Imagine your brand as a person. What would his hairstyle be? Which type of clothes would she wear and how would she outshine the rest? Would this image fit with what you’re trying to sell? Would you take this person home to meet your mother?
The answer to all these questions lays in you brand. The brand is the most important asset a business can own, from a sole proprietor all the way up the scale to a multi-national corporation. The brand is the heart and soul of any product. It is the essence and personality that will set it apart from the competitors that are similar or even identical in function. It can even help you beat competitors who are of superior quality!
Listen to this story:
Peter (one of a set of identical twins) is a regular in the local pub. Beer in hand he walks up to Susan. He’s had an eye on her for a while now.
He starts talking to her about his job, his car, rugby and everything else that interests him. He regards himself as a very attractive guy. He definitely has everything a man should have.
Even though he has been careful to flatter her, she still avoids eyes contact and keeps her body slightly turned away. He notices this and starts speaking louder, trying to get her full attention. Now she is not only bored, but also embarrassed to be seen in his company.
He excuses himself to go to the loo and she escapes to a different chair. What a relief!
Just then she spots Peter approaching again, but he sees her before she can duck. Oh no!
Only when he starts talking to her she realizes that it’s not Peter at all, but his twin, Mark. Mark is very interested in this beautiful girl and asks her about herself. He gives her honest compliments and talks about what interests her. In no time he gets her to laugh and she also asks him about his likes and dislikes.
It did not take them very long to get married and have five beautiful children.
And Peter? He is still at the pub twice a week and believes that he has everything a guy should have. Except a beautiful girlfriend,that is.
Is your brand acting like Peter or Mark? What do you need to do to get the girl?
If you’re not sure what your brand is, you will never know why people dislike (or like) it. And if you don’t know how to talk to your target market you will not be able to convince them to like your brand.
Here are a few hints for small business owners and managers to give their brand space to develop:
- Your brand is distinct from you and your business. Entrepreneurs and small business owners often confuse the two. Be systematic in your analysis of what your brand can mean for your target market. Then decide which aspects of the brand to emphasize to maximize its value as a business asset.
- If you don’t pro-actively influence the content of your brand, you’re leaving it entirely up to consumers to shape through their perceptions and uncontrolled brand experiences. The perception of your brand is made up by the total of all your clients’ impressions from all their interactions with you and your product. Everything leaves an impression: from encounters with sales and reception staff to the brand name or the context in which the logo is seen.
- Remember your brand is targeted at your clientele and is not for your own consumption. You are not necessarily representative of your target audience. Put your own preferences aside when judging the brand applications and imagery. Get to know the preferences of your target market as well as you can.
- Stick to the strategic brand decisions you’ve made. Once you’ve decided on a direction for the brand, follow that unapologetically and without second-guessing. If your plan for the brand is based on solid research and market insights, trust it!
- Be consistent and align all the channels, suppliers and stakeholders with your brand plan. If the one hand is unaware of what the other is doing for and with the brand, this can lead to clashing brand experiences. This, in turn, will undermine the integrity perception of the brand and damage consumers’ brand trust.
* An Afrikaans version of this post can be read here.