Branding Increases Buy-In

Here are branding tips from our April 2010 Friday Forum. Thanks to Brenton Schmidt of MFX Partners for his ideas and input on this topic.

What is “branding” all about?
• Used to mean the actual mark of ownership to help farmers identify their livestock.
• Now means how how people experience you and your company. In other words, order ed the collective associations, find meanings, medical and reputation of your company, product, or service in the minds of the public, your customers, your suppliers, and your employees.
• Your brand is the outward representation of the underlying identity of your business.
• Your brand is carried forward through your marketing strategies and tactics that create your customer experience.
• Remember: Branding before marketing saves you time, energy, and money by providing a clear framework for all of your various marketing efforts.

What concrete steps should I take to develop my personal or business brand?
• Define what your company is all about: its vision, values, mission and goals.
• Consider how you want people to experience you and/or your company. Everything communicates.
Positioning: Decide what your brand stands for, what business you are in, what you care about.
Promise: Determine what your customer gets out of a relationship with you, the big benefit or expected outcome. Consider both functional and emotional promises.
Personality: Pull together the style with which you communicate your promise. Shapes, colours, images, dress – all tell your story and are informed by your business vision, goals and customer needs.
Experience: Shape brand experiences for your customers using all the above components.
Evaluation: Constantly check with your target market /“tribe” to ensure that the experience you have created is meeting their needs. Continue to refine, deliver, and measure on a regular basis.

Why is it important to get my brand clear before I grow my business or seek a different job?
• Builds the perception of your value and worth in the marketplace, and makes you feel more confident.
• Helps you target the right customers or employers.
• Makes it easier for you to attract business, since people have a clear idea of what you’re all about.
• Saves you money, since you can target your marketing efforts much more efficiently.

How can a strong brand help me develop a marketing pipeline – to ensure a constant stream of new clients and customers in my business?
• Define who you love to work with, and can’t wait to serve.
• Meet them in every way possible through face-to-face networking, mail-outs, online communities, email etc.
• Provide continuous high value according to what they need. Aim to fulfill, surprise and delight them with your product or service.
• Build and carefully maintain your contact database.
• Stay in touch via email, events, polls, groups, social media.
• Upsell to this audience so you don’t have to continually spend money to increase revenue.
• Attend their events and networking opportunities to meet new potential customers.
• Create special offers and upgrades to maintain loyalty and interest.

What are some common pitfalls or mistakes to avoid in the branding process?
• Fear of standing out is the biggest barrier. The strongest brands are fearless.
• Don’t think your brand has to be perfect before you can start or grow your business. Brands evolve over time.
• Not looking at the competition. Checking out competition helps identify gaps your business can fill.
• Being too vague or “catchy” in your in your promise. Be clear first and catchy second.
• Not defining a clear enough target market. You can’t serve everyone equally.

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