Gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come” in business. There is immense competition in every industry and if you haven’t considered building a strong brand for your business, you’re missing out!
But isn’t my brand just my logo?
Nope. It’s so much more
Simply put, your brand is everything!
A brand is the sum of people’s perception of a company’s service, advertising, communication, reputation & differentiation among its competitors that results in a customer’s decision to purchase one product/service over another. In order to have a healthy brand all of these parts have to work together cohesively.
Branding is NOT just creating a logo or byline statement or a symbol. It is the creation of an experience that will make the customer want more and more of your brand.
This experience is rooted in everything your business does in order to create strong positive emotions, something that can lead the customer to trust and become loyal to it regardless of price or convenience.
So, why should you make this effort? Why not just make a pretty logo and a website and be done with it?
Well, the strength, or lack thereof, of your brand may be hurting your business and not getting you the results you’re after. Your brand may be missing some or all of the key ingredients listed below.
1. You’re not memorable
It’s hard to remember a company with a generic name, purpose and business focus.
And why would you hire a company if you couldn’t tell what they did and who they did it for?
Branding your business ensures consumers will know what you’re all about, who you’re for and what they will get.
Knowing what you stand for can help you stand out.
Some of the key questions we ask our clients to help differentiate them are:
✦ What do you stand for?
✦ What do you stand against?
✦ What makes you “talkaboutable?”
✦ What do you offer that your customers can’t get anywhere else?
If you’ve never taken the time to answer these questions for your business you will have a forgettable brand that will get washed away in the sea of sameness.
2. You haven’t built trust
The fact is, people build close bonds with brands they like and that fit who they are or who they want to be.
Consumers want to do business with brands they trust and identify with. So, your business should have an identity that your customers can cling to.
Your brand is much bigger than just what you do as a company. What you do or how you do it may change over time but why you do it will stay consistent, and people buy why you do what you do.
When correctly developed your brand reveals and reflects your values and beliefs with your customers which creates an emotional connection with them that inspires loyalty and advocacy. ⠀
This has to flow from what the company truly is at its core. Customers are savvy and can tell when your values are forced or misaligned with the way you’re representing yourself — you have to be genuine.
The best known and most successful brands exist for reasons that go beyond making money and they do a great job of showing who they are.
So what is the deeper reason your company exists? What values does your company hold that if they were to stop, the whole business would cease to exist?
3. You’re inconsistent & therefore unknown
If you line up your website, brochure, facebook ads and business cards nothing looks the same. The fonts, colors and overall look and feel are all over the place.
How is anyone supposed to know these are all you or remember you when you look different each time you show up?
You want the people who have not done business with you to know who you are and what you do each time they see your business represented in your marketing.
This is where consistency is key, your audience should be able to cover up your logo from your ads and still know it’s you.
The consistency in brand recognition will ensure that when the time comes that they need your product or service, your company will be the first to come to mind.
4. You’re not relatable and human
Just like in our relationships, people connect with brands they know, like and trust.
Steve Jobs talked about a product more like a person than like a product.
When he introduced a new product like the iPad, he said “You can do this with iPad.” Not “You can do this with AN iPad.”
Companies like Geico have developed a gekko character to make them more connect worthy. Hotels.com has Captain Obvious for the same reason.
Characters are intended to help their audience connect with the brand. Human properties bring a high level of attraction and loyalty to a brand.
Ok, so you don’t need to go renting a mascot suit for your business but do think about how you can create a brand experience with personality.
People relate to people, not things, and since your customers are people, your brand needs to relate to them on a human level.
How are you communicating on your website, social media and marketing materials? Put away the corporate speak and industry jargon in favor of a more conversational language and you will see clients respond favorably.
5. You have no discernable reputation
Consumers pay for image and status. They are constantly asking themselves “If I buy this, what does that say about me?” “How will this elevate or lower my status.”
Status isn’t always linked to material possessions either. If by doing business with you your client receives a positive transformation, that’s a status elevating event they want to experience.
Remember back in the early 2000s when you saw someone on the subway that was proudly wearing those iconic white headphones, you knew they had an iPhone and you thought that was pretty snazzy and wanted to be cool like them.
Furthermore, you would pay whatever price they were charging to get them! (These days the equivalent would be wireless airpods).
If people only want one brand of a particular product or service, they are willing to pay a higher price. When you have a strong brand with a superior image you are essentially competition-proofing your business!
6. You’re trying to be all things to all people
When I ask clients who their ideal customers are I usually get very vague answers. They may as well be saying “Anyone with a heartbeat and a wallet.”
Well, unfortunately that isn’t going to get you very far in business these days.
Just like in life, in business, you can’t try to be all things to all people.
If you haven’t decided just who your product or service is for then you risk sounding too generic in your marketing and not appealing to anyone at all!
Seth Godin wisely proclaims that “A brand that stands for everything stands for nothing much at all.” And he is correct!
The most successful and differentiated brands are able to answer these five questions for their audience:
✦ Who am I?
✦ What do I do?
✦ How do I do it uniquely in the marketplace?
✦ Who do I do it for?
✦ Why should they care?
A company that tries to serve everyone is really serving no one and risks becoming obsolete. (Remember Sears, Radio Shack and Kodak?)
By establishing your ideal audience you ensure that your marketing is more focused and targeted.
This means you can speak to and target a specific group of people in their voice, tone and language whose problems you are familiar with rather than shouting at everyone in a generic way and hoping something will land.
It’s the difference between shooting a sniper rifle vs. a shotgun.
A strong brand has incredible power
Every day for a business is a battle for your customers’ attention.
Strong branding can help you win that battle and not fall behind the pack.
If you consider the points above and start strengthening your brand, you’ll create a preference in your customer’s mind, make brand advocates, and be able to charge a premium for your products or services.
Cha-ching! 💰That’s the power of a strong brand!
What brand signals are you putting out there?