When you began your business, you probably were “on to something” that you felt nobody had addressed. Maybe your business was similar to someone else’s in product or service, but you had that “unfair advantage” of a new, unique, “something” that set you apart. You even came up with what I call a “Branding Statement” that defined how you wanted your customers to view your product or service.
Write your Branding Statement here: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________
But then, as so often does with new things, the newness wore off, and now you are dangerously close to slipping into that “rut of sameness” and losing the very edge that made you so popular before.
Don’t throw in the towel. You may just need a little “Re-Branding” to re-establish your “unfair advantage”.
Our company, ActionCOACH grew out of a need to fill a void. Our “branding statement” is “The World’s Number One Business Coaching Firm.” But our challenge was in defining for our consumer what a “business” coach was. Back then, business coaching was a new concept, so educating customers to a new concept was a top priority.
Part of our branding process was paralleling the concept of business coaching to something familiar to consumers. They all understood that athletic teams and athletes themselves benefit from having a coach. They also understood that an athletic coach’s key responsibility was to prepare his or her team or athlete for peak performance. To accomplish this, the coach must be able to have a clear understanding of discipline, administration, sports medicine, psychology, and prepare athletes for the feats before them.
Brad Sugars, Founder of ActionCOACH recognized that in addition to the skill sets necessary to train athletes (Goal Setting, Communication, Stress and Risk Management, to name a few) business professionals could be trained to “coach” business owners in 5 key areas that would give them the “unfair advantage” over their competitors, including:
The results have been life-altering for thousands of business owners worldwide.
Still, whether one is an athletic team or a business, a key factor in establishing one’s “unfair advantage” is branding. A sports team that repeatedly does not perform well doesn’t just lose fans and games, it loses credibility. The same is true in business. And loss of credibility “rebrands” a company in a way it does not want to be rebranded.
Picture your product or service on a store shelf, alongside similar products and services. Why will someone pay more for your product or service, if in fact you are very similar, if not identical to the ones next to you?
Morton Salt had that challenge. Morton Salt has the same ingredients as the salt right next to them, but costs more, yet to this day people are willing to pay more for Morton Salt? Why? Because “When it rains, it pours,” right? The Morton marketing crew knew what customers hated: Clumpy salt. They addressed the customer’s need in their branding, and after more than 150 years they are still the leading seller of salt.
Clearly this one example alone supports the widely discussed issue that your branding is directly related to your customer’s needs, which is why it’s imperative to know who your primary consumer is in order for you to gain that “unfair advantage”.
For the sake of space, let’s assume that you’ve defined who your target market is, that your business is up and running with social media networks humming, that you’ve carved out a place in the market, but that you’re still working 24/7, you’re exhausted, that time you thought you’d be having for vacations and new houses, and cars and necessities is being eaten away, and that suddenly your baby–your business -if the truth be told, is feeling more like a parasite, feeding off everything you have to give to sustain itself, rather than supporting you.
Ironically, this can be true even if you’ve grown your business to a million-dollar-plus industry. Bigger does not always mean self-sufficient or even better.
So, take a deep breath, clear your thought-clustered mind for a moment and ask yourself:
A. What one key thing differentiates my company from my competitor?
B. What one word summarizes my company that my consumer recognizes as being unique?
C. How is my brand reflected in my company’s operations, finance, marketing, administration, and pricing?
Remember, name recognition isn’t enough. Even companies like Disney, Hertz, Ford, Pepsi, Coke…and more, who are known worldwide have to have a “differentiating factor” that separates them from their competition, refreshing their brand and keeping it ever present and alive in their customers’ minds.
Your attention to both your branding and “re-branding” directly impacts competitive positioning, your promise to your consumers, and your consumer’s experience with your product or service.
My colleague has a favorite expression, “Line up your head with your heart and your feet will follow.” In business, aligning your brand with your strategy allows customers to experience consistency and confidence in your product or service.
Now, that’s a branding you want on your side.