We all have heard the saying ‘people buy into people’ and to a point that’s true but when it comes to business, well I believe that people buy into brands. A brand creates an experience and a perception beyond your product. So the more pertinent question to ask yourself is; why is my brand important to my audience and why should they care?
Need for a compelling story
When your marketing capability is limited and the opportunities to connect with your audience are restricted by budget, manpower and media dominance of big players; then the need to make an impact when you have attention, really matters. Clarity and emotional resonance are undoubtedly important so you need to communicate your distinct point of view, define your difference and consolidate this into a compelling story across media touchpoints.
Something so etherial as a brand can be a difficult concept to get your head around at first and for that reason it can be quite a daunting proposition to undertake but first and foremost it is important to understand that your brand is a tool that is there to help you. It can help you build an emotional connection with the people you wish to talk too and that makes it a valuable asset to your business. To prove this point I often encourage clients to take a step back, identify the brands that you are drawn too and then ask yourself why you like these brands – a lot of the time we do this sub-conciously and without a rational. Nine times out of ten I think you will find that you hold a perception about that brand and somehow that is an expression of your personality, this holds true whether it’s a b2b or b2c brand.
I was recently talking to an inspiring entrepreneur in Liverpool who had just launched a start-up in the education recruitment sector. He was up and running, had begun trading and as yet he hadn’t developed his brand beyond the more commonly assumed identity assets such as logo and website. He viewpoint is that he is the brand and that his business would be driven by his dynamic personality (and without a doubt he is definitely a dynamic character). To a point, he is right, as a business of one he is his greatest asset and as his business grows he will continue to be a key asset. However, there are a couple of key practical problems that will arise.
A need for clarity
The more immediate problem is one of manpower. It’s a great skill being an amazing sales person but to be 100% pitch perfect every time and to not be subject to the occasional off-day is a heck of a lot to pressure to put on yourself. You are a human being and I’m all for positive thinking but it’s a very easy way to burn out. As an entrepreneur you need to be mindful of the big picture and ensure everything is dialling up to one ‘north star’. Having your brand story pre-defined can help not only open the door to a sale but it gives you the opportunity to make a professional impression and present what you are about before you even knock on the door.
A brand helps you communicate your unique ‘Point of View’
Additionally, relying on your personality and relationship with people is all well and good but it only works if the person you are dealing with is always the decision-maker. Having a brand will help that person communicate your benefits to others – so does it not make sense to help make that job easier for them?
As your business scales you are going to need people and people are all unique individuals, we as humans need strategic guidance and clarity to ensure that we understand what is expected from us. Your employees will need a brand purpose that they can buy into, that they can believe in – talent want more than top dollar (and as a start up chances are you are unable to be as competitive on that front nor will you able to offer the same security as established players) so your employees need help to understand the vision, and you need to ensure your message is clearly translated and understood. Your employee(s) will thank you for it! After all they are your greatest asset – and if you can’t convince them then how will convince clients in the long-run.
You feel on top of your game now, but just around the corner, their is someone just as driven as you, just as good as building relationships and with a bucketful of great ideas. Brand is an essential way that you can keep your business fresh and on top of your game and can help keep you front of mind.
Look at Nokia. 10-15 years ago they were untouchable and within a few years they became a brand with sales falling through their floor and a perception that they lacked innovation and relevance. They didn’t seize key opportunities in the smartphone world. Their brand preference had fallen of a cliff and they quickly fell from hero to zero. Truth is they still made great hardware but they had lost touch with their customers wants, needs, they fell behind on software and they struggled to communicate a clear vision of who they are and why they made what they made. However, Nokia established a place in our hearts and they never lost their reputation for making great robust hardware, so the potential exists for this former brand giant to rise from the ashes.
Build brand love
We live in a time were the media landscape is growing exponentially which brings great opportunity and means there are many more places to connect with your audience. With multiple forms of media to master your story needs to be seamless across a myriad of channels and play a relevant role in people lives. A small business will need to be creative, savvy, reduce wastage and prioritise your relevant touchpoints but it also means that you need to grab attention, connect build brand love and reinforce who you are every time.
We live in a time when people have never been so busy, so distracted and as a brand you can help make their life easier or better. I urge all of you who are starting out on this path to always ask yourself; how am I making people lives better? If you can answer this question easily then half the job is done. Now you’ve just got to work out how to tell everyone about it.
If you would like some help with developing you brand do get in touch by leaving me a message.
I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavours.