What does it take for entrepreneurs to grow from being a good business into a great brand? I have always believed the one differentiator that will make you stand out from the rest is the ability to cultivate quality conversations and sustainable relationships. Yet the more and more businesses that I see springing up online, it feels like crowds of business owners standing on their market stalls shouting out their latest offer to lure me in – who do I listen to? Who do I trust?
Daniel Bennett, a farmer turned branding consultant/practitioner (yes you heard that right!) shared his interesting story, when delving beyond the surface, his success in creating successful brands all starts to make sense. He shared some of his most valuable learnings towards creating a strong successful brand.
Adaptability and flexibility
This is vital to move with the times or you find yourself being left behind with redundant practices. Daniel has found himself in the design industry for the last 27 years, continually developing his skills while transitioning from print to the digital age. However, with the design landscape completely changing in the aftershock of the recession in 2012 it was a time to dig deep, evaluate and test the design strategies he uses on his clients to his own brand.
Internal reflection and growth
An interesting observation I have made after meeting purposeful entrepreneurs over the years is that there is a common theme of trauma, whereby it pushes individuals to see life from a different perspective. A traumatic situation can either make or break an individual, it is a place where you tend to be forced to reflect inwardly and ask challenging questions around re-evaluating what REALLY matters in your life.
In 2007 Daniel was the Managing Director of a printing firm, he was faced with guiding the company through the largest financial crisis the world has ever witnessed. He was faced with a tough decision to make redundancies to keep the business alive and turned to the chairman (ex CEO) for support. Claiming no responsibility or moral obligation Daniel was told that “It is your fault and your problem, go and sort it out.”
“He was still getting paid £35k a year, you know for a cup of coffee once a week. That man then went down hugely in my estimations. It is all very well that he did quite nicely in the good times but when times aren’t so good he bottled it.” – Daniel Bennett
Due to stress Daniel was diagnosed with depression and left the company in the best interests of everyone (including himself). He took some time out to work with a coach to explore and find his direction again. It was two simple questions that gave Daniel that lightbulb moment that changed his whole perspective of his purpose in life.
What did you like about farming?
Why don’t you go back to farming?
Daniel chose not to go back to farming as it did not provide him with the income and lifestyle that he desired, however the magic moment was when he connected the synergies with the process of farming with brand building. It was only then the focus, clarity and process unfolded. Daniel uses an effective 5 step approach to brand building:
Daniel shares how his mental health became the catalyst for change. He explains how his winning formula is all about emotional connection together with an intuitive and scientific approach.
Getting a very clear understanding of your clients is one of the most valuable skills for any business to have, yet it continues to surprise me how numbers of businesses continue to struggle with it. The important thing to remember is to ask the right questions, delving under the skin and getting a clear picture of the vision and mission. What is it about and how can it be reflected in the brand? What is the motivation? What values are priority? How is this converted into a growing yet loyal customers/clients base?
The most common mistakes that I have seen so many people repeatedly make are assumptions about what their clients envision, waiting to reply to people without truly listening and feeling into the person they are having a conversation with. I do believe this type of facilitation requires an element of emotional intelligence to understand the brand’s true purpose and potential. This is the reason why I believe it is always valuable to have a coach/mentor to ask you the key questions, it helps you to get clear and focused
“I love spending time with some really successful people. That’s the difference with big corporates and ambitious entrepreneurs because you can never be friends with the big corporates because there is so much hypocrisy and hidden agenda, there is so much that is unsaid but known. However, when you are working on a one to one basis with someone you develop this bond, relationship and communication. You learn how to talk to each other, you learn their language to enable the extraction then provide them the value.” – Daniel Bennett
This a one of Daniel’s strengths that struck me, he understands the value of conversation (including listening) as a core part of the brand building process with his clients.
Daniel shared with me how he connected with a retired Lawyer. He explained how he charges £450 per hour. His justification for his charges when sitting in a meeting is that they have paid for his opinion, based on 30 years of education and experience. It is an opinion which is formulated, considered and substantiated. This is a powerful lesson in leveraging your business above the rest. It is a business buying into you and the trust that has been built between both parties. The irony lies in the fact that the more you charge, the more believable you become.
Daniel works with investment property entrepreneurs leveraging their great businesses into trusted brands.