Do You Have a Brand Strategy?
Your business may not have a brand strategy, but if you interact with the public, you have a brand. The question is whether that brand is being actively managed or if it’s just occurring on it’s own.
That brand is built (or destroyed) with each and every interaction between you and your customers. The big ones count, of course, like the actual sales transactions. But there are many other brand interactions such as inbound phone calls, all advertising, business cards, web sites, on-hold messages, how clean your bathrooms are, what your employees are wearing, social media posts, and a thousand other things that may seem inconsequential. Even that tattoo on your left forearm. But they’re all tiny drops into the branding bucket and one bad drop can contaminate the whole bucket.
A lot of people refer to their “brand” as having good PR. But your brand really is what your customers say about you behind your back. It’s the relationship you have with your current and potential market. It’s the intangible measure of “your good name”.
So since a brand is this intangible thing, how can you gauge the current status of your brand and start actively managing your brand without an expensive market research campaign? Most small businesses can’t.
What Does Your Company Do?
So, the first step is to look inward. It’s sometimes hard for business owners to develop a consistent brand strategy because they have never really defined what their business is all about in the first place. Can you tell me what your company does in one simple sentence? If you can’t, you’re probably not projecting a consistent brand message through marketing and daily operations.
The next step is to ask your customers and prospects the same question. If their answer doesn’t match yours, then you have a problem. You need to add focus to your brand strategy and messaging.
A brand strategy doesn’t have to be a complex thing. I think it actually works better the more simple it is. Build upon that simple sentence of what your brand represents, and reference it every time you do anything related to the business. And I mean anything. All those small drops add up.
The brand shows up in every aspect of a business. For example: If you’re trying to build a premium brand and you launch a 99 cent sale when times are tough, you’ve sent conflicting brand messages and destroyed all that you’ve built. Conversely, if you’re a budget destination and are trying to sell expensive upgrades, that pricing decision detracts from the big picture.
The easy place to see branding is in your outbound marketing. All advertising and communications should consistently conform to the brand standards. A bank shouldn’t use the Comic Sans font on their statements. A car wash shouldn’t use gray and black on their external signage.
But the single biggest opportunity for brand development is in customer experience. If the marketing that brings them in the door doesn’t match what they find when they get in the door, you’ve wasted your time and money.
And, most importantly, share your brand vision with your employees. They’re the ones who will make it happen, or not.
What is the image that your brand is conveying?
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 and branding and services for 40 years and lives in Midlothian, Virginia. He can be reached at Gordon@BranWorks.com, or read more at www.BranWorks.com