Mark Kohlenberg is chief executive officer of Milwaukee Boot Co., Moral Code Footwear and Accessories and Well Dressed Men Footwear and Accessories and was previously an executive with Weyco Group and Umi Shoes. He shares advice on building a brand and growing a business.
“As an entrepreneur, the goal of building a brand should be to create a product or service that is unique, difficult to copy and either responds to a need or captures white space in the market.
“Some brands sell on price. This is almost impossible to maintain. Rather than selling on price, focus on quality, uniqueness or style. In my experience I try to create passion, excitement, wonder and an emotional attachment that hopefully I can convey to the buyer via the product. If this can be achieved, you have taken the first steps to creating a brand. Brands aren’t built by simply copying something else in the market, but instead taking what is already there and tweaking it, improving it, changing it for the better.
“Entrepreneurship can be exhausting and unforgiving at times. Obstacles and challenges are part of the daily grind. Some days it can feel as if you aren’t even moving forward. However, persistence and tenacity are key attributes for an entrepreneur. You have to believe in yourself and your product or you can’t expect anyone else to believe in you. Your passion, patience and perseverance are what will help position you for success after others have already given up. It’s not an easy path, but overcoming the challenges and ultimately bringing a product or brand to market can be one of the most exciting things in life.”
Milwaukee Boot Co., Moral Code, WDM
Industry: Footwear and accessories