Branding and marketing are strange. Kinda like that crazy uncle who always spits wisdom at the Holiday table that you don’t want to hear but know is right. One can hardly think of a holiday party without him.
In a world competing for hearts, likes, comments, and clicks, one would assume that most of us are doing branding and marketing right. If someone posts on social media, they are marketing themselves. Social media feeds are branding. Creating content is marketing. Therefore, we assume that the secret to standing out in a crowded world is to post daily.
But is it really?
A few years ago, I hired a NYT Best Selling Author mentor, John Romaniello, to help me find my writing voice, and the lesson he taught me wasn’t what I expected. He told me to find something you love and let it annoy the shit out of people.
He also helped me realize that sometimes the book you want to write isn’t the one you need to write.
Although I couldn’t recognize this while working with him as an online trainer building a six-figure coaching business, I now understand the meaning behind his not-so-subtle quote.
He didn’t tell me to post daily on social media or even hustle and grind my way into creating a brand (although sometimes that is required). Nope. He believed consistency and good storytelling across your platforms were key to success.
While social media can be a great tool, history teaches us that having a brand voice is one of the most important things entrepreneurs can do to stand out.
It’s the secret sauce to success. And because it’s not sexy, it’s something most entrepreneurs neglect.
But luckily for you, that is exactly what I will cover in today’s article.
What are Branding And Marketing Anyway?
Think of branding as composing a symphony. Just as a composer painstakingly crafts each note to evoke emotions and leave a lasting impact, entrepreneurs today must ensure their brand does the same.
A brand voice makes people feel part of something bigger than just another product or service. Many entrepreneurs often confuse marketing and branding, but they are different. While both are essential, branding is akin to the soulful melody that lingers long after the song has ended.
It takes sweat, countless tries, and elbow grease to stand out.
Look at Apple. Their magic wasn’t just in the shiny gadgets. It was their brand — the promise of simplicity, design, and a touch of rebellion against the ordinary. Every ad, product launch, and store design echoed their ethos. And as a result, left an indelible mark on the tech industry worldwide.
Most innovative brands add some sort of spin to their industry.
For example, one of the reasons Spotify blew up the way it did was the ability to master the art of curated playlists and personalized algorithms that everyone wanted to be part of.
Like a well-conducted orchestra, their marketing strategies harmonized their brand message with user experience, making their ‘performance’ resonate globally.
This is what great marketing does. So instead of asking yourself, what should I post, ask yourself, how can I find something others have done and make it feel new?
Even my writing is following this path. One of the most common things many content creators and writers like myself deal with is imposter syndrome.
Well… since I can’t compete with master brand strategists or marketers who have been around for decades, I can write in my tone and create my spin on things. Instead of purely marketing or branding, I focus on writing. Instead of trying to coach businesses, I help entrepreneurs question how they are doing something. Instead of trying to sound like everyone else, I just be myself.
Which brings me to this: if you masterfully perform the symphony (marketing) without paying attention to the composition (branding), the applause may be short-lived. Your true encore isn’t just your social media feed, but the raving fans who’ll eagerly share the magic of how your music touched their souls.
I could write all day on many different things, but many of them never see the light because I know they wouldn’t add value.
That’s why we repeat the same song or watch the same movie when we want to feel a certain type of way.
Nailing the combination of branding and marketing is difficult. It requires a lot of work behind the scenes. It requires failure. It requires feedback. It requires grit. It requires finding something you are good at and never backing down.
Because for every iconic brand campaign or magnetic marketing strategy you see go viral, countless others don’t hit the mark.
You’re not supposed to figure this all out on one video or product. And that is why most entrepreneurs skip it all together. My advice: find what works best for you and test it multiple times.
Branding and marketing are skills. In fact, just reading about it can help. So here are the not-so-fun things to do with your brand but also some of the most important things you can do to make your brand irresistible.
FOCUS ON HOW YOU WANT TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL, NOT VIRAL CONTENT
Steve Jobs didn’t just change the tech game. Many see him as one of the most groundbreaking minds of our era. But in the 90’s, Apple products were seen as outdated, and they were losing relevance in the market.
Rather than chasing the trends of the moment or trying to create a viral ad, Jobs and his team decided to tap into the power of story.
Jobs realized it wasn’t just about flashy tech, so he set out to make it his mission to evoke a feeling and emotion in those who saw the world differently.
The result? The iconic “Think Different” campaign.
Jobs spent decades of his life dedicated to storytelling. Each campaign, from the iPod to the iPhone, was presented as a narrative, addressing a human need or desire, making technology personal and relatable.
The ‘Think Different’ campaign wasn’t just selling more iPhones. It was a story celebrating those who dared to stand out and be themselves.
Jobs learned from Pixar that people buy stories, not buy products, and the campaign was a massive success. Not because it went viral in today’s sense, but because it made people feel something profound. The campaign repositioned Apple as a brand for the forward-thinkers, the innovators, the ones who dared to “think different.”
