Do Brands Really Matter?

My wife, Mollie, and I recently co-founded an education consulting company, Improved Learning LLC.

While we are excited about this new venture, we also recognize the work ahead. During the ideation and business planning phase, I kept coming back to our brand. Each of us has an individual brand but what we really need is a company brand.

Mollie is a respected educator with over 10 years of experience. She is dedicated to preparing her students and is professionally trained to work with a variety of student types. I am a reputable technologist and innovator. I have worked in a variety of industries and built several relationships with industry leaders. The problem is, our company, the one we want you to pay to help your school, your student(s), or your company, has absolutely no reputation. We have no online community, no customers, nothing.

As a startup, this is a typical problem. It shouldn't be typical for "established" companies.

Its well known that social media has overtaken the planet. It has been credited for the Tunisian overthrow and Egyptian Revolutions of 2011 but also for large numbers of suicides due to online bullying. Humans post videos of cats, children's programs, of wild animals and of fights. We even have AI-generated YouTube videos. The bottom line --

What you write or record will eventually be read or seen.

Years ago, I read a book by Michael Hyatt. Michael is a former CEO of a publishing company and has written several successful books however one of my favorites is Platform:Get Noticed in a Noisy World. After reading it, I made the decision to not only begin building a personal brand for myself but I also decided to push my colleagues do the same. Though produced with low-budget cameras and microphones, the job is getting done and people are getting noticed.

From a business perspective this makes sense. The more we engage with the world at large, the more our company and its products or services will be on the mind of potential customers. To be clear, social media is not the only way to do this. I just happen to believe it is one of the most effective and least expensive methods.

Do you still think social media and personal brands are overrated? Here are some simple steps to find out if you are missing the mark on social media:

1. Search for and document your competitors' social media followings (ie followers on twitter, subscribers on YouTube, etc.

2. Compare your competitors online following to your company. Are you happy with where you stand?

3. Better yet, if you have a boss, reveal these findings to him or her. Are they happy?

If you came to the conclusion that building a brand and a social media following matters, then its time to put your marketing cap on. Here are a few ways you can get started:

1. Spend a few hours digging through the online communities of the most successful companies in your industry.

2. Hire a company, like Improved Learning (shameless plug), to help you put together a plan.

3. Reading Michael Price's book What Next? The Millennial’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the Real World

Also published on Medium.

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