Whether we are aware of it or not, we are branding ourselves and our businesses every day. Through the process of doing business and simply communicating with other folks, we are leaving a lasting impression of our “brand”.
Brand is a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization. It's what your customers say it is... not what you say it is.
If this is true, then it is probably a good idea for those of us in business to make a conscious effort to build and manage our brand. Even if we don’t manage it, the brand will build itself. Like a child without the proper guidance, it may not turn out the way you intended. Brand grows, whether you pay attention to it or not.
Brand is not your logo. But your logo does represent your brand. As does everyone who works for you. The way you answer— or don’t answer— your phone. Or even the manner in which your billing statements are sent to your clients. Are they easy to understand? Are the terms and conditions fair? Brand is about the feeling your customers have towards you. It is why they choose you over another vendor. There can be only one low price leader. The rest of us have to make relationships with people to earn their trust. Customer’s trust is the foundation to making and maintaining sales. But before trust is established, we have to earn the opportunity to gain trust. How do you go about earning that opportunity? Build your brand.
How do you build brand?
- Understand your brand. What do you want people to think/feel about your company or organization? Write it down. Talk about it with your employees. Make them part of your branding team.
- Understand your competition’s brand. What’s good about it? What’s the bad? Don’t make the same mistakes they make. What can make your brand superior to your competitors?
- Realign your actions. If you want someone to feel a certain way about you, you need to behave a certain way. This applies to everyone from the owner of the company to the part-time summer help. The brand is no good until you can make the “sale” internally. If your employees buy into the idea it will be much easier to make that emotional sale to your customers.
- Take a look at your promotional materials. Do they convey the brand image you would like for your customers to take with them? Are the materials consistent? Do your brochures have the same feel as your website? Or, are your customers being sent a mixed message about your company? About you?
- Execute your branding strategy. Once you have devised your strategy, you must execute. No plan has ever accomplished a single objective without the action to follow it up. Be your company’s “Brand Champion."
Your brand is happening right now. What is the perception of your brand?