WHAT IS A BRAND?
How can you establish yours?
Everyone has a brand
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, a small local shop, or posting pictures on your personal Instagram. You have a brand.
Brand started with the mark of ownership
Looking back to the origin of the word “brand”, you will find it came from when ranchers would use a hot branding iron to mark their cattle as a means of ownership so the butchers and other ranchers would know whose cattle they were. No one could argue whose they were because they were distinctly marked. This also meant if you knew whose brand it was, you knew where they were from and how they were cared for. In other words, you understood the essential qualities, or brand, of that ranch.
The Brand is the Personality of Your Company
Much like you remember experiences you have had with your friends when you hear their name or see a picture, when someone sees your logo, hears your company name, or uses your product, that person is going to think of your brand.
Your audience is going to remember the experiences they have had with your company and your products. They remember what they saw and smelled, how they felt, the customer service you provided, even the experience of opening the packaging for your product for the first time. Even though it’s something that is very much based on your audience’s experiences with your company, there is a way to direct that outcome.
Establish Your Values and Goals
Do you want to be the coolest place in town? Are you so proud of the quality of your product you’re willing to give it a lifetime warranty? Will you only be satisfied when you are known to provide the best customer service around?
If you’re just starting a business, you have it easy by establishing these values and goals before anyone interacts with your business. It’s important you write them down, print it out and hand it to your employees so they can share the same values with you. Hell, paint it on the wall!
OK, it doesn’t have to be this obvious but decide on a way to make it publicly known.
Remember the last time you went out for dinner and when you were handed the check holder, there was a comment card asking how they did? It can be something simple like that. If you tell your customers your goals and ask them if you’re meeting expectations, they will be willing to provide feedback.
Now, if you have a business that has been around for a while and you already have established your values your customers know you for, that’s great! But if it seems like your customers aren’t experiencing what you were intending, then it’s time to re-evaluate your business and rewrite your values. You might need to have a team meeting to get all of your employees on the same page to turn this thing around. Of course, once you have established your company’s values, it’s time to act on them. Every. Single. Day.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
I won’t say it’s going to be easy, but it is important that you stick to your values and make progress to your goals nonstop. You want to create a consistent brand that is instantly recognizable. You need to prove that you truly believe in your values and are committed to them. For you to prove that your values are important, you need to be transparent.
You can’t say one thing and do another because you will get caught and it will hurt your business.
For example, Volkswagen recently (Fall of 2015) was caught hiding the true efficiency of their vehicles. Now they’re recalling all of their cars and losing a lot of money in fines and lawsuits. Their customers feel cheated and are disappointed in VW for lying. This has made a huge impact on their reputation for being a great car company. It is now seen as a facade and raises questions about other ways they could have been deceiving their customers. Maybe this was the only thing they lied about, but if they would have just been honest, they wouldn’t have been in the mess they’re in now.
You don’t need to be the best out of the gate and don’t say you are when you aren’t. Tell your audience what your goals are and they will be rooting for your success. Remember, your brand is the personality of your company, and much like a human, your business is going to make mistakes. Your customers will be willing to forgive you if you admit your faults. Bring it up and apologize when you find out and fix it. Don’t let people find out for themselves because they will feel like they were lied to.
Taking it Home
Your brand is the personality of your business and establishing your company’s values and goals will help you, as long as you’re transparent and let your actions speak for your goals.
Understanding your brand is a big part of being a successful business. Once you understand your brand, you will be able to better understand the people you are trying to market to: your target audience, which I will cover next week.
Questions to help you understand your own brand
To help you better understand your own brand, here are a list of questions to ask yourself.
- What services or products are you providing?
- What are the problems are you solving?
- What are the needs your audience has?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is the quality of service you provide?
- What makes you different from the competition?
- Why should anyone care about what you do?
- What are your values?
- What kind of experiences do you want to give your audience to have with you?
- Comforting, laughing, crying, exciting?
- Good (customer service), bad, exciting (Disneyland, Pixar), sad (funeral home), expensive (Tiffany), inexpensive (Walmart)
- What is the attitude your company will have
- Fun, energetic, calm, professional
- Easily seen in your customer service – take care of the people who are directly interacting with your customers