It's easy to get caught up in your business's cool ideas. You've invested countless hours (not to mention money) into everything from naming your company to getting a business credit card. If you're just starting out, you're probably at-the-edge-of-your-seat excited to tell the world about your amazing products or services.

But sometimes this excitement may cause you to overlook fundamental details of your brand identity. By focusing on what your business does -- and forgetting to focus on your direct customer impact -- you chip away at your brand.

As if to counteract this, buzzwords and superlative claims can slowly creep in. And before you know it, your message gets lost in the noise.

When building your brand, you have to be keenly aware of how it's perceived. Every representation of your brand should be in terms of customer benefit. Prove to customers how and why you matter.

These three prompts will help you get to the core of your business value -- and your brand identity.

1. Can you describe what your company does in less than five words?

According to scientists, humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. You have to be able to explain your company quickly and easily. This exercise forces you to cut the buzzwords and focus only on the most important, foundational elements of your value proposition.

For example, with my current company, our slogan is "Branding made easy." But how do we make branding easy? Do we do branding? Do we provide consulting? This exercise requires more specificity, so we changed the description to "easy, low-cost branding tools."

Branding that's low-cost and easy is our value proposition. But the actual tools that we offer? Those are for other businesses to do their branding.

2. How would you explain your company to a child?

Albert Einstein supposedly said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." If you can't simplify your value proposition and competitive differentiation, chances are you don't yet fully understand them.

And if you don't, then your customers definitely won't. Instead, imagine explaining your business to your five-year-old nephew. Break down the bigger concepts into small bites.

My company's explanation, for example, would go something like this:

A business having a logo is as important as a kid having a name. How else do you people know who you are and know what to call you? With our platform, small business owners can go on the internet and make a logo design for their business.

Designing a logo can be kind of tricky and sometimes, it costs a lot of money. But our website is really easy to use and it doesn't cost a lot, so we help them get their logo faster.

3. If your brand were a person, who would they be and why?

Imagine your brand as a living, breathing person. What's their personality like? How do they act? How do they speak? Who do you want your brand to be?

My company's person would be an extremely successful business owner. Why? Because we remind customers of the exciting possibilities of their business.

Our brand person is someone who conquered the challenges of starting and growing a business. They inspire our customers and show that they too can be successful.

These three prompts will help you understand the essence of your brand. With a clear value proposition, differentiation, and personality, your brand will stand out in an identifiable way.

Published on: Feb 28, 2017