Brand: It is not all about you
Your brand started with you, your name and your story but cannot end up being only about you. So often founders get blinded by the spotlight and it ends up causing their downfall. You need to eliminate the glare so you can see clearly the message your company is presenting. Self-promotion is good when you are doing it for the right reason. It is always bad (and should never be done) when it is shameless self-promotion.
You are and always will be an important piece of the brand and you do need to lead the brand strategy. Do not get me wrong, your story and why you started the company is important and is fundamental to attracting others to the company and what you are selling. It must be compelling and true. Your vision and mission set the foundation and tone for your company, message and vibe. You took the time to create the brand, make sure it is solid and will stand the test of time. There is more to the story than just you. Over time you need to shift the focus away from you and towards a broader image that the masses will embrace. Your on-going story should include problems your company can solve for others, show how your company is different from others and highlight customers.
The brand your company stands for must resonate not just with you but also your team, your advisors, and your customers. Be thoughtful in every aspect of your company appearance; from the company name, to the colors you use, to the logo, the graphics and of course, the words you use. All of it sends a message and reinforces the brand. Your tribe is the walking and talking billboard of the company message. You want all of them to wear your brand like a badge of honor; team colors are their uniform. You can use swag with the company logo as a visual conveyor. You can never predict where your company name and logo will be seen (and hopefully remembered) so you need to consider who will be looking at and interpreting your message. Ask yourself, “is my brand attracting the people I want to see the message, and will they be attracted to the company’s products or services as a result?”.
The more your company is out there through social media, events, and your team, the bigger and more successful your company will appear, and as momentum builds so will your company. Remember your current customer base is and will always be important. Hold them near and dear. It is, however, difficult to continually grow if you have to keep going back to your original customers. Create a plan to expand and recruit potential new customers who currently know nothing about you. Most likely you will need to occasionally tweak your brand while keeping your message consistent in order to do this. You never want your followers to question what you are doing. You must keep their loyalty. One way to do this is to reach out to them to ask them to help you evolve your brand. Engagement re-enforces loyalty and allows you to see things through their eyes.
In the end, no matter how or when you exit your business, it would be nice to have your brand live on without you and after you. You worked hard to create your legacy, work just as hard to make it last.