Whether this is your first startup or your fourth venture, chances are you're prone to thinking one of two ways most of the time: a business mindset puts money at the center. Meanwhile a brand mindset puts the customer at the center. Guess which one proves to be more successful?
There are people who think primarily with a business mindset, and to them, there's nothing more important than making money - lots of it - as fast as possible. Sometimes instead of saying "money" we use words like scale, conversions, traction, adoption, etc. but they're all essentially the same thing.
And then there are the dreamers... the passionate entrepreneurs who want to build something full of meaning. Something that doesn't just scale and make money, but leaves a lasting impression on their customers, improves people's lives and possibly changes the world.
Which one are you?
No, you don't have to pick between one or the other, but you do need to find the right balance between them. The dreamer who never thinks about money is certainly likely to fail, but the money-obsessed business man/woman who neglects the needs of her customers is likely to fail even faster.
In this video, we talk about the three reasons I believe it's much more interesting, profitable and significant to build a brand, not just a business.
Reason #1: A great brand inspires customers, which in turn, is great for business. It doesn't work the other way around.
When you look at each customer and see nothing more than a dollar sign, you're pretty much ensuring that they never want to set foot in your store or use your service again.
But when you work hard to take care of, and exceed your customers' expectations - not just for the sake of profit but for the sake of being a good human and inspiring people - well, it turns out that's really good for business.
When you approach your customer relationships from a place of generosity, respect and integrity, you turn them into diehard fans who talk about you every chance they get. That's better marketing than any amount of money can buy.
Reason #2: A great brand is less vulnerable to competition.
If your relationship with customers is purely transactional - they pay you money and you deliver them a product, nothing more - then the minute someone puts a better or cheaper product on the market, your customers are jumping ship.
But if you focus on making them feel something, and feel it consistently and strongly whenever they interact with your brand, you'll win their loyalty and business. Are you clear on the feelings you want to invoke in your customers? Maybe you want them to feel cool and cutting edge if you're a tech or apparel company? Or beautiful and pampered if you're a beauty brand? Or smart and truly impactful if you're a nonprofit? Whatever the feeling is, work on enhancing it through every interaction they have with your brand, and you'll naturally win their business and along with it, their loyalty and love.
Consider this finding from Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman on emotional decision-making:
We make 95% of our purchasing decisions subconsciously, based on how we feel, and then we back them up with logic.
Just think of the last time you went shopping for an evening dress...a car or even a house. You saw that perfect item and completely fell in love with...
... how cheap it was compared to the competition?
You saw that perfect dress or that amazing car or the perfect house on a tree-lined street and fell in love with how it made you feel. Or more accurately, the kind of person it would make you into.
You made that purchase in your mind the minute you tried it on or walked inside. You justified it as you were handing over your credit card or signing the papers by saying something like "I don't have a dress in this color yet, or we'll give up our family vacations so we can live here."
A founder who thinks with a brand mindset understands this thought process and gets that emotions play a major role in how your customers make decisions about whether or not to buy from you. If you build a brand that connects on an emotional level, you'll be light years ahead of the same businesses in your industry who simply tried to make money.
Ok, last but not at all least, reason #3. (It's actually my favorite one.)
Reason #3: Building a brand is A LOT more fun than running a business.
Man oh man, I say this with so much conviction. If you want to create something you're dragging your feet to every morning, something that eventually feels like a burden and brings you little to no joy, then start a transactional business.
If you want to wake up every morning with a sense of purpose, pride and belief in the importance of what you're building on this earth, then start a brand. Because a brand is all about building human relationships, and at the end of the day, what else can be more important or more fulfilling?
No money in the world could ever replace the joy you feel from having changed someone's week, put a smile on their face or improved the state of our planet.. whether it's through a non-profit or a for-profit.
Go out there and create a brand worth believing in.
Go build it with integrity, compassion and excellence. We will all cheer you on, because Lord knows, the world needs more companies like that.
Companies that are courageous enough to insist on integrity, bold enough to tell the inconvenient truth for the sake of full transparency, and compassionate enough to put their own profits on the back burner at times to make this world a better place.
Money is transient. Purpose is eternal. Go build a brand with purpose.