Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a very insightful brand presentation by Marty Neumeier, author of many great books, including The Brand Gap, Zag and The Brand Flip. Marty is the one who coined the often-quoted phrase, “your brand is not what you say it is. It is what they say it is.” He’s right.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any influence over what they say. Spending valuable time defining your brand and managing the communication of that brand, will go a long way to getting ‘them’ say what you want them to say.
Brands are not the sole domain of large multi-national businesses. If you are starting a business, it makes commercial sense to put some serious thought into your brand.
Here are five reasons why defining your brand is good for business.
1. Defining your brand provides focus
When starting a new business, there are plenty of ‘shiny things’ vying for your attention, and your money. Software packages that promise to simplify your world. Online marketing deals promising you clicks through to your website. Business advisers and training courses claiming to transform your sales. TV and radio stations guaranteeing eyes and ears. Newspapers and magazines claiming to have your target audience’s attention. SEO, social media channels, exhibitions and events, affiliate marketing. The list is endless.
All so tempting. Where do you start? Where do you stop?
Once you have defined your brand, you will have a much better idea of whether those temptations are 'on brand' or 'off brand'. If they are 'on brand’, then they are worth considering. If, on the other hand, they are 'off brand' then you should steer clear.
I get some of my clients to create an 'on brand' checklist, to check any activities they are considering fulfil a list of ‘on brand’ criteria.
So, the investment you make in defining your brand soon repays itself many times over, by saving you time, money and effort on things that aren't going to work for your business.
2. Defining your brand gets employees on board
If you have already or are thinking about taking on your first employees, it’s worth considering that the people within your organisation are usually the DNA that makes your business unique. Involving them in everything you do will make your company better.
“Research indicates that workers have three prime needs: interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.”
Defining your brand and communicating it with everyone within the business provides employees with an understanding of what you want to achieve, the direction on how you plan to achieve it and the motivation to achieve it with you.
Defining your brand is also good for HR. It will help the business retain staff, attract new talent and create a stronger sense of community.
Take your employees on the journey with you. You never know, they may even lead the way.
If they are shown the moves and taught the words, your employees will become the cheerleaders for your business.
3. Defining your brand gives you consistency
Unlike the big multi-nationals, your exposure to your customers is probably minimal. So, it is essential that when your customers see you, they are given the same experience every time.
Defining your brand will help you tell your story. Combine consistent brand messages and storytelling with consistent visual branding and customers will find it much easier to recognise what you do and what you stand for.
If your target audience becomes familiar with your brand, you will need to spend less money getting them to recognise you in the crowd of messages they are exposed to every day.
Familiarity also breeds trust. When something becomes more familiar to somebody, they are more likely to trust it. And that trust is the biggest reason people cite when they talk about their favourite brands.
“If people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
4. Defining your brand creates confidence
Defining your brand is all about giving you, and your customers, confidence.
Understanding who they are, and why they should be interested in what you have to offer, is a valuable exercise. It will give you the confidence that you a saying the right things to the right people.
You will deliver conversations with customers, presentations in client pitches, elevator pitches at networking events and posts on social media with confidence and consistency.
And, confidence is infectious. If you have more confidence in your business’ brand, your customers will have more confidence in your brand too.
Confident customers are more likely to buy from you, more likely to want to come back and buy from you again and again and, ultimately, be prepared to pay more for what you offer.
5. Defining your brand turns customers into advocates
I have saved the best until last.
The best reason for creating a brand is that people get passionate about brands. Creating a brand will help customers to fall in love with you. And what do people do when they are in love? They gush!
People in love can’t stop talking about the object of that love. To their friends, their work colleagues, on social media channels. Basically, to anyone who will listen.
Passionate consumers become active referrers, doing the hard work of selling your business to new customers for you. Word of mouth is more effective than other forms of marketing.
I started with a couple of quotes, so I would like to finish with a couple.
“A customer talking about their experience with you is worth ten times that which you write or say about yourself.”
“If you want your brand to benefit from word of mouth, you’d better give consumers something worth talking about.”
That’s exactly what defining your brand does!
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