By Daymond John

A lot of new entrepreneurs have asked me what makes a successful brand and how I choose the businesses I invest in on Shark Tank. I could go on and on for days about all of the aspects of a successful startup or brand, but they all really have one thing in common. Every successful brand starts with its owner, and every successful entrepreneur really invests him or herself in the brand. So let’s take a minute to talk about what that means and how you can build your brand from the inside out.

Start With What You Love

Every single business I’ve invested in on Shark Tank had something special about it, and that something special comes from the entrepreneur behind it. It comes from passion, drive, and personality. You came up with an idea that got you excited, so don’t just build a brand around your product’s features; build a brand around what excites you about your product or service. Show your customers why they should be excited about it, too.

You Sell Your Products

When I started FUBU, it was just me, one of my friends, and my mom. We didn’t have anything or anyone else, but we built that brand up and made a huge splash in the fashion world. I was still working in a restaurant to make ends meet while I had rappers wearing my shirts in their videos, but if I hadn’t really put myself into my brand, FUBU would’ve been a blip on the radar instead of a world-changing brand for hip-hop fashion.

What’s in a Name? Everything

And while we’re talking about FUBU, let’s talk about your brand’s name. For Us By Us created a sense of community and togetherness. Nobody in the fashion world was creating clothes for urban kids who listened to hip-hop, so I created a brand that said, “We can do it ourselves. We got this.”

Being your own man, coming from poverty, and rising to stardom are all really important aspects of rap and hip hop culture. They’re also really important aspects of being an entrepreneur and building a brand. I took what I wanted to do with my life and how I wanted to make money, and I put all that into a brand that was focused on building up my community and the people in it. Instead of waiting around for someone else to make hats, shirts, and shoes that worked for my style and other urban kids’ styles, I thought, “I got this.” And I named my brand accordingly.

Build Your Brand Voice With Your Voice

While you’re injecting your personality into your brand and building it to represent you, think about how you’re going to represent it. How do you talk to people when you talk about your brand? Is it really different from how you write about your brand or the voice you use to talk to customers when you’re trying to sell something?

If so, you need to think about why your voice differs from your brand voice. It could be because you’re not showing enough confidence in your brand. If that’s the case, it’s time to start believing in your brand and yourself, and it’s time to change the way you talk about it.

It also could be because your established brand voice is what you think it “should” be. If that’s the case, think about how people react to how you talk about your brand versus how they react when they read something about your brand. You might just need to put more of your personality and your own voice into your brand voice.

As an entrepreneur, you need to think about your brand as a part of you. When you keep in mind that it starts and ends with you, you’ll be in a good place to build it into an empire.

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