The challenge lies in building a brand

The holy grail of doing business is building a brand. No matter the industry or the type of business you are running, ultimately, every entrepreneur wants a brand. This is a universal desire whatever the personality of the owner. From the most analytical engineering types to the exact number or creative types - all entrepreneurs want a brand.

This desire is especially interesting if you consider the constant debate around sales versus marketing. Strong opinions persist in favour of each, yet everyone seems in agreement about one thing: the power of owning a brand.

But brand-building is not easy. It requires counter-intuitive thinking that does not come easy to the business owner pressed for cash and looking for the shortest route to selling the company. It is this combination of difficultness and desirability that makes building a brand, in my opinion, the top challenge for entrepreneurs in the coming year.

Building a brand requires a disciplined approach to design, messaging, customer service and quality that pushes the entire business to new heights. You can't grow a brand if your company isn't well run, or at least on its way to being well run.

A brand - whether a company or product brand - is the cherry on top of running a business with purpose. It means you are successfully coordinating things across the business to make an impression to the outside that leaves customers with a clear understanding of what you stand for.

But where do you start this new year as you hope to build a brand?

I suggest starting with a clear understanding of why you are doing what you're doing, for whom you are doing it, and what you want them to think about you. In short, a clear vision, target customer and message. The only other primary ingredient is time. Building a brand takes time since no reputation is made overnight.

Owning a brand offers a business the most efficient way to secure new sales at the highest price. This combination of low acquisition cost and higher prices makes a brand a profit engine for the business. It is why every business should aim to build one and why it must be one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs in the coming year.

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