Whether you are a well-established business or an up-and-coming startup, one of your most valuable assets is your brand. Hopefully that is not news to you. (If it is, contact me immediately!) But let’s pause to really think about that simple statement for a moment:
- Does your brand stand out?
- Does your market truly understand it?
- Are you continually developing your brand?
Just like your car, cell phone or family pet, if you take good care of your brand, it will give you a lot of love in return.
With the right strategies and programs in place, your brand will grow in strength and clarity, and ultimately deliver a measurable increase in business results. That takes discipline, focus and a healthy dose of consistency, but the rewards your brand will reap are relevance, distinction and, ultimately, being the preferred choice.
Branding in the real-world: A look at the blockchain
Let me give you a current example of why brand differentiation is so important: the Bitcoin and blockchain industry. Bitcoin is perhaps the best known cryptocurrency (or digital currency). All Bitcoin-based transactions – yes, ALL of them since its beginning in 2009 – are recorded in a public ledger, known as the “blockchain,” chronologically chaining together all the details of each block of transactions. When you transact in Bitcoin, you also download or access the ever-growing blockchain, so it’s completely transparent, perhaps even overwhelming.
Thus, imagine the enormous potential for Bitcoin and blockchain-related services. Hundreds of companies have flooded this arena – from fintech startups to major financial firms – to provide solutions for exchange, trading, brokerage, payment, compliance, banking, etc., spanning retail and commercial uses. Take a look at this infographic from William Mougayar, a venture advisor, author and blockchain industry expert. His latest update of the Global Landscape of Blockchain Companies includes 268 companies, most of which are startups.
Global Blockchain Landscape. Source: startupmanagement.org, 08 Dec 2015
Looks pretty crowded, right?! Each of these companies should be asking what they can do to ensure their brand stands out. Competition is tight, the blockchain industry is moving fast, and the technology is evolving rapidly. Even within the niche categories, it is critical for a brand to achieve differentiation, establish its position quickly and build a base to grow from.
Let’s Start with the Basics: Brand Identity
Whether you are in the blockchain ecosystem or any other industry, the starting point is your brand identity. Before going to market, you need a strong platform to stand on. Think strategically about the role your brand can play, the audience you are trying to reach and the competitors you are up against. THEN – and only then – start thinking about building your brand identity.
As many people will tell you, your brand is not just your name and your logo. Although important and highly visible, those elements must stand for something meaningful to your audience. First, understand and define your attributes, why you are useful to your customers, how you can connect with them and the difference you can make. Then, develop your identity accordingly with visual and verbal elements to create an overall “look-and-feel,” including:
- Visual design (colors, fonts, imagery and layouts or templates)
- Verbal style and “tone-of-voice” (how you sound to your audience)
Brand Messaging & Positioning
An equally important part of your brand identity is its messaging and positioning. Your audience needs to hear something from you that is important to them and makes them pay attention. How you can make their work or lives better? How are you different from your competitors? Having a set of consistent messages will help build a deeper understanding with your audience, increase your relevance and ultimately earn respect.
With a sharp brand identity, clear messaging and a compelling story in place, you can then maximize your “eyeshare” and “earshare” (how much people can see and hear about you) with an integrated marketing communications and public relations strategy. Careful planning and solid execution can make all the difference, but above all, remember to apply your branding and messaging to everything you do with consistency. I repeat: consistency. Doing so will help your brand earn the respect it deserves and stand high above the crowd, even if that crowd is the blockchain.
What do you think?
Let me know what you think by commenting below. And if you like what you have read, consider donating to a charity accepting bitcoins. Learn more about bitcoin donations and tax deductions in this Forbes article.
Tags: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Branding, Fintech