HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE AND BUSINESS BE DIFFERENT IF YOU COULD MULTIPLY YOUR SALES AND INCREASE YOUR PRICES IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS
Discover the secret branding experts don’t want you to know.
More than 4 years of research, 34 entrepreneurs interviewed, $30,000 invested, hundreds of enemies made along the way, 1 attempted lynching, barred from the lucrative circle of ‘experts’… All this just to be able to share the best kept secrets of the branding world with you, secrets that will enable you to build your brand for much less money than you think.
Targeted Age Group:: 20-55
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to help small business and entrepreneurs to create their brands with very little money.
1.1. The idea.
The idea behind writing this book came to me in 2012 when, during one of my MBA classes at the University of Alicante, Fernando Olivares, professor of Business Image and Identity, was explaining the various branding strategies employed by businesses and how some of these strategies were generally reserved for companies with an annual turnover of $40m or more.
Forty millions! Were all of the students sitting in that hall with me really aspiring to – or able to – manage a business of such proportions? It was even more absurd given that, with the economic status we all found ourselves in at the time, it would be enough of a miracle if those self-same businesses employed us as cashiers, shelf stackers or interns.
My own personal reason for studying the MBA was to arm myself with all of the tools necessary to realize my own projects (which were and are numerous and varied), with the aim of increasing their chances of success.
Did Fernando mean that managing our own identities would have to be left till later? That us entrepreneurs needn’t worry about the image projected by our company at first, or that branding was only something for big business?
Of course not! And I knew as much. From the moment I began my journey as an entrepreneur back in 2004, I have come across a variety of tools and learned numerous strategies that aren’t taught on any MBA – for many reasons that I won’t go into here, as they would take up a whole other book – which allow any entrepreneur to create a great brand regardless of their annual turnover.
Based on my own personal experiences, I decided to carry out some research, which lasted for over 4 years and which I currently still add to and update, with the aim of discovering new and/or better ways to manage each and every aspect of building a great brand at a low, low price, if not for free.
I hope that everything I have discovered during my research, and which is captured here in this book, is as fascinating for you as it has been for me. I hope it spurs you on and above all, helps you to create a powerful brand that takes you a few steps closer to realizing your business dreams.
1.2. The research.
To give you a bit of background and show you how I went about performing this research, which led me to discover how to create a low cost brand, I’d like to explain the 4 steps that made up the process:
A. Reviewing books.
B. Interviewing entrepreneurs.
C. Attending events about branding.
D. Google searches.
A. Reviewing books.
The first step in my research was to find out if there were already any books dealing with the topic I wanted to address.
However, all of the books I found on branding were purely theoretical, written only with big business in mind (even when their titles suggested otherwise) and aimed at either students of the subject or branding professionals.
In my opinion one of the reasons for this is the lack of importance which, until now, has been attached to brand management in terms of the global success of a business, and because branding has generally been a subject dealt with only in university circles.
The boom of entrepreneurship, the ease of creating a startup thanks to the Internet, and the endless technological tools available to us make it necessary – now more than ever – for brands to stand out ahead of their competitors.
In this context, creating a powerful brand becomes a necessity for entrepreneurs, independent professionals and SMEs.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of branding, delve into its terminology, or discover new theories proposed by self-proclaimed “branding gurus”, you will easily find 100s of books on the subject. However, if you’re a business person or entrepreneur and what really interests you is creating your brand without investing vast sums of money, then this is the book for you.
B. Interviewing entrepreneurs.
The next step was to search for businesses and entrepreneurs who fulfilled one sole requirement: having created a recognized brand on limited economic resources.
When it came to choosing my interviewees, I searched among the winners and participants of various competitions for young entrepreneurs organized and held on an international scale over previous years.
Once I’d chosen them, I would get in touch to explain my project and request a face to face interview, or via video conference, and most of them were happy to oblige.
I have to admit that I really enjoyed these interviews and I met some wonderful people with whom, surprisingly, I had more in common than many of my lifelong friends.
As I completed the interviews, I realized that although each interviewee posed themselves as “low cost”, that wasn’t always strictly the truth. In fact less than 10% of the entrepreneurs I interviewed met the requirements I had set out, while the rest in reality had considerably more equity at their disposal: some because they were from a rich family, others because they already owned other businesses, others still because they had sought external investment. None of this diminishes their merit in the slightest, but they were sadly no longer useful to my research as they didn’t fit in with the type of entrepreneur – the profile – that I was looking for. Given they had sufficient money to back them, why would they waste time searching for low cost strategies and tools? To illustrate with a couple examples: one of these “entrepreneurs” had spent more on the design of his logo ($2,000), and another on registering his brand ($1,000) than I propose to spend on the entire branding strategy, including, among other things, logo design and trademark registration.
