Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Georgie Gallagher, Enjoy!
Every business has a brand – even if it thinks it doesn’t.
Your local coffee shop has a brand. Your local accountant has a brand. Your local vet has a brand. And your business has a brand.
I can see you rolling your eyes. Isn’t branding just a lot of 90’s marketing hype? Does a brand really matter in today’s world?
Yes, your brand does matter. In fact, it matters a lot. Why? Because in a world where we’re bombarded by thousands of messages a day, your business needs to stand for something to set it apart from the pack. What’s more, understanding your brand means that you control how people experience your business. This is your brand, and you’re in the driving seat.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s begin by understanding what a brand is.
What is a brand?
Here’s what it’s not. It’s not your brand name. It’s not your registered trademark. And it’s not your great logo you spent $10,000 on. It’s much more than that.
I love this definition by the father of branding, Al Ries. It’s stayed with me through the years while working with B2B and B2C clients.
“A successful branding program is based on the concept of singularity. It creates in the mind of the prospect the perception that there is no product on the market quite like your product.” – Al Ries
I like to think of it as that little piece of someone’s mind that you own – it’s all that person’s collective thoughts and experiences that pop up when they think of your business. We have the same process when we think of people. Some people make us happy. Some challenge us. Some are downright annoying. You want your brand to be one of the good guys.
Your brand is the look and feel of your business. It’s how people experience you as a company. It’s your promise to people – a kind of silent understanding about what you’ll deliver when you do business with them. And it helps create your unique identity.
But aren’t brands just for big business?
Take the café that’s buzzing. It’s interesting. The guy taking orders gives you a great smile and good-humoredly banters with you. The girl making coffee is an artisan at her craft. Everyone’s busy. The tables are packed but clean. The service is fast and fun. There’s atmosphere. There are great magazines. There are quirky and fun things to look at. And you feel like you’re a part of something special, part of a club.
What you don’t necessarily realize is that this is all crafted as part of a well-orchestrated brand.
These guys know exactly what they stand for – great coffee, great food and great service in a fun, quirky atmosphere that people just love. EVERYTHING in their business is about delivering on this brand promise. From the quirky service and funky music tracks to the handwritten thank you with a chocolate-coated coffee bean on your bill, every detail has been attended to and shapes your experience.
Building your brand
So how can you go about creating your unique brand? What’s your business’s unique stamp on the world? How are you going to build a business that gets talked about and referred?
Here are four guiding questions that may help you develop your brand.
What are the real benefits of dealing with you? Do you deliver anything unique or special? Is there something over and above your competitors that you could offer? I’m looking for REAL benefits here. Think like your client or customer – why are they using you?
What’s your brand style? Are you professional, aspirational, quirky, fun, friendly or something else? How can you deliver this style with every client interaction and communication offline and online?
What are your brand values? You may value professionalism, the environment, people, your community or something else. How will your business live up to these values? How will this alter your clients’ experience with you? Be honest and true. Today’s social media savvy consumers will not tolerate falsehoods.
What is your essence? What is your reason for being? Why does your business exist? This is the toughest question you can ask business owners. But if you can nail this, you really do have a driving force that can shape your entire business offering. It’s a very powerful thing.
Once you answer these questions, then you need to work out how you can deliver and create a seamless brand experience.
There are some fantastic ideas on delivering on a brand promise for a huge variety of businesses in this eBook created by some very clever marketers at Duct Tape Consulting – download it now.
Until next time…
Georgie Gallagher is the founder of Wildmoon, a specialist consultancy focusing on brand development, marketing strategy, marketing communications and strategic content marketing for SMB’s. Georgie’s a Duct Tape Marketing consultant and a CPM of the Australian Marketing Institute.
Like this article? Follow her on her blog here, or connect with her via Twitter or LinkedIn.