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One of my favorite sources of relevant business information is the American Express OPEN Forum.

Below is an article on branding authored by Mike Michalowicz, founder and owner of Profit First Professionals, an assembly of the most elite accountants, bookkeepers and business coaches in the world.

Here are seven ways that may help you to do it right.


1. Identify and clarify your company’s purpose.

It can be critical that every single member of your organization understands what greater purpose you hope to achieve. Look at Nike’s tagline, “Just Do It.” It sums up a cause much bigger than simply selling athletic shoes. It’s about a vibrant, engaged lifestyle. That’s brand building. Unless you have clarity of purpose, you probably won’t be able to build a coherent brand.

2. Get your employees involved.

Your brand is a whole lot more than pretty pictures and flowery words. Your brand is about working toward your company’s purpose, and that purpose can’t be dictated. It must be adopted. Ideally, you should try to hire employees who understand and share your passion for your cause. Consider making part of your interview process about identifying staff who will work toward your goal, who will support and build your brand.

3. Have a rallying cry.

I discuss how important a rallying cry can be in my new book, Surge. Try to make your cry unique, concise and powerful—the thing that unites every single person in your company and reminds them of your purpose. It’s basically the elevator pitch of your business.

4. Get your customers to amplify your brand.

In addition to providing excellent service, you should try to articulate your purpose to your customers. When you fold your cause into everything you do, you’re creating something bigger than just the goods or services you’re selling. Think about the Life is Good brand. When customers buy a t-shirt, they’re not just wearing a cool shirt; they’re promoting a brand, a mission, a vision. Consider how you can give your customers a way to participate in building and promoting your brand.

5. Speak in your own tonality.

You can say the exact same thing in hundreds of different ways. What branding can do is convey your company’s purpose in an authentic and unique way—a way that reflects who you are. Take my company’s purpose: to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. We take our business seriously, and we work hard, but we also believe that profit can be radically fun. Our mantra reflects our revolutionary and playful approach to business. Find your voice and use it.

6. Get the experts involved.

You want complete consistency in your message. You want every contact your customers have with your company to convey the same resolute purpose. Whether it’s in person, on your website, your logo, your phone presence—all these elements must have a cohesive feel and a strong, consistent message. That sort of branding is hard, hard work. Consider hiring a professional, someone who will make your brand look integrated and effortless. You may need an expert for truly excellent branding.

7. Don’t try to attract everyone.

A strong brand can speak to a niche—a specific customer. A strong brand may not care about the people who aren’t in their customer set. Think about Harley Davidson. That’s a strong brand which knows precisely who its customers are, and doesn’t seem to waste energy trying to appeal to, say, Prius customers. Prius takes care of Prius customers. Know your customers and find a bold and distinct way to speak to them.

Which of the seven resonate with you?  Which one will you focus on during the next 30 days?