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When it comes to building a brand, authenticity is the name of the game. It takes more than an aesthetically pleasing website and some witty social media captions to win the trust and approval of your target audience. As I cover in my new book, The Dealmaker, do you want to be an innovator or an imitator?
Telling an authentic story about why your brand exists and what value it provides to clients will foster genuine connections with your audience. At The Agency, we are all about authenticity and projecting that through to our clients and everyone we work with. When clients know who you are and what you stand for, they’re more likely to want to do business with you and refer others to your services.
If you’re ready to build a brand that genuinely resonates with your clients, here are five tips to get you started:
Figure out what you’re all about
It’s impossible to build an authentic brand if you can’t answer one simple question: why does your business exist? If you don’t know what sets you apart from your competitors, then your clients won’t either.
Start by establishing your core values. At our brokerage, we have 10 rules we live by. These values (or rules in our case) are the foundation of your brand and will inform all your marketing decisions. Knowing your principles helps you communicate your character in an authentic way and build trust with your audience.
Write a mission statement
Now that you’ve identified your core values (your why) it’s time to write your mission statement, or what you’re trying to achieve. In one to three sentences, explain what you aim to provide for your clients.
In addition to coming up with a mission statement, you should develop a 30-second speech that tells the story of your brand in a concise and clear way. Reference your values and choose your words carefully, conveying only what your audience needs to know about you. Think of this as the elevator pitch for your business and make sure it’s present in all of your marketing materials.
Identify your audience
Brands risk coming across as inauthentic (or just plain forgettable) when they try to win over everyone. Instead of trying to please the masses, identify your target audience and focus on how you can provide value to them. Even the strongest brand messaging will fall flat if you aren’t speaking to the right people.
Once you know what audience you are trying to reach, conduct research to learn more about them. You should have a robust understanding of what matters most to your clients and what problems they are trying to solve. Knowing your audience will help you authentically develop every aspect of your branding, from the tone of your website copy to what social media platforms you use.
Create brand guidelines
Knowing what your business stands for and who it serves are the most fundamental aspects of building a brand. Once you have those basics figured out, put your brand guidelines in writing. This will ensure that your voice stays consistent and authentic across all channels from your website to your email marketing campaigns. It’s also a helpful training tool when you bring new agents onto your team.
In addition to touching upon your company values and mission, a brand guide should establish the tone of voice used in marketing materials. Start by selecting a few adjectives that describe your brand’s voice. Some examples are playful, authoritative, caring, and straightforward.
When it comes to your brand’s visual identity, select a color palette and fonts that represent your business. We love to be bold at The Agency, so we chose to embrace the color red. If you want your brand to come across as playful and casual, for example, that will require a different aesthetic than a brand that is going for crisp and professional.
Walk the walk
Your brand story won’t feel authentic to your audience unless you live by the core values you preach. For example, if you’re always talking about stellar customer service but then leave client reviews unanswered, customers will draw the conclusion that your brand is inauthentic and therefore untrustworthy. Make sure that all of your actions reflect your values and your brand story.
Everyone who works for you — from agents to temps — is a living representation of your company. Empower employees to be brand ambassadors through proper training that emphasizes all of the above aspects of your brand. When you prove to clients that they can expect quality service from everyone they interact with at your firm, they’ll reward you with their loyalty.
Authenticity builds trust
An authentic brand is consistent and transparent. In order for your business to earn a reputation for being reliable, you must know what you stand for and have a genuine interest in providing value to your clients. There are plenty of businesses out there with catchy slogans, but unless you live by your brand values, your marketing materials will come across as insincere.
Committing to building an authentic brand will pay off in the long run as it fosters genuine connections with your audience. Taking the time to curate a brand that’s authentic to you will result in a loyal client base — and your profit margins will thank you for this.
Mauricio Umansky is the founder and CEO of The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.