Although I was able to take away more or less valuable lessons from each company interviewed, I saw with my own eyes that the businesses that had strong financial backing did things very differently from those whose budget was closer to $0. The latter are the ones that, without a doubt, afforded me the most relevant information with which to craft my book.
During the course of these interviews, I discovered a strange thing that helped me understand why nobody had written this book until now. Among those entrepreneurs that had created their brand using very limited resources, there were very few willing to disclose their “secrets”, attributing much of their success to these.
An example of this is outlined below, and came up in the first interview I carried out:
– No way, not without a confidentiality agreement. I would be grateful if you would abstain from recording the interview. I’m sure we’re not the only ones to request as much.
– In fact – I replied – my colleagues have met with the Head of Communications from companies such as BBVA and Inditex, and they had no such issues.
– Of course not, such large companies have no issue with sharing how they do what they do, because no one can afford to copy them and compete with them. But our know-how is our most valued resource, and we have no plans to share it – he concluded –
C. Attending events on branding.
The third step in my research was aimed at amassing the largest number of useful tools mentioned at any events or training activities on branding.
During the course of my investigations I became virtually addicted to these types of event and I attended every course, workshop, conference, etc. on branding, as well as other related topics, that I could find, and which I deemed enriching for my research and book.
As with the interviews of entrepreneurs, I genuinely enjoyed these events, meeting incredible people and forging solid friendships, sharing my concerns and being made to feel slightly more normal in a world which, until this point, seemed to be completely up against me. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re frustrated that your family and friends don’t see things your way, and think that you’re a bit weird, then you’ll take to such events like a duck to water.
Unfortunately, I would have to say this was the main benefit of attending so many of these events, because even though you come away from some of them with a few tools or strategies to help you manage your brand more efficiently, many of them (especially the free ones) have an entirely different agenda.
I was to discover that such events are used by branding agencies and professionals as an excellent means of acquiring new clients. Which in principle is fine, if it weren’t for the fact that to gain as many new clients as possible, it’s vital to ensure the attendees don’t learn too much, or anything at all, during the event itself. The most common formula is to present some strategies, actions or tasks required to create a successful brand (SEO, social media etc.) in such a complicated, technical way that you arrive at the logical conclusion that the best thing to do would be to contract the services of a professional instead of doing things for yourself!
I’m not criticizing the recommendation that certain things are best left to the experts. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Good brand management does not require you to learn to do everything yourself, not even close. What I’m criticizing here is that, if the idea behind these events isn’t to teach something, they shouldn’t be presented as training sessions where you can “learn to…”, “find out all you need to know about…” and other common ways of describing the supposed benefits of attending such activities.
Although this seemed pretty obvious to me by that point, I decided to check one final time. To this end, I got in touch with the organizers of a few conferences (both free and paying), offering myself as an expert speaker on branding and indicating that I was in the process of finalizing my book on the very subject. All of the organizers welcomed my proposal with open arms – at least to begin with. Unfortunately, further down the line when I hinted I would comment on and analyze the tools I’ll be teaching you to use in this book, I was quickly, and fairly rudely, ruled out as a speaker.
The phrase used by one of the organizers to justify his rejection of my participation only serves to confirm my theory about the aims of many of these training events: “We’re not going to just let you go out there and shoot us in the foot”.
D. Google searches.
As you already know, Google is the most well known, most frequently used search engine in the world. That’s why the 4th step in my research was to exploit Mr. Google to ensure I was leaving no stone unturned.
With time to spend, and knowing where and how to search, Google can provide you with various strategies, tricks and tools which will help you manage your brand in a much more efficient way.
If that wasn’t enough, in my particular case Google proved to be not only an excellent means of discovering tricks and tools which would never make it through the selection process at branding events or a publishing company’s strict criteria, but also helped me to discover that (thanks to Google Alerts) a group of designers and programmers were getting organized to, and I quote, “FIND AND LYNCH ME”.
Turns out that, as I’ve already said, not everyone is happy about me spilling the secrets that I’m sharing in this book.
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