company has a reputation. Everyone you meet will form an opinion about
your company, even if they have not done business with you yet. The challenge
is to manage your reputation so that the opinion that people have of you
is positive. This is what creates a brand.
have a number of strategic
functions, enabling you to:
yourself from your competition
your focused message in the hearts and minds of your target customers
and be consistent in your marketing efforts
your services to reflect your personal brand
your message clearly and quickly
an emotional chord
strong user loyalty
businesses, branding is not about slick advertisements. Small-business
branding is about getting your target market to see you as the preferred
choice. Building a slightly famous brand is not just about what you do;
it's about what you do differently from everyone else.
Building Your Brand
A brand is a promise of the value your clients will receive. In an amazingly
complex and competing world - where it is increasingly hard to know what
is real and what is not - having your customers not only acknowledge but
support the promise of your brand is the key to building a thriving business.
To become a brand, you've got to become relentlessly focused on what you
do that adds value. Do you deliver your work on time, every time? Do you
anticipate and solve problems before they become crises? Do your clients
save money and headaches just by having you on the team? Do you complete
projects within the allotted budget?
Branding integrates customer service, sales promotion, public relations,
direct mail, newsletters, discounts, event sponsorship, word of mouth
and other communications tactics to present a unified message about the
company, its products or services.
Your brand will integrate all your marketing around a core idea and vision.
As a result, you will find it easier to sell yourself, because your message
will be uniform and powerful. Every business needs to evaluate its brand
identity against the following criteria:
Relevance to the Market
A brand must stand for something that is meaningful to members of a target
market. Your brand encompasses the total experience of doing business
Consistency of Behavior
Customers must be able to depend on the brand to deliver the same experience
every time. Because your market experiences your values through your brand,
the only way they will truly become loyal to your brand is through your
dedication and consistency.
A brand is not a logo or an advertising strategy. "The strength of
any brand is in the relationship it has between a company and its customers.
The stronger the relationship, the more business they will do, and the
more likely it is that customers will refer them to their friends and
Loyalty to the Customer Is Returned
The test of a brand is, in fact, the strength of loyalty it generates.
If you have a strong relationship with your target audience, then you
have a strong brand and a strong business.
Reputation Is Priceless
The only way to be successful in business is by establishing a good reputation,
and a brand can help you do that. Your reputation works as your strongest
marketer by communicating the relationship you have with people who've
done business with you, and your target market in general.
Good brands stand the test of time. To develop a brand that will last
a lifetime, go beyond what you do right now. Think long term. Look at
Coke, Ford and General Electric. No matter what they sell or how they
change over time, they can rely on their brand equity build on a foundation
of customer trust to take them deep into their customers' trust quotient
and keep them there.
If you establish a place of trust and relevance in prospects' minds, you're
already in the door. The more people believe in your brand, the more it
will spread throughout your niche market without your pushing. If your
brand is clear, distinctive, and easily understood, and expresses a unique,
compelling benefit that people believe in, it will bring you all the business
you can handle.
Steven Van Yoder is author of Get Slightly Famous: Become a Celebrity
in Your Field and Attract More Business with Less Effort. Visit http://www.getslightlyfamous.com
to read the book and learn about 'slightly' famous teleclasses, workshops,
and marketing materials to help small businesses and solo professionals
attract more business.
Copyright 2003, Steven Van Yoder. All rights reserved. Get Slightly
Famous is a trademark of Steven Van Yoder.
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