Figuring out your brand can be daunting. It can be scary to look at your business – and I mean REALLY look at it. If you're not sure if you're heading down the right road, there are some universal branding truths that will help steer you in the right direction. Don't worry, Branding & Beyond's got you!
Branding Truth 1
No one cares about your baby
I get it. You created it. You love it. You staffed it. You grew it. You love your baby. You love what you do. Do other people care? Probably not.
Everyone has at least one of those friends on Facebook/Instagram who shares photos of their babies. Every. Single. Update. is a picture of their kid doing something mundane. Oh, look! Billy learned how to go potty today. Wow!
REALLY. Does anyone other than the kid's parents actually care?
No. Friends and family might be polite and say ‘well done' on Amy's latest amazing trip to the playground, but they really don't care!
People view your company in the same light. They don't care about what you're saying, they care about what you can do for them.
To misquote genius economist Theodore Levitt, clients aren't buying the drill they're buying the hole.
A good brand not only convinces customers that their hole will be the best they'll ever drill, but it also sells them the idea of the screws they're gonna put in those holes. Then it tells them about those amazing shelves they're gonna hang onto those screws. And think of all that storage created – and the amazing amount of space they'll save. And then, how much better will their life be without all that chaotic mess just lying around the place – and all because of the drill you sold them and the holes they created with it.
Your company must solve a problem for your target audience – and they need to know about it.
Branding Truth 2
Fear of leaving money on the table will cost your company even more than turning away business
OK, one of the worst things you can possibly do is try to please everyone.
You need to specialize. Niche. Get your target audience defined.
Stop offering to provide services on the edge of what you do. Focus on what you do best.
The worst thing a company can be is a generalist. Do you want to be profitable? Do you want your name to be memorable? Specialize. Focus. Niche.
Someone playing hardball before even handing over a penny? Are they demanding such a good ‘deal' that you can't even make a profit on it? NEXT! You do NOT need to please everyone. Don't start a working relationship off with resentment. Starting off on the wrong foot with each other is not going to result in a happy partnership in the future.
A well-crafted brand appeals to your target audience, gives them a sense of your company values, and lets them know if you are meant for them.
Branding Truth 3
Consistency builds brands
Once you know who you serve and what you stand for (and what you'll put up with!), you need to deliver an authentic brand experience. The secret to an authentic brand experience? Consistency.
A consistent brand experience puts makes you trustworthy in the eyes of your customer. They know what to expect from you. They know that no matter who they speak to in the company, they'll get the same level of customer service.
Knowing that you'll always be there, doing what's best for them, means customers will keep choosing you over a new brand that pops up overnight – no matter how polished their marketing materials are.
Keep in mind that brand consistency isn't about sticking to the same thing – it also requires constant evolution. Pay attention to customer trends – is everyone coming in looking for a certain product? Is an old service not popular anymore? Update your services and products, while staying true to your brand's values.
Simply put, stay consistent by staying relevant.
Branding Truth 4
The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago… or today
A year from now, don’t wish you would have started today… start today.
Your company is no place for ‘Shoulda, woulda, coulda'.
If you’ve let your brand go stale over the years, THAT'S OK. We are here to help. Don’t beat yourself up about it, we all start somewhere. Our team will meet you where you are with zero judgment and a plan to get you where you want to be.
Today is better than tomorrow to address issues in the business. Don't waste time feeling guilty or dwelling on the past. The past is the past and it can't be changed.
Do you know what can be changed?
Your company's future.
So, get started. Now!
Branding Truth 5
Clarity can turn your business around
Getting clarity on what you do, why you do it, and how you do it is like stepping out from under a storm cloud into a beautiful sunny field full of trees that grow money.
Focusing on your company's core values, what's important to you, and your plans for the future will give you a clear sense of purpose and guide moving forward. You're not going to be blindly jumping onto the latest fad, waste money committing random acts of marketing, or make decisions that ruffle your team.
Knowing what is off-brand and what is on-brand brings clarity.
With clarity on your business, you'll have a clear path going forward – making it easier to keep your customers happy, your team in sync, and keep cash coming in the door.
Branding Truth 6
Branding happens from the inside out – we're not here to wallpaper
It's easy to scribble out a new logo and say you've ‘rebranded’. Just like painting your front door is not remodeling. Updating your logo and color palette is not a rebrand. This is surface pretty-making.
Don’t wallpaper over problems in your business – you wouldn't build a house on a cracked foundation.
Start your branding investment right – by deep diving into what makes your company unique. What's the driving force behind what you do? Who are your customers? What issues are you solving for them? What goodies do you have that your competitors don’t … it might not be obvious to you, but they are there. We haven’t found a company yet that didn’t have hidden gems.
A great way to start the branding process is to figure out your 3 core statements:
- Your vision statement – this is what we are going to become.
- Your mission statement – this is how we are going to do it.
- Your brand statement – this is a short paragraph written in the words a customer would use if you overhead them describing your product/service to another person, and they got it exactly right.
Branding Truth 7
People power brands
A great company, name, logo, presence, message, and communication channels are essential for your brand's success – but nothing can beat having your own team of brand ambassadors.
Ready to promote you at every chance, your brand ambassadors truly believe in your core values, your service, and well, your brand. Brand ambassadors should include owners, staff, and happy customers.
When you work hard on-brand messaging, dedication and commitment inside the company customer understanding, enthusiasm, and commitment follow.
Get your brand right, the first time. It’s time to get down to the core of what makes your company great and shout it from the rooftops. Let's do this!
Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond
Tracy and her team help B2B firms in the construction industry and professional services look and sound credible online and off.
She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of great companies being treated as commodities and competing on price because they don't look and sound as credible as they really are.
You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.