In this article, we will discuss how to build your brand using three branding strategies because there is more to business than providing a product or service.  A successful company has to create and develop a brand.  In order to make this as simple as possible, I will use a company that I absolutely love:  Marine Layer.  Marine Layer is a company that makes “absurdly soft clothes” based in San Francisco. Now, there’s a lot of things that Marine Layer is doing right, but today we’re going to focus on three smart strategies that you can use in your business.

Strategy #1:  Be Refreshingly Real

So what does that mean? It means that you can be quirky, you can be awkward, and flawed, and still have a professional, successful business. For starters, I will review their “Our Story” page. Here’s the founder, Mike, posing with his merchandise. And the copy says, “Ignore the awkward smile, focus on the shirts.” That’s letting us in and telling us, hey, we’re a team of regular people led by a regular guy who’s not some camera-ready, born-for-the-spotlight superstar.

They even use a real quote from a customer that made me smile reading it:  “I WANT TO BE BURIED IN MARINE LAYER-The nicest and most morbid customer compliment ever.

And then as story continues telling us how they grew from their first tee shirt, it tells us about their first mistake. “Since then we’ve gotten a bunch of friends to quit their real jobs and help us make some more shirts and open up a few more stores in some places we like to visit. Except for Burlingame. We opened up a shop there and closed that shit down fast. In fact, the only good thing about that store was the opening party we had at Shabu Shabu.”

That’s not just honest, it’s funny and it’s conversational in the way that you don’t normally see in business. And the more that you cruise around their site, you’ll see that they’re refreshingly real on every page. So now ask yourself, could you show more of the real you in your business? Are you a little more buttoned up than you need to be? Remember, you don’t have to hide who you really are or put on your business voice to be considered professional.

Strategy #2:  Create Trust Through Transparency

So you’ve probably heard the saying that in business we like to buy from people we know, like, and trust, and that is so true. And one of the easiest ways to create more trust in your business is to be transparent. So you want to talk about how you run your business and why you make the choices that you make.

Now, Marine Layer clearly cares about sustainability and makes a point to talk about how most of their clothing is manufactured in the US. They go on to say: “Our goal has always been to make the highest quality product for our customers, and after a few years of making pretty expensive outerwear and sweaters that didn’t always fit quite right, we went looking for a solution. We happened to find it in Sampran, Thailand at a family-run factory called Palmy. The specialize in technical wear and maintain ethical standards that match ours. Match made in ML heaven? We think so.” They’re being honest about the fact that sometimes you have to compromise in order to get the right product, and they’re also getting us on board with that compromise instead of trying to sweep it under the rug so we don’t see it.

That kind of transparency gives us the feeling I know these guys. They’re good guys. I can trust them. So I want you to ask yourself, is there any part of your story or your process that your customers would appreciate hearing more about? Anything that you could share that could help them know, like, and trust you more?

Strategy #3:  Don’t Be Afraid To Sell

Sales are the heartbeat of your business. If you don’t have sales, you don’t have a business. But so many of us are afraid to put that out there plainly and say, “Hey, I made something awesome. I think you’re going to love it and I want you to buy it.” Here’s a few examples of how Marine Layer is doing it right. On their website any time you hover over the “bag” section (i.e. your shopping cart), you get a pop-up saying “Hey this empty bag would look better with some shirts in it!” There is nothing pushy or aggressive about it, and it is a little funny.

They are proud of what they do, they care about their customers, and they want their business to thrive. So have a look at your brand and ask yourself, are you too shy to ask your customers to buy? So now let’s put all these great ideas to work because insight without action is worthless!