August 25, 2015
You don’t have to investigate the marketing world for more than a moment to understand one key statement: brand is king. Your company’s brand is its lifeblood, its reason for existing, its greatest success, and potentially, its biggest downfall.
One realization that entrepreneurs tend to have all too late is that if companies don’t build a brand for themselves, their brand is built for them. The only choice that a business has in the matter is whether they take control and create their brand, or allow it to be created by default within the market.
Let’s talk about how entrepreneurs build winning brands.
Define how you are different from the competition
Every company has competitors. While your marketing does not need to address those competitors directly, and in fact, can get troubling fast if it does, it’s still important for your team to know who the competition is, and how your company is different. Do you commit to lower prices, better service, higher quality, or a wider range of services? Is your product line more inclusive, or do you deep dive on one service, and plan to establish your company as the absolute industry expert?
Once you know what makes you stand out, you know what to emphasize in your marketing.
Understand your target customer
To successfully build a winning brand, you need to know who you’re selling to. Moms with three kids are a very different marketing than single guys in their thirties. If you want to reach your potential audience where they live, you need to know who they are. You need to know how they spend their free time, and what they do other than just enjoy your product, so you know what tie-ins to use for your product, and where to market your company.
Hint: if you think that your target customer is everyone, you’re wrong. Go back to the drawing board and try again.
Set concrete goals
Every second company that decides to write a mission statement says something about how they value customers and create great experiences. It’s a lot of hot air until you create clear and measurable expectations for how that value and experience will be created.
Don’t be afraid to:
- Get specific! If your company promises quick service, how quick? If your company promises satisfaction, how far will you go to guarantee that promise?
- Think scale. It’s one thing to make sure all orders are mailed out within 24 hours when you’re taking 3 orders a day. When that number scales up to 30, or 300, how will you maintain your commitment?
Communicate your expectations
It’s fantastic to have a mission statement so moving that it brings tears to the eyes of everyone in the board room, but if your employees aren’t on board, that mission statement isn’t worth the bytes it’s stored on.
When you create branding goals and expectations, you need to clearly communicate them to your employees, and then you need to give your employees the necessary tools to meet your expectations. If you demand that your employees answer each phone call within 60 seconds of the line ringing, but it takes two full minutes for their computer to deliver the necessary information about an incoming call, meeting your expectation will be impossible.
Listen to your employees. They are often the ones on the front line with your customers, and may know better than anything what the customers want to hear and see from the boardroom. Your employees may also have invaluable suggestions about how they can meet—and exceed!—your branding guidelines. Involve them in the process, and be willing to revise your branding goals based on the feedback you receive from those on the front lines.
Invest in your brand
Developing your brand can be one of the most important business decisions you make. Give it the time and attention that it deserves. Really consider what you can do, what you want to be known for, and what you are willing to offer in order to succeed.
No business can succeed without an audience. Your brand is the first thing that will attract their attention. Commit to it so that your customers can commit to you.
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