As a new business owner I was told repeatedly the most important thing I could do was build and protect my brand. But, and this is a big but, what is my brand? 

Branding…it’s your logo. Branding…it’s your advertising. Branding…it’s your image. Definitions varied, guidance for successfully achieving it was based on each person’s experience, and advisors frequently contradicted each other. 

Bottom line, after 3 years of listening, reading, and learning, I was no closer to understanding how to build my brand than when I started. 

Interestingly Starbucks, one of the world’s most successful brands, didn’t even set out to build a brand. Their goal was “to build a great company, one that stood for something, one that valued the authenticity of its products and the passion of its people.”1

How did they do it? From the inside out. They started by identifying their core values: those things that Starbucks stand for today, tomorrow, and everyday. Then they hired bright, passionate people who shared the same values. They trained them to be knowledgeable and excited about coffee. This combination created a culture that customers wanted to be a part of – it created a brand.

What are you and your employees telling your customers about your brand? Are you as a business owner proactively creating and directing this message?


1P.244, Pour Your Heart Into It, by Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks)