What does the word “brand” mean to you? It is one that is often bandied about, but what it actually is and why you actually need one is something which does not get discussed enough.
In its most basic form, your brand is all of the functional and emotional connotations which consumers have of your business. It is the love people feel for Apple, the safety people feel when in a Volvo, and the joy from each McDonalds Happy Meal.
These associations are why having a strong brand is so important to the success of a business. Business coaches will tell you that to get a loyal following (and make more sales), you must illicit a strong connection to individuals (because target markets don’t work).
In the example of Coke it is the difference between selling bottles of sugary carbonated drinks, and giving people happiness.
No matter what stage your business is at, it is important to consider the effect of your brand on your business. Use the questions below to review and develop your brand.
1. What is your business environment?
Before you start developing your own brand, you need to understand the competition and the marketplace. You need to build a solid understanding of the options which your consumers have in the marketplace and from there you can figure out the niche that you should be focused on dominating.
Then you can question why you are running your business – Are you there to challenge the status quo and just be another standard option, or have you identified a niche which has yet to be discovered? These are the first questions to answer in a brand development strategy.
2. What are your core beliefs?
This should encourage you to narrow down your focus and specialise in a single aspect of your product / service offering. What is it that your business will never compromise on?
Just like BMW’s engine quality and performance, you need to know what key idea your business will revolve around. And once that has been established, your branding begins.
Core beliefs should permeate your whole business, no matter how large or small. This does not just mean the sales and marketing messages, but it is also the team you are working with. If your employees do not share / understand the business’ beliefs and core values, you are likely to face serious difficulties in nurturing your brand.
I have seen this in many companies while business coaching in London, where the team they have hired are not fans of the offering, so they cannot pass on any enthusiasm to the customers. This is why we developed a powerful 4-Hour Recruitment Process that lets business owners not only reduce time wastage in recruitment, but also ensures they hire the right kind of superstars to help them further the business and develop the brand.
3. What gives you your edge?
In other words, what is it that you bring to the table which your competitors do not? What is your “Unique Selling Proposition” or USP?
This competitive advantage is the manifestation of your business’ core beliefs. This is the reason why your customers prefer to buy from your brand rather than any other.
However, when choosing the competitive advantage that you will highlight, there are two things to be sure of first:
- Firstly, are you sure that you actually can deliver on your promise of competitive advantage? Many businesses make claims about the superiority of their offering, which they are unable to deliver. This can critically damage any work you have put into your brand strategy. Make sure you do not make promises to your customers which you cannot keep.
- Secondly, is the edge you have actually meaningful to your customers? Your customers won’t care if your car brand has the best sounding horn. When shaping your competitive advantage, choose wisely, and make sure it is relevant to what your audience wants, otherwise you are wasting your time.
4. Who is your target audience?
One of the most important features of creating a successful brand is knowing your ideal audience and catering to their needs. You need your ideal customers to care about your core beliefs and competitive advantage as much as you do.
This is how companies like Apple are able to connect with their consumers at such a deep level – they know who they are talking to. You need to identify that specific person you are talking to – your marketing avatar – and then every message you create should be directed to that person. Businesses operate within their own niches, which means that understanding your specific customer-base is critical.
When you talk about your business’ brand, make sure you understand what that actually means. Your brand is so much more than the products and services you are selling; it is what permeates from your employees, to your offerings, and into the minds of your consumers. To be successful, choose your brand wisely, own it, and deliver your brand promises.
Need help developing your brand?
Book a free strategic review of your business and find out how we can help you see double-digit growth in the next year.