Do You Have a Brand Strategy?
Do you know where your brand is going? Probably not. Buy I can assure you that you have a brand, whether you know it or not. All you have to do is interact with the public and you have a brand. The difference is you just aren’t managing it very well and the result probably isn’t what you’d like it to be.
That brand, for what it’s worth, is being built (or destroyed with every contact that you have with your customers. Of course the big ones make a big difference, like the sales transactions themselves. But there’s a bunch more stuff that counts too. Like in-coming phone calls, advertising, business cards, websites, on-hold messages,clean or dirty bathrooms, the clothes you’re wearing, social media posts and a bazillion other things that may not seem to count. But they do! And that tattoo on your left arm? That counts. They’re all drops into that branding bucket of yours and just one bad one can contaminate the whole bucket.
A lot of people brag that their brand is good PR, or a good image. But you know what it really is? It’s what they’re saying about you behind you’re back. It’s the relationship you have with those folks. It’s whether you have a “good name” or a “bad name”.
So, if your brand is such an intangible thing, how can you determine the status of that brand, and, more importantly, how can you manage it without a bunch of research? As a small business, you probably can’t.
What Can You Do?
So, the first thing to do is look inside. It’s really difficult for many companies to go develop a consistent brand strategy, because they really don’t know what their company is all about to begin with. For example, in one sentence, can you tell me what your company does? If you can’t do that, you probably aren’t doing a very good job of projecting a consistent brand story with your marketing and what you do day in and day out.
Next, ask your customers what they think. If they don’t give you the same answer, you have a problem. That means it’s time to add a little focus to your efforts and the story you’re telling about your business.
Now this doesn’t have to be a complicated issue. It’s actually better if you just keep it simple. Just start with that simple sentence tells what your brand is about. And then just go back to that sentence anytime you do something that’s business-related. Of course, that means everything. Period. Those little baby steps? They all add up.
That brand that you’re trying to build? It shows up everywhere. Everything your business does. For example, if you’re trying to build a luxury brand and you launch a 99 cent sale. Now does that really make any sense? You’ve just destroyed your brand. On the flip side of that coin, if you’re a budget destination and you try to introduce high-end luxury amenities, that diversion just put the brakes on your whole story.
The obvious place where you see your brand develop, one way or the other, is in your marketing. All of that advertising and promotional stuff should be consistent and follow the brand story and guidelines. Banks shouldn’t use a Comic Sans font, and a car wash shouldn’t use black and grey on their signage. What are people thinking, sometimes?
But the biggest opportunity to build your brand is in your customer experience. If the snazzy marketing that brought them in the door doesn’t match up with what they find when they get there, you’ve just wasted your time and all your money. It ain’t going to work!
And, for crying out loud, show your marketing to your employees and explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. They’re the ones who will make it all work. Or maybe not.
What s your brand strategy? Are you getting anywhere? Are you a good story-teller?
About the Author:
Gordon Conner is a Marketing & Branding Consultant/Coach who helps build WOW brands for small local businesses. He has been providing advertising, marketing, branding and copywriting services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more atwww.BranWorks.com