The Founder/CEO as the Brand 

Your unique value proposition must capture who you are.

Every business starts with an entrepreneurial founder developing a solution for a problem either they have, or they have seen others experiencing. Some, like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and others, perceive a need for their idea before the rest of us realize we have one.

In either case, the founder works diligently to bring his or her solution to market, and often embodies the solution as the company brand. For example, Ralph Lauren is Polo and Polo is Ralph Lauren, Amazon is Bezos, Starbuck’s is Schultz, Musk is Tesla, and on and on with others like them. Their cultural DNA morphs into the brand they have created.

Company cultures are organisms that reflect their leaders, their technology, their environments, and their strengths. Companies are like people. They have their own DNA that is reflected in their culture.

Steve Jobs, as the creator of Apple, developed products to improve people’s lives. His cultural DNA created devices that were well designed, the epitome of “cool” in appearance, and easy to use. This is the essence of branding strategy – the expression of your company culture and products with the sole purpose of igniting an emotional reaction with consumers.

As the founder of your business, your greatest challenge is developing a unique value proposition that appeals to both the rational and emotional sides of the mind of the customer. Your unique value proposition has to capture who you are as a company and why you matter to your customers in a compelling way.

Many founders of small businesses are typically so busy just keeping their business going that they do not realize how important these marketing aspects can be to the future growth and profitability of their company.

You cannot be all things to all consumers. You have to determine which customer types have the greatest propensity to buy and use the products or solutions you have developed with your company’s core technology. What is it about what you have to offer in the way that you offer it that is your basic competitive advantage? That which sets you apart from your competitors.

It’s your “Unique value proposition.”

Your brand has to appeal to a specific set of customer types that have a unique need or preference for what your company does.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • What is the single most palpable quality that makes your brand stand out from your competition?
  • What is the key benefit your brand offers to your most important customers and why do you remain relevant to them?
  • What is your unique value proposition? The single most important word or phrase that captures the essence of what your brand stands for?

About the Author: Bob Donnelly is an author, educator, and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His latest book is: The Definitive Guide to Brand Building.

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