It’s not just about how you look. It’s about who you really are.

Do you think branding is all about your logo and your website? Hire someone to design a kick-ass logo and website for you, and you’re done?

Picture this. You meet someone who looks great. They’re polished and dressed well. They look as if they’ve got their shit together. They’ve got this energy about them that draws you in and makes you want to talk to them. You could be meeting them in a business situation, at a networking event or a job interview, or a social situation, for a date. You can’t wait to talk to them… 

… until they open their mouth.

It turns out they don’t have much to say, and what they do say isn’t very intelligent. They ramble, don’t pay attention to you, don’t ask questions, and constantly get off track.

Their appearance screams charismatic and smart. But their personality, well, not so much.

How could you have been so wrong?

It’s not you who was wrong; it’s them. They’re off-brand. They jumped straight to appearance and forgot about content, identity, and authenticity. They forgot about who they really are.

This is same with your company’s brand. When you jump straight to your logo and website and forget about your message—who you really are—you run the risk of being off-brand. Your clients and customers are going to pick up on that right away, and you’re going to lose them.

Branding is about so much more than your logo and your website. It’s about expressing the essence of your company in the world. Your logo and website are just two components of that. They are the visual expression of your message.

So, how do you figure out your message?

Know who you are.

Here are a few steps to get you started.

1.    What is your big why?

Why are you in business in the first place? What is your purpose for being? What makes you get up in the morning? What keeps you going when you hit road bumps?

2.    What are your values?

What do you really care about? What’s really important to you? What are your top priorities? What are some of your non-negotiables? 

3.    What is your mission?

When you put your why and your values together, what do you get? What do you really want to accomplish? What is your purpose for being in business?

4.    What is your vision?

Where do you see yourself in the future? What is your big goal? Look forward five or ten years. Where are you?

5.    What is your relationship with your customers or clients?

What can they expect from you? What are your commitments to them? What is your brand promise?

Figuring out who you are is the difficult part. Miguel de Cervantes wrote, “Make it thy business to know thyself, which is the most difficult lesson in the world.” Designing a logo and a website are the easy part, that’s why we tend to jump straight to those. But when we skip knowing ourselves, the logo and website become virtually worthless.

Like the example of the well-dressed person, we run the risk of shocking our customers and clients about who we really are—and scaring them off.

Take the time to know who you really are before creating your logo and website. Craft your message. Thisis the expression of who you are. Your logo and website are just two tools for doing that.

Kelly Smith