So, instead of focusing on going viral, focus on getting your audience to feel. Because emotions leave a lasting impact, far more than fleeting internet fame.
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned how you have to find something you love and annoy the shit out of people with that idea. Brands who understand this marketing concept know it’s all about relationships.
Howard Schultz is probably one of the best relationship builders in business.
He had a vision inspired by the intimate coffee culture he witnessed in Italy. Schultz believed in the power of connections – not just with the outside world but within his own team.
In a move that left many stunned, he offered employees health benefits and stock options, even those clocking in part-time. It wasn’t about ticking a corporate box. Starbucks was his vision that when folks feel appreciated and in sync with the mission, they naturally build stronger bonds with customers.
And before fancy Coffee became a thing, Starbucks stores became community hubs. The baristas knew regulars by name, preferred drinks, and often, snippets of their life stories.
Relationships turned customers into loyal patrons and advocates for the brand.
Now, you’ll gladly pay over seven dollars for a cup of Starbucks.
I think not.
Most of the internet would have you posting daily and grinding it out. But in many cases, that’s not gonna work. So, why not create relationships everywhere you go by asking better questions, listening, responding, and doing everything you can do to go out of your way?
It might not be sexy and will take you longer to build a brand, but, eventually, you’ll be glad you did.
BE LOUD, NOT ARROGANT
Perhaps the best way to grab attention is to do something unheard of. But staring at your phone, wondering what to post or how to create a video that has yet to be done before, can lead to frustration.
It can also lead to burnout and the comparison trap.
So, I say be loud but not arrogant.
Richard Branson, the man behind the Virgin Group is probably the best example for being loud. He’s famously known for those outlandish stunts and dreams as big as space itself and knows how to make a splash in the business world.
But what makes Branson’s brand magic?
It’s that mix of genuine heart and pizzazz he brings to everything. Beneath all the magic, he’s driven by a real love for shaking things up and doing business better.
When he launched Virgin Airways, he didn’t just try to blend in with the aviation bigwigs. He wanted to shake things up with playful ads and offering treats for travelers that most airlines wouldn’t dream of.
He answered a real cry for something better up in the air. And if you listen to him speal, despite all the glitz and glam, it’s clear he values feedback, cherishes his team, and believes in staying true to one’s roots.
He’s been known to personally respond to customer complaints, and stories abound of his casual visits to various Virgin enterprises where he chats openly with staff.
Why not start a conversation when you feel off inside your brand, see what others are doing, and create your own flare?
Modern society, with all its’ distractions, has made it easier to compare yourself to others.
But with the right attitude, there’s nothing stopping you from carving out your own space today. Instead of blending in with the crowd, why not create a brand that truly speaks?
Social media, when done right, can be the megaphone your brand voice needs. And remember, while it’s great to aim for the stars with your brand, always stay grounded. Listen, appreciate, and cherish those who give you the wings to soar.
FIND THE BEST IN YOUR FIELD AND STEAL FROM THEM
Pablo Picasso, is often quoted as saying, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” And I think what he meant was that you don’t want to really copy your mentors; you want to imitate the vision that they have.
Many entrepreneurs like to dream big. They’re so driven by the idea of standing out with a new product or going viral that they will let all that energy prevent them from taking action.
That means you have to be on the hunt for inspiration. Set time for yourself to get lost in books, art, videos, etc. Don’t worry about what you are doing. Just create a folder of swipe files.
I do this as an author and copywriter.
Musicians are even known for playing other songs before they expand on their own. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, find those you look up to and emulate them. Join a mastermind, or find someone with experience and do exactly what they tell you to do, then do more of that on your own.
Remember, everything comes from somewhere, and you develop your brand voice by copying someone else first, while yours grows and flourishes.
Treat Everything As A Test
E-commerce? It’s a playground for creative minds. Just think back to Amazon’s humble beginnings as a virtual bookstore.
But Jeff Bezos had a grander vision.
While outsiders saw just another internet startup, Bezos was testing the waters for what would later become the world’s most customer-centric company. Obviously, that is a diamond in the rough but just look at the world of affiliate marketing right now.
It’s blowing up.
And I think the most important thing to get from testing is what Bezos said in reference to failure: “If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”
Branding and marketing are not about perfection.
It’s about understanding that everything is an experiment with a chance to learn, adapt, and refine. By seeing your brand this way, you can remain agile and grow rather than get stuck.
Entrepreneurship, like art or any other craft, requires a delicate balance of inspiration and grit.
Whether it’s drawing from the brilliance of others, treating every venture as an experiment, or understanding the nuances between being bold and being brash — success often resides in the little things.
Need help creating a killer brand voice? Comment below or reach out so we can schedule a strategy call.