Branding, marketing and advertising are 3 very different things that almost always get smooshed together in the same bucket. Businesses are taught that a call to action is all-encompassing and that a good brand is an afterthought. I’d like you to think about when you first started your business. How clear were you on what it was going to do? Did you know who your customer was? Were you passionate about what problems you could solve?
That’s the brand - the sweet stuff that makes the soup of charisma, passion and legacy.
It’s the raw, authentic, scary stuff that makes you stick in one particular area, focus on one client and have just one group of people who love you like really love you. That my friend is why so few people have good brands. It’s dead set scary deciding to only focus on one customer group, to only have one clear agenda and to be so passionate about it that it keeps you awake at night and then share THAT with the world. Scary, very scary. However, that good brand, that scary idea, when it’s clear can absolutely change your life. It can become mind blowing and it can change your business for the better. Every. Single. Time. Don’t’ believe me? Here are just 5 ways a great brand can change your life:
1. No more lies
How hard is it to actually describe what your company specifically does? Not just the function of what you do, but the unique part of what makes you different. For most of us, it takes a couple of minutes and a comparison to a more successful competitor or provider to make the connection for new customers. It’s tough to really describe what we do, and we end up downplaying the benefits we provide or the difference we make. Can you imagine if the way you described your business was how your company solves the problem? For example Option 1 - No brand: “We’re commercial plumbers.” Option 2 - With brand: “We make sure your office runs smoothly because your water definitely is”. The customer cares about the solution for them, not just what you’re doing for everyone. Functional is dead, purposeful is thriving.
2. You’ll fall in love all over again
It never fails. Every single project I’ve worked on in 17 years has had the same effect. Once the brand is refreshed or created, the client falls in love with their business again. The clarity a good brand gives allows them to reinstigate the passion that they originally had for their business. Let’s face it, after a while, it gets tiring. Saying the same thing, presenting the same stuff day after day. You lose the fire because perhaps it’s changed, or your positioning has changed or the product has been slightly redefined. Either way, clarity and a clear purpose will help you rediscover your business youth and get you excited about going out there all over again.
3. Your customers know what you’re saying, so you don’t’ have to
Trying to differentiate yourself in a pitch is hard. How do you possibly explain that your team are more creative than the other guys, or that your service is better than your competitors? There’s always a ‘why you?’ sitting somewhere, whether it be silently or loudly present in the conversation. If your brand is well articulated and is authentic to your business, then your customers will know what to expect before you even get there. They’ll know the difference in your service is because you offer a weekly performance report and a dedicated account manager who specialises in their industry, for example, or that your team are sent on regular creative outings to ensure that they keep their brains fresh with ideas. The list goes on, but the clarity of the difference becomes paramount and at the forefront before you have to say a word.
4. You’ll stop the war
If you have to pitch for work regularly in any way, shape, or form, you will almost always get asked: “So what’s the difference between you and your competitors?” I cannot stand this question. This question means I haven’t given them enough of a brand story and that I need to up the ante in sharing the “Why” behind my business. A good brand eliminates the war against your competitors because you’re already different – and your customers know that. In fact, that’s probably why they’re going to work with you in the first place. The question doesn’t arrive in the conversation, but even if it does, you’re ready and armed to win the war before it starts.
5. You become part of a community
They say that to survive, humans need food, water, shelter and community (otherwise known as “social”). A good community creates survival and a good brand does that for your business too. The uniqueness, clarity and point of difference you get with a good brand set you into your own unique camp. You will now hang out with people that “get” you and want to be involved – not hangers-on, or tyre kickers. Clients that want to be a part of your brand story and believe in what you’re doing because it’s just for them – no one else. That community not only becomes a great base for business but it also becomes a safe haven to ask for feedback, shares new ideas and road test new concepts – they all want you to succeed because the difference is you’re doing it for them, not just everyone. When you think of great brands, you’ll note they rarely “advertise” because they don’t need to. Customers know what to expect from them every time and that builds trust. Think Apple, think Walmart, think BMW - they’re all very clear on the customer they’re serving and the outcome to expect, particularly considering the problem they’re solving. If you don’t like one or all of these brands, you’re probably not the customer they’re looking for and, to be harsh, they don’t care. They’re building their community, they’re not lying and they’re definitely not fighting with anyone, their brand is so clear, so well understood that they just don’t have to.