The lessons from this article were derived from this interview between Dave Gerhardt and from Grow and Convert and Alex Lieberman’s interview with Rishad Tobaccowalla.
Brand is not a design. It’s reputation.
When most people hear brand, they think of colors, logos, websites, and design.
But brand is your reputation. It’s your personality.
Brand is creating relationships with potential customers in a way that goes beyond your product. Beyond a transactional relationship.
Brand is people listening to your podcast, watching your videos, and wearing your merch — even though they’re not in the market to buy your product right now.
How to build your brand
The number 1 way to build a brand today is to think of your company as a media company.
Give people a reason to follow your stuff beyond the transaction of your product or service.
Then collect their emails and continue to communicate and build a relationship.
Dave Gerhardt has built his brands through podcasts. He loves it, not because you can reach millions of people through a podcast, but because you can turn video calls and interviews into so many different pieces of content.
Short videos on YouTube, articles on Medium, audiograms on Instagram, Apple podcasts, etc.
Existing skills + untapped opportunities = success
Look in your market and see what the potential opportunities are.
Has anyone in your field:
- Launched a podcast?
- Built a YouTube channel?
- Published a book or magazine?
- Run a blog or newsletter?
- Built a dominant SEO presence?
- Used ads? Which platforms? FB, LI, IG, YT, TikTok, Google?
- Worked with influencers?
Find the places that no one is investing in that align with your existing skills.
Dollar Shave Club competed with Gillette by being quirky and creating great, funny video content.
But they were able to execute on that because the founder had a video background.
What is the one thing you can do that no one else is doing?
If you’re a great writer, start a newsletter. If you’re a great interviewer, start a podcast.
Find the gaps and then match the gaps with something you’re good at.
Stop making excuses on why you can’t build a brand
“I’m a B2B company. I can’t advertise like a B2C company.”
Not every B2B company has to be Salesforce and ServiceNow.
Everyone is a consumer.
People are having these amazing experiences where they buy something from a consumer company and it’s a fun experience. They send a great welcome email and there is a great unboxing experience.
Then you buy B2B software and it’s terrible.
The opportunity is to appeal to how people are already interacting with brands.
Why can’t your B2B company feel like Nike or Lululemon?
“Brand is too hard to quantify. How can you tell if it’s working?”
You just know. People are proud to work at the company, they want to share your stuff, they wear the tshirts. It’s a feeling.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR COMPANY’S NARRATIVE
Here are some frameworks you can use.
1. You can pitch yourself against an enemy.
Like how Drift did with forms or Hey.com (or Slack) did with email. Or how Benji Hyam and Devesh Khanal from Grow and Convert pitched themselves against content agencies that don’t focus on real results.
- Us vs. them (a specific competitor or a general process)
- The old way vs. the new way
2. You can also say that you are X for Y.
- Drift was the marketing tool for sales and marketing teams.
- Privy is the sales tool for Shopify users.
Your differentiator should NOT be a feature.
Even if you build the best product, no one would believe that early on.
And even if your product is 10x better at the time, people will be able to copy features and it won’t remain that way for long.