Does it seem to you that over the past five years you’ve suddenly heard the word “brand” popping up everywhere. Not so much about products or companies. Only brands. Is branding something new? Which one will give me the better and faster return for my dollars?
First, brands are not new. Think cows in a pasture. Remember seeing Brand X stamped on a herd? (if only in an old movie). A farmer marked X on his cows so that when he took them to sell at the town market, he wouldn’t lose track of which were his and income. Fast forward and today there are millions upon millions of “cows” out there that may seem to look and be a lot like each other competing for our attention. More media outlets and the internet have forever changed how as consumers we get to hear about, pick and buy what we purchase. Twenty four hours a day. So how do you tell one product or service from the next? What makes you choose? That is where branding begins. And for smart companies including small business owners and Fortune 500’s I’ve had the good fortune to work with, the “X” is in fact only the beginning. And the first step in marketing.
Here are a few tips and thoughts about branding and marketing and how they may work best for you:
l. First: knowing your brand is the fastest way to your business success. It’s more than your logo. It is also the most cost effective, powerful tool in your marketing kit. And the one many companies, big and small often skip over. And then they run into trouble.
2. Branding is emotions and reason and understanding customers, and knowing what makes you meaningfully different from the others. You may not be the first or the cheapest or the most or least expensive. But how do customers feel about you? Do they trust you? What do they need that you are supplying them with? From advice to entertainment to arm chairs.
3. Your brand effects every other area of your marketing and business from the visuals that you use to the products you create to how you treat your customers and any employees you may have to ultimately your bottom line.
4. Discover what makes you or your product or service meaningfully unique not only to you but most importantly to THEM and you will discover your audience is looking for you!
5. If your existing business has been successful and now the sales are sluggish even though you’ve poured thousands into your website and visuals and product development, look first to your brand strategy. What was your original vision? Could it need some revisiting? Do you have a brand strategy? Have you ever? What is it?
6. Think through and get some outside help about what makes you or your product or service meaningfully unique not only to you but most importantly to THEM and you will discover your audience is looking for you!
7. Do the hard work of looking deep into the soul of your brand if you want to touch the heart of others. That is good branding. Be memorable. You likely already are. Hire a good brand and marketing consultant to get there. I have yet to meet a successful company (including my own) who has figured this stuff out on their own.
8. Then you can wisely choose the other sexier marketing tools right for you from logos to your website and distribution to brochures to PR to advertising to seeing customers coming back over and over again and seeing your profits grow. And you will.