How Long Does It Take to Build a Brand?

What is the most valuable asset that your company owns? Someone in the finance or real estate industries might say that their market knowledge and expertise is the most important asset. Someone in manufacturing might look to the most expensive piece of equipment in the factory. And both of these people would be wrong, regardless of whether you’re in a product-based or service-based industry.

As you can likely guess based on the title of this blog post, far and away the most valuable asset that your company will ever own is its brand. If a competing company with no known name in the marketplace tried to sell a phone that is functionally identical to the iPhone, it would still fall flat on its face.

It’s not about matching the iPhone on a spec-for-spec basis. The Apple brand (and all the connotations that go along with it) is the biggest reason why the iPhone is so popular in the first place.

Everyone Knows This Logo

You don’t need to be a Coca-Cola or a Mercedes or an IKEA to a strong and recognizable brand, but you do need to recognize that this kind of brand recognition is not going to happen overnight.

Not too many people knew about John Chow when he first started on this Internet marketing journey over a decade ago, but you can bet your horses that a lot of people in the industry know him now. The same is true for “Problogger” Darren Rowse or “Shoemoney” Jeremy Schoemaker. They build big brands for themselves.

How long does that take if you’re just starting out with blogging now? What about on YouTube, Instagram, or anywhere else online? What if you’re an Internet startup and you want your web app or mobile game to make a big splash, like how Rovio did with Angry Birds or how Niantic did with Pokemon Go?

Does This Magic Number Surprise You?

According to some extensive research conducted by Mark Schaefer, he found that it took an average of about 30 months for someone to become “known” in their respective fields. This is based on interviewing nearly 100 people across a range of industries. That’s two and a half years, in case you don’t want to do the math.

This echoes a profoundly important lesson that we’ve heard so many times before. What we may perceive as an “overnight success” probably didn’t happen overnight. It probably took years of hard work, dedication, and more than a fair share of rejection and failure. Do you think that Rovio had a smash hit with its first try? Not even close. Do you think Apple skyrocketed the top right away? Not in the least. Do you think John Chow went from a relative nobody to the relative Internet celebrity he is today with just one interview in a local newspaper? No.

These all represent the culmination of continued effort in the face of adversity. It also means that you not only need to be dedicated to what you do and the value that you offer to the world, but also patient enough to see it through. Your brand will not leap into the wider consciousness with just one blog post, one YouTube video, or one press release. You might get lucky with a viral hit, but don’t bank on it. Bank on your persistence. Bank on you offering something unique.

Believe in Yourself First

As Schaefer describes in his article, a mere sprint can be fueled by passion, but building your brand and earning your success is much more like running a marathon. “Lots of people have talent,” said wine blogger Dr. Jamie Goode, “and few convert that talent into something meaningful.”

Before anyone else can believe in you, you have to believe in what you’re doing. And you have to keep believing when people around you say you should give up. You need to be resilient. “Never lose sight of why you started your own movement,” said Social Good Moms founder Jennifer James. “Keep going even when you’re unsure of your impact.”

Will you keep going? Will you persevere? Will you build your brand to the point where I’ll be writing about you in this space 30 months from now?

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