When you have branded yourself a certain way, there are places you can’t go, and things you can’t do. Not that they are illegal, or immoral; but because they are contradictory to your brand. As a business owner, your brand is a factor of future success. Without proper branding, you can only expect to have limited success- if that.
Simply defined, branding is labeling. Breitling Watches is a watch manufacturer, Breitling is a high-end luxury timepiece. William Wilson Clothing is a clothing manufacturer. William Wilson is an exclusive custom clothing brand. Get it? Branding is the foundation of how you are known as a business, or a person.
What is your brand? By industry standards, William Wilson is defined as “an ultra- premium luxury brand”. That’s easy to write. But I also have to live my brand. As a CEO, especially with my name on the company, I am never off work. Everything I do, everywhere I go, everything I say, and even the media I allow myself to be in, reflect on my brand, both corporately and personally. Therefore, they are tied to my success. The mistake many small business owners make is believing that people do business with them because of their product. Rarely is your product, or business, as important to others as it is to you. People do business with people, not companies. Who you are as a person, has everything to do with how you are seen as a brand.
It is also important to connect yourself to people that reflect, or protect, your brand. I have suffered business disappointments, and put the integrity of my brand at risk, by attaching myself to firms that either didn’t understand the William Wilson brand, or just couldn’t provide the service they offered, to a brand like mine. I ended up with people that were more concerned with self promotion, being in the spotlight, and looking to promote big stars than they were in handling my business properly. I severed those ties, not because I didn’t like those people personally, I did and still do. But I have to think of the way my brand is represented. If your brand is at risk, your success is at risk.
Now I will concede, to many people I may appear obsessive about my brand. That is correct. A lot rides on my success; and not just for me. As my brand grows, so do the brands of the people on my team. As my brand grows, I can help others with their education and their careers. As my brand grows, I become more and more of a role model to children and adults alike. As my brand grows, I can help raise more money for non-profit organizations. So you see, the importance of my brand integrity is crucial not only to my success, but to people I don’t even know. Who knows, you can be someone reading this blog right now that I don’t know, but you may look up to me. I have a responsibility to you.
So here are some things I do that protect my brand:
1. I keep it clean. I don’t curse, belittle others, or otherwise poorly represent myself, or my brand, on my tweets, blogs, Facebook posts, and in public venues. (FYI- If you re-tweet other people’s garbage, you may as well have said it yourself. Spreading garbage is speaking garbage)
2. Take time for everyone. I’m always mindful to acknowledge everyone that approaches me, whether they email me, or want to take a picture with me. Even on social media, if you comment on my Facebook wall, I reply. I may only be able to say thank you, but if you take time out of your busy day to reach out to me, the least I can do, in return, is respond.
3. Choose events wisely. I don’t go to events that start after 10PM unless I know what they are about. (FYI- No “Networking event” starts at 10 with drink specials. Those are called parties.)
4. Don’t fall for gimmick marketing. I don’t go to ANYTHING if it has the description “Grown and Sexy” in it. (My experience is 9 times out of 10, they are neither.)
5. Know when to go home. I rarely spend more than an hour at an event. I get in, take pictures, do my business, and leave. Being in the event when the lights come on is like going to a strip club in the daytime. It’s not illegal, it’s just sad and pathetic)
6. And on that note. I don’t go to strip clubs, nor do I sell to strip club owners. ( I just don’t see the point in the first part. As for the second, I speak to and support organizations that empower and help rebuild women’s self esteem and value. It would be hypocritical to turn around and sell clothing to individuals that make their money doing the opposite. If that offends you- you are welcome to purchase your clothing from ANYONE else. In fact I encourage it. Not all money is good money.)
7. I don’t drink. I have never had alcohol in my life, so it’s not like I stopped for the sake of my branding, so I can’t accept credit for this. I don’t think drinking is bad. But a drunk in public is a sad and pitiful sight. (And ladies, it’s even worse when we see you sloppy or “tipsy”. It’s neither cute nor lady-like! I’m just saying.) Not to mention the pictures, or repercussions that result from them can be catastrophic.
8. I support the community. I leverage the value of the William Wilson brand to bring credibility, and funds, to events that may otherwise not have happened. Though my brand is still in it’s infancy, I do what I can, to help who I can, do what they dream.
9. I connect with like-minded people. There are 3 people that I have grown to love like brothers; Ryan Stone, Bill Wiley and Leonard Wheeler. Bill is a spiritual rock. He is transparent, vulnerable and genuine which is a sign of a man who has true inner strength. He’s genuine and always has a good word, and it comes from a place of love and care. My relationship with Ryan started off as business and turned into a true friendship. His honesty, business acumen, and commitment to transparency allows me to say something that I don’t often say, but I completely trust him. My partnership with Jetpool (Ryan is the CEO) has played a major role in the remarkable branding success of William Wilson Clothing. Being with people that think like you, or even more advanced is how you grow and learn. And how you open other doors to success.
10. I got a mentor. No one has all the answers; and we have to be accountable to someone. The rapid success of my company often places me in positions in which I am unfamiliar. I asked my friend Leonard Wheeler to be my mentor. I cannot put into words the respect I have for Leonard. He shoots it to me straight. Sometimes what he says hurt, cuts, or may even make me angry. But I know it’s the truth and it comes from a place of love. Many of the changes you see, and will see happen in the near future for William Wilson Clothing is a direct reflection of Leonard’s influence on my life, and my business.
Branding is a crucial part of your success, both personally and professionally. Who you display yourself to be, is what people see you as. Business lessons often mimic life lessons. Many of us never see success because we focus on the wrong things. Your brand is the foundation of your reputation and what people will think of you. Take time as ask yourself. How do others describe me? How do they describe my company? The way they answer these questions are how they see your brand. If you’re happy with what they say, then keep doing what you’re doing. If not…. Until next time.
God bless and dress well,