What is a brand?
You know you need to build a brand, but are you starting in the right place?
How do you get the kind of business you want, the kind of customers you want, the sales you want? By building a strong brand.
We know companies scale successfully by building an emotional connection with customers, prospects and, yes, even employees. To create that emotional connection, you need to do four things, all of which are tied to having a clear brand.
- You need to know people intimately, so you know what they want or need.
- You need to know your unique value proposition, your brand promise, so you can communicate effectively what it is you deliver that fulfills their want or need.
- You need to communicate it with appropriate credibility and trust markers, so their expectation is that you will come through on your promise.
- You need a business model designed to do the above and deliver on it consistently.
A well-understood and well-communicated brand can do several things for your business. You get higher clarity and focus across your whole organization. You become the business you want to be. You deliver value consistently. Strategic decisions are easier because anything that doesn’t fit the brand becomes an easy no. You get more customer loyalty because people like to do business with companies they know and trust.
But what you really want your brand to do is increase sales, sales, sales! When you can tell your brand story clearly and in a way that is relevant to your target audience, you will ignite your growth. You. Will. Sell. More.
Where to start?
Contrary to what you might think, your brand is not merely a symbol or name. It’s not your logo or colors or a catchy jingle. Your brand is the culmination of communications and experiences that a person receives from every contact with your organization. It’s how you follow up and deliver on what you say―consistently. It’s how you walk the walk.
To build a strong brand, then, your focus must be outward. You need to see your organization as others see you. While your business strategy is focused inward, your brand strategy has to begin with what your customers, prospects, and even your employees think of you.
Here’s the thing: your brand resides in the minds of your stakeholders. Humans have an inherent need to organize or slot people, experiences, and ideas into compartments to help qualify and remember them later. If no clear defining information is received to help do that, the human brain simply makes something up. People come up with their own slot “or brand” for what they encounter―or simply forget about the experience altogether.
The place to start to build your brand is to hold a mirror up to your organization and see it the way your customers see you. What is their experience with you like? Take surveys. Talk to customers and ask what they think. Analyze your online feedback. Take the time to discover what your brand perception is in the minds of the people with whom you interact. That’s what matters. That is what will tell you what your brand is and how it is perceived in the marketplace.
You do not own your brand. The best thing you can do is manage your brand so that your customers’ perceptions come very close to what you want them to be. That’s where building your brand starts, and where brand strategy then comes into play. You manage your brand by making decisions on how to tell your brand story in a way that attracts new business or closes the gap between what the market perceives your brand to be and what you want it to be. Or making decisions on how to deliver a customer experience that wows the people you want to be your customers.
These are the four components that you need to focus on to craft a killer brand strategy.
1. Who You Are? (Mission, Vision, Core Values, Purpose)
2. Who You Serve? (Ideal Target Market)
3. How You are Different? (Unique value proposition, competitive advantage)
4. What is your personality? (Tone of voice, visual identity)
We are going to dig deeper into each of these four components in our next blog posts to help you Brand Strong.
Next: Components of Brand Strategy: #1 Who are you?