Every year, Fortune 500 companies battle it out with each other, spending millions on research, brand positioning and advertising to support their brands. A huge investment in this hyper-competitive battlefield often has little effect on market share any more.
But a modest investment in your branding can translate into a huge market advantage.
Most of your competitors have weak, under-developed, or nearly invisible brands. That gives you a big opportunity to tap into virgin territory.
What exactly is a brand?
First, here’s what its not:
It’s not your products.
It’s not your list of features and benefits.
It’s not your mission statement.
It’s not your buildings, assets or Intellectual Property.
It’s not really your logo or your signage, either.
Nope. Your brand exists in your customers' minds: It’s the sum of perceptions and feelings they have about your company. Or as author Marty Neumeier says, it’s the gut feeling people have about your company.
How do you turn that into a profitable advantage? By unifying your communications and your company’s operations around a guiding principle that's simple and memorable. It’s about being known for what your ideal customers care about the most. This is often referred to as Brand Positioning.
What brand positioning does for you
It gives you an advantage over competitors—because it creates a consistently compelling reasons for your best customers to buy
It creates a strong impression in your customers’ minds—because it creates a hook to remember you by
It rallies your whole company around a unifying principle—because your employees yearn for something that gives them a sense of purpose
It allows you to charge more for your products or services—because an established brand has a higher perceived value
It enables a higher ROI on marketing activities—because you don’t reinvent the wheel with every new communication
It increases the bottom-line value of your company—because a strong brand attracts new customers and repels challengers
Have you ever said to yourself…
“What is all this branding crap? If I build a good product and tell people all about it, they’ll buy, right?”
Wrong. This notion is built on two flawed assumptions:
1: Customers care more about your product or service than they do about themselves
2: Their purchasing decisions are based mostly on rational analysis
Truth is, customers don’t care about what your product does. They care about what it does for them. It’s the job of your brand positioning to make this clear and memorable because customers are focused on themselves.
Prospects don’t use logic to decide what they want to buy. They use it to rationalize buying what they crave. You have greater sales success when you connect with customers' feelings. Because when you stimulate their desires, you’ll have the attention you need to make a sale.
Four steps to a stronger brand
Discover what consistently motivates your ideal customers to do business with you, and boil it down to one simple idea. Connect it to the particulars of what you do for them.
Create a verbal and visual theme different enough that you won’t be confused with any other company. Then turn it into a mantra that’s easy to say and remember. Dramatize it with a consistent attitude, images, colors and design elements.
Employ a Style Guide to make sure your brand theme is used uniformly across your communications. Because if you don’t have a set of guidelines, how can you be consistent?
Bring your brand to life by delivering your products and services in a way that proves what you claim. Your company’s culture needs to be in alignment with your brand. Because all the marketing in the world won’t help if you don’t back it up with actions.
Would you like to find out what it takes to build a magnetic brand? Please get in touch.