Having a brand mindset is a key business strategy available to everyone regardless of business size.
Branding isn’t about having a pretty website and a fancy business card. And it isn’t your logo. (If you’re new here, we’ve covered this before, check out this Branding 101)
Branding isn’t a set it and forget it kind of deal (guess what, we covered that too, in this blog about brand decay).
A brand is the definition people hold in their minds about your company and the products/services it offers. It’s a collection of emotions, senses, and memories. It’s how and where your company gets filed away in memory of your prospects, clients, employees, etc. In its simplest form, it is what you are known for. It is your reputation.
Branding is the intentional and strategic shaping of what people think and experience with your company’s products and services. It is the action of strategically applying your brand personality to everything you do.
To get branding right (and to get the most out of yours), you have to embrace a brand mindset. With a brand mindset, your brand will grow and improve alongside your business.
Wait, what is a brand mindset?
A brand mindset is knowing that the development of a successful brand is never complete. Your brand should be thought of as a living, breathing part of your company that needs to be monitored and nurtured to grow and evolve with your company. It is intentional and strategic.
A brand mindset is a growth mindset.
- Do we think like people who are building a brand?
- Do we consider the benefits or ramifications to the brand when we make big decisions for the company?
- Are we using our brand as a guide or filter for what we should be doing and not doing?
- Are we consistent within the company, internally and externally, on how we talk about and live up to the ideals our brand stands for?
- Have we funded (financial, mental, person-power) the initiative to update and maintain our brand and branding?
- If we wanted to sell this business, would it be priced based on hard assets only or a demonstratable reputation and authority we have built in the market?
Many companies are focused on selling the thing they do. Trying to get the word out without spending much time on what the word should be—finding new products/services to sell. Do not think about how disjointed this all may be for your internal team and the clients you are trying to attract.
Brand truth: clients are attracted to clarity and repelled by confusion.
Our brands are vital aspects of our companies. It’s almost like a living, breathing part of who our business is, what we stand for, and what value we create for whom. When nourished correctly, it’ll grow alongside us and provide us with the ultimate support.
Our brand finally becomes something more than words, color, and pretty pictures.
It becomes our identity.
People like to see businesses improve, upgrade, and innovate. The more your clients, and your audience, see you do just that, the more effective your marketing will be.
What you sell on the surface (products and service-wise) isn’t what they are buying — they’re buying an outcome, a desired future state. They want to know you are damned good at what you do, and you have a process/method to give them what they are seeking. They want to know you are the right choice. You are the least risky choice. And they would be crazy not to hire you.
You may be thinking that your business isn’t sexy, and you offer the same thing that many of your competitors do. You feel a bit like a commodity, competing on price.
Hear me when I say this if you have repeat and referral business, there is something there worth branding. I have not met a company that didn’t have goodies to combine to create a strong position in their market.
Many companies who do take the time to create their brand think they are done and set it aside, only to have it decay over time and not be aligned with the company as it grows and evolves. A mindset shift is required to end the cycle of build, ignore, tear down, and start over.
What life is like without a brand mindset
Honestly? Hard work.
Without a defined brand strategy (the rules and guidelines on how, what, where, when, and to whom you should communicate your brand message), brand messaging, and visual identity, you will be starting from scratch with every marketing campaign, proposal, and sales pitch.
Building your brand and the necessary branded sales tools takes time, effort, and let’s not beat around the bush here – money.
By having a setting-it-and-forgetting-it mindset, you take this valuable asset you created and put it in the corner to gather dust and decay. You have robbed it of the opportunity to evolve and grow with your company – which means it’s no longer fit for purpose.
Brand truth: brand building is not relegated to Fortune 1000 companies or “packaged goods.” It is a thought process and a key business strategy available to you, no matter the size company you own.
And you are back at where you began, amazing on the inside but from the outside looking like the firm you were when the branding work was done. This is a terrible waste of time and money.
This is how amazing companies become accidental commodities. Everyone has to work harder to overcome the outdated messaging that is on the website, portfolio, brochure, proposals, and presentations.
Your competitors LOVE that you ignore your brand and branding. They want you to keep it up.
How does a brand mindset improve a company?
When you’re in the brand mindset, your brand grows with you, who you are as a company shines through, and attracts the clients you want to work with. Your brand works like a magnet. Ideal clients see and feel you are the one for them – they are attracted. Non-ideal clients who are not a fit for your company are repelled.
Keeping your brand updated alongside your business means:
- You view your website as your digital headquarters, one that represents you 24/7/365
- Your website is never complete; you keep it up to date and aligned with the company
- You have a long-game mindset by building authority through adding to your blog
- You have a plan and regularly post on relevant social media platforms
- Your company has a point of view that you express
- You have solid core values that you live by, hire by and maintain
- You keep your messaging and visual identity consistent online and off
- You remove anything that is no longer relevant to your company’s current direction
- You continually strive for clarity, consistency, and having a robust and trustworthy brand
By keeping your online and in-person branding on-point, clients, prospects, and your whole team will be on the same page.
With every part of your business following the same branding guidelines, you’re presented as consistent and professional. People will know what to expect from you – and they’ll actively seek you out as a result.
By being in the right brand mindset, you’ll provide your business development and sales team with tools that make their jobs easier. Everything is infused with your brand personality, and it is focused on the client and their needs. No more blah, blah, blah, all about us, messaging.
Say goodbye to confused customers who don’t really understand what you do. They can see and feel you were built for them. You are not interchangeable with other firms in your category. You have an authentic brand that they want to work with.
How to adopt a brand mindset
Commit yourself and your company that you will spend the time to find the brand that lives within your firm and create a strategy for your brand that encompasses your business goals.
Your company is going to see your brand as the company’s spine. It’s strength and foundation. It’s the answer to “Why should I hire you.”
Keep your brand and what it stands for, and why it was built, front and center in everything you do.
Your brand is one of your most valuable assets – maintain it, let it grow.
Update your branding with every major change that happens in your company. Be sure to let your entire team know when you’ve updated your branding so they can stay on top of how they should market the business and interact with potential clients.
The more you build up and nurture your brand, the more your potential clients will seek you out and want to work with you.
If you start building up your brand, only to ignore it and tear it down again, you will leave yourself and your company vulnerable. And by this, I mean, open to disruption, being bypassed and/or ignored because you are outdated, bland, boring, or just downright confusing.
Remember, you can either be a commodity, fighting over low prices, or you can be a brand that’s valuable in the eyes of its customers – and get paid what you’re worth.
Ready to get the brand your company deserves?
Here at Branding & Beyond, we help business owners bring clarity and consistency to everything their clients see. Our specialty is uncovering the brand that is hidden under years of neglect. All without judgment because we’ve been here too. We get that you’ve been busy, and this isn’t your core competency.
We create custom brand strategies that work for your business. Our team will build a robust and powerful brand for your company and help you get into the headspace of maintaining it internally or with our help. Get into the brand mindset – get in touch today.
An oldie but a goodie – Seth Godin: “No one wants to be average.”
Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond
Tracy and her team help firms in and around the B2B building trades look and sound credible online and off.
She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of seeing fantastic firms struggle, blend in, and get bypassed by prospects who judge them solely on the outdated information found online.
Branding & Beyond's mission is to solve real business problems and build the brand foundation clients need to get noticed and hired.
You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.