“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.“
-Maya Angelou, poet & author (and one of my favorite storytellers)
Minneapolis is home to some of the biggest known brand names in the world. In 2016, Minneapolis and its metro areas had 25 Fortune 1000 companies. Seventeen of those companies are Fortune 500 companies. See if you recognize any of the names:
- Best Buy
- S. Bancorp (U.S. Bank)
- General Mills
- Land O’ Lakes
- Ameriprise Financial
- UnitedHealth Group
Most Americans can spot the Target bulls eye from a mile away even in a crowded strip mall parking lot. The same is true of U.S. Bank and Best Buy whose iconic logos are great at grabbing the eye of passersby everywhere from the massive Mall of America in the Minneapolis metro area to the streets of places like (west) Little Rock, Arkansas. General Mills has not only branded itself, but has created several brand lines within its product catalog. Cereals like Cheerios, cocoa Puffs, Trix, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch stick out in grocery aisles across America. As do Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Haagen-Dazs, Totino’s, and Yoplait. How’s this for proof of their power to brand: “Our brands – such as Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Haagen-Dazs and Cascadian Farm, to name a few – are enjoyed in more than 100 countries on six continents.”
BUILDING A BRAND IN MINNEAPOLIS
As you can imagine, it can be tough to compete with the giants that line the highways and byways of Minneapolis. If you want to create a brand from scratch, or have found need to start over or adjust your brand strategy, don’t be dismayed. There is plenty of opportunity for success. Companies like Little Co thrive in Minneapolis by using design to voice stories that ultimately explain their clients’ brands. How do they do it? At least one way is from a design that comes from the inside of the company and naturally flows out. They call it “Branding from the Inside Out”. Another big name (no pun intended) brand expert in Minneapolis, Spyglass Brand Marketing, operates as a “collaborator to pinpoint you secret sauce and bring it to life”. The point that successful brand makers and shakers know: You are your brand. You just may not know how to tell your story.
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
The Small Business Administration helps people pursue their passion through business every day. Besides having local offices around the country, they also have helpful staff and resources to assist you in creating and establishing your company or product. I found 20 questions that you should ask before starting a business online and think a few of these are especially useful for digging into who you are and how you fit in the broader spectrum of businesses in Minneapolis:
- Why am I starting a business?
- What products or services will my business provide?
- What differentiates my business idea and the products or services I will provide from others in the market?
All three of these questions get to the heart of a bigger, yet simpler, question: Why?
I truly believe every person and every endeavor exists for a reason. I think it’s pretty obvious most people agree with that whether they know it or not. We all make decisions for particular reasons, whether it is convenience or consistency or because you think it’s the best way to do it. It all comes down to desire. We do what we desire to do. So why do you want to start a business? Short answer: I desire to. I would like to and …. That’s what you are looking to fill in. You need to know why it makes sense. What gap does it fill? What is the purpose for your business instead of the ones that already exist in the market? What is the purpose you were created to fill? This is the purpose no one else can replicate because it is uniquely found in you and who you are.
When you start to listen to your story and unwrap all of the unique circumstances and influences that have made you who you are today, you can see a bit more clearly that the desire to start your business or sell your product flows out of you. It tells your story. But what is that story? And how will it affect the way you do business, the way you operate and interact? The key to identifying and building your brand is to identify and understand who you are because your brand is just that…you.
You tell the world a story with everything you do. What story are you telling?
BONUS: I got the quote at the beginning of this blog from Inc.com. I recommend reading this article for inspiration. Good luck on your journey “Branding Minneapolis”!
For more on Branding, check out our blog series: