This past week I spent a few days in Colorado working with a group of business owners on issues of brand building and acquiring new customers. I thought the material might apply to some of my other business owner friends.
Overwhelmingly it was clear that there was some confusion about important nuances regarding how and why they needed to manage their business brand.
First, I clarified the definition of “brand”.
A brand is NOT a logo, name or tagline.
Those are called your identity or image.
I followed up by explaining the difference between brand awareness vs strength.
Brand awareness means that I know who you are.
Brand strength means that I know who you are, I have experienced your services and I either liked it or not.
Just because I’ve seen your ads all over town, if I’ve never actually been in your establishment or eaten your food or experienced your staff, you have no brand strength with me – just awareness.
This is important to those who think that a brand is built in their advertising, website or promotions. It is not. It is built within the customer experience of your service.
The brand is your reputation. It’s what people think about you after they have experienced your services. You will either have a positive or negative reputation, depending on how you manage that experience.
The beautiful thing is that you can control that experience and thus control your brand reputation.
For business owners with a physical location this includes everything from the parking lot, to the lobby, to the person at the front desk, to the atmosphere, to the check out and even to the thank you card you should send them a week later.
If you’re self employed, your personality becomes your brand. So your dress, attitude and the smile on your face is important.
Combined these things become your brand and if you manage them with the intention of a positive experience, you should end up with a positive brand.
One thing is for certain, you are going to have a brand whether you want one or not. It will either be good, fair or bad – it’s up to you.
As to the value of having a strong, positive brand, well, think about the brands that are extremely positive in your life and how much more you’re willing to pay to have them. Food, clothes, amusement parks, doctors, dentists and financial advisors all demand a premium price (and get it) only because they manage their brand reputation.
Employees carry their personal brand reputation from one job to the next.
This is also the reason your business will have more value when it comes time to sell.
So for all the time you spend thinking about and managing various elements of your business, it could be well worth it to make “branding” a line item.
Start by writing down what you think you want that brand “reputation” to be. And then circle back around to all the areas where you touch your customers and see if it’s reflecting that image.