One of the most important things you can do to strengthen your business is to strengthen the power of your brand. Creating a recognizable brand that stands out and attracts a loyal following will help you outshine your competition and stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Establishing a standout brand allows a business to thrive in a troubled economy, outlast trends, withstand the winds of controversy, and even outlive tragedy.

One way of determining if you have a true business, and not just a hobby or a glorified j.o.b, is to ask yourself this question: “If I died tomorrow, would this business go on without me?”

Sure, that’s a little morbid. But I’m serious. Does any facet of your business exist outside of yourself, or does the business solely depend upon you? Have you created anything enduring that will leave a legacy? Does your imprint on the business have lasting star power?

Thinking about your business in this way is important, even if you have no desire for your business to ever operate without you. Assessing the lasting star power of your products, services, and the way you package what you offer your customers is a smart way to measure the health and vitality of your business.

When people fall in love with your brand, your business becomes bigger than life and you can write your own ticket.

Consider the luminary label of Alexander McQueen. Celebrities and socialites fell in love with Alexander McQueen’s extraordinary talent, penchant for impeccable tailoring, unconventional style, and extravagant runway shows that came alive with drama. His fashion conscious customers and fans developed affection for his lavish cutting edge designs, and their loyalty to the brand showed in sales. McQueen created something much larger than himself.

Alexander McQueen’s signature style captured the public’s fancy to such a degree that the brand did not falter upon its founder’s untimely death last year. Though a troubled McQueen took his own life in early 2010, the business that was created around his brand did not go with him. Instead, his assistant Sarah Burton was named the creative director and the strength of McQueen’s brand lives on through Burton’s designs.

The royal bride herself, Kate Middleton, chose to get married in an Alexander McQueen original design, which will go on display in Buckingham Palace this summer. The essence of style McQueen established was strong enough that it could live on, and the company he headed was able to continue to flourish. His contribution was that significant. We could all learn from this.

What if you created something so exceptional that your team saw the obvious value in carrying on your business without you? If you really want success, don't settle for mediocre.


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