state of the industry. As agents, we were fed up with antiquated systems, a lack of culture and camaraderie within our brokerages and an environment that pitted agents in the same office against one another. Not only was it bad for the agent, but it was bad for the buyer and seller. We decided to go our own way and build a new brokerage model that fostered a culture of partnership and collaboration. We wanted to modernize a system that was no longer working for us or our clients.

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This was the spark that ignited The Agency brand. We had our story, and we were sticking to it. We decided to go bold, visually and narratively — let the homes and lifestyles we were representing be the star of the show. We took to social media before it was integral to the real estate business. We spoke directly to the consumer and weren't shy about who we were and what we were trying to do. The Agency began with one boutique office in , growing into a network of more than 60 offices in 10 short years — and we did it all without ever sacrificing our brand identity.

No matter what industry you're in, beginning with a strong visual and narrative presence will immediately set you apart. First, put pen to paper. Much like you did in the creative process of devising your business plan, write down what you think sets your organization apart — what problem it solves; what value it will bring to your marketplace. Be selective about the words you choose to describe your goals and values.

Related: 6 Innovative Ways to Increase Brand Awareness

As for the visuals, seek the guidance of creative experts, those who bring stories to life through graphics, design and imagery. Seeing your ideas come to life in this way opens new paths of thought, expands your goals and further defines the attributes of your brand. Then, ensure your brand vision is connected across platforms, from digital to print and social media. Need inspiration? Think about the brands that you relate to — that speak to you, that have become part of your life. What sets them apart? What about them engages you emotionally?

Once your business is up and running, you'll learn much from the consumers you engage with each and every day. What inspired them to connect with your brand? What spoke directly to them, both visually and narratively? For example, when we started out, the visual of The Agency's branding matched the ideas of boldness and disruption with the bold typography and edgy not previously seen in the real estate industry. When The Agency began growing outside of the market, it was incredible to hear from fellow agents in the field what inspired them to partner with The Agency. Time and time again, they told us it was our brand. The way it made them feel. The inclusivity and collaboration that was unlike anything they'd experienced in the real estate industry. This feedback only inspired us to further evolve our brand, as it was the driving force behind our global growth.

Your brand story will continue its growth and evolution if you decide early on to never rest on your laurels. Continue to explore what resonates with your target audience, and consistently adapt to shifts in their consumer spending habits, as well as those in your industry. You can stay true to your founding vision while bringing nuance to your ever-evolving story and identifying new ways to expand your brand into markets that enhance your business network. With every business decision, ask yourself: Does this align with our brand and what we set out to do? Who you partner with, hire and align yourself with is everything. Protect your brand at all costs, and growth will happen authentically and sustainably. It's your story, and you're sticking to it.

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