I’m a member of a collaboration site called Black Business Space and there was a recent discussion about The Power of Branding. Lee Green, the author of the original post (and Founder of Black Business Space) asked, "
What tips, techniques, strategies and/or ideas can you share with us to help us become better at branding?" There were a variety of good comments and I offered the following which is a good summary of the three things you should keep in mind as you define, develop, and maintain your brand.
The essence of developing a brand lies in affirming the perceived value
of a product or service through delivery of products and services that
are consistent with that perception. You have to both define and manage
the perception that you want others to have about your business.
Branding has been around as long as businesses have competed with one
another and even in the absence of competition, even monopoly
businesses have to define a brand that ensures reliance from consumers
to fill a perceived need. Brands often have nothing to do with logical
needs because they are based on wants and desires–a want to have the
best, a desire to look the best, a want to have the most
expensive–logos, names, makes and models are the physical distinctions
that fulfill psychological needs for distinction and uniqueness. Right
or wrong, branding feeds on consumer desire.
How can we become better at branding? Value, Consistency, and Focused Execution are just a few ways.
In today’s hyper-competitive market, almost anything can be done
cheaper and faster in any part of the world. That means that value and
excellence in the products and services you provide is the minimal
entry fee. You don’t get extra credit for excellence and you can’t
expect to be paid more for value unless you get consistency and
execution right, and even then it’s not a given. The first step toward
better branding is providing solid value.
Consistency in the level of excellence and value that you provide goes
beyond your products or services and must extend throughout your entire
value chain. From suppliers, inputs, processes, outputs to customers
you must be consistent in the way you achieve transactional excellence
to reduce cost, optimize efficiency, and provide your customers with
value and outstanding service at every level of your business. The
actual interface with the customer on the backend is extremely
important but branding provides the customer with a perception that
everything you do is done in a consistently excellent fashion and
that’s why they are willing to travel over time and distance to pay
more money for your stuff and not the other guys.
Given what I’ve explained above, focused execution on value and
consistency goes without saying. Many of us gain some momentum, gather
a following, and then things start to slip. As you reap the rewards of
a well-defined brand and the goodwill associated with it by your
customer base, word will spread and others will come to you based on
the pull of the brand and you will have to continue to deliver in a way
that meets their expectations. Branding is not a single-person event,
you will need to incorporate systems and standards that deliver on your
brand promise independent of your individual involvement. Branding
begins with you and your voice and your practices as they permeate your
enterprise but as you grow and others become involved in helping you to
meet the demands of growth, you’ve got to standardize the execution of
how you do business so that the interactions that define the business
are not dependent on any single individual.
My quick $0.02.
After I submitted this post, I received some positive feedback–that feedback helps to prove my point: Every post or comment that I make is done with careful reflection as to
how it reinforces a brand that I’m trying to create that speaks to
expertise, collaboration and promotional assistance. If others read my
comments and posts and are intrigued enough to follow what I’m doing on my page or
across the internet, then I’ve succeeded in developing my brand one
step further. Hard selling doesn’t cut it anymore; we can do more to
build our businesses by helping others first and letting our assistance
do the selling.