The goal isn’t just to build your business and grow your brand. It’s also to own your genius! Nowadays, anyone can start a business and create a brand; however, only a few go the extra mile to build an empire strong enough to outlive them. Think Walt Disney of Disney, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-a. Below we will discuss the five steps to build a brand that can stand the test of time.
The first step in building a solid brand is standing out from your competitors. In a market where everyone is doing the same thing, it is your responsibility as a business owner to research and find the gaps.
Keep in mind the gap includes your business model, processes, mission, and values. Just because you may offer the same product or service as others in your market doesn’t mean the way you do it has to be the same. Use your education, experience, talents, and quirks to create your unique stance in the market and separate yourself from the crowd. For example, Chick-fil-a serves a mean chicken sandwich and is also known for its customer service, which is often lacking in the fast-food industry, and its brand values.
2. Identify your Intellectual Property
Your innovation is valuable. It helps you stand apart from your competitors, making it easier for consumers to spend money with you. It’s your responsibility to protect your innovation. The next step in building a solid brand is identifying the intellectual property your innovation creates and take the proper steps to protect it. Whether it’s a trademark for your unique brand name, a copyright for your original content, or a patent for your new and useful invention, correctly identifying your intellectual property is essential to protecting your innovation. Knowing what is what can help you develop a plan for protection that includes registration and how to use each asset to maximize profits. Take Disney, rather than stop at movies, the company maximizes its assets by creating books, clothing, toys, and theme park rides based on that one asset.
Now that your assets are correctly identified and you have taken the necessary steps to protect them, the third step in building a solid brand is keeping people off your stuff. Companies like Disney, Apple, and Starbucks monitor the unauthorized use of their intellectual property regularly. Two myths prevent smaller businesses from doing the same.
1. They believe monitoring the use of your intellectual property is reserved for big corporations and
2. They believe enforcing their rights makes them a bully.
Neither of these is true. Monitoring your intellectual property for unauthorized use and enforcing your rights is the price of being in business. Telling someone not to use the assets you spent time and money to create is a necessary step in building a solid brand. The alternative is losing your position in the market because you’re no longer a commodity.
You’re monitoring your intellectual property for unauthorized uses by strangers, but what about with people you know? When you enter into a business relationship, there must be a mutual understanding about who owns the intellectual property and how it can/can’t be used. A written agreement will make sure all parties are on the same page as it relates to the intellectual property and can be used in court if the other party has a memory lapse. There is no room for assumptions in business. In episode 85 of the Own Your Genius podcast, I shared a story of a bakery forced to rebrand after investing over $300,000 in marketing because they assumed they owned the intellectual property they paid to create. That said, it’s not enough to have written contracts, you have to read them too. If you’re not going to read it, hire an attorney to read it for you.
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The fifth step in creating a solid brand is to rinse and repeat. Keep innovating, keep identifying your intellectual property, keep enforcing your rights, and keep using contracts. Apple didn’t become the mega-brand it is because they created a dope computer. They created other tech products and built an ecosystem around that ish. Amazon started as a bookstore; now, they make original movies and deliver groceries to your front door. Once you developed the blueprint, use it to continue building your empire.
What’s the one thing you can do today to help you build a stronger brand? Comment below.