by Ron Stein
Updated 5 yearss ago
Your business has a brand. Do you know what it is? If you never really thought about what your brand stands for and how your audience experiences your brand, then it’s time to hit the reset button.
Some people believe that there is a difference between marketing and branding, but I’d enthusiastically argue that point. In many ways branding is the heart of marketing and you can’t separate the two.
What exactly is a brand anyway? There was a time when most people thought it was all about what a company stood for as expressed by logos, taglines, and even the look and feel of marketing materials and a website.
These are all only pieces of what makes up a brand.
Then, smart marketers came along and said branding conveys a business’ positioning as the go-to expert in its area or industry. In other words, the message you communicate to the outside world.
This is getting there, but if you stop here you’ll spend a lot of time and money and get few results in return. Instead of acquiring customers or clients, you’ll get a headache and be frustrated. All while your money is flushed down the toilet.
Your brand is how you show up to play. It’s who you are and what you represent. It’s the “thing” that you’re marketing in your business. It’s putting what you stand for in motion. That means adding the “ing” to brand.
Think of branding as an action noun. If you’re an English major please don’t yell and let me explain. Nouns are things or idea. Verbs, not nouns, are typically described as "action words”. Yet, branding is the thing or idea that you’re marketing in your business. Got it?
Branding may be the heart of marketing, but it’s the job of everyone in your business who actively touches your brand. Your receptionist, shipping department, sales, accounting person, and the outside partners who work with your company in various ways.
Here’s how to make branding work hard for you.
Your value of ‘why’ is what makes you different. When you’re extremely clear about your brand, the marketplace will look for you. But, your value goes well beyond the great results your product or service delivers. Start with why you do what you do. It’s your story and your passion as a business that separates you from the competition. People will more readily make that important emotional connect with your businesses when they understand the purpose behind your brand. Simon Sinek famously said,“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
Bridge the gap between expectations and the actual experiences. At its core, successful branding relies on making and keeping promises. Every time you open you mouth, an advertisement is placed, or a brochure is handed out a promise of some sort is being made. Today most buyers will see through slick marketing words and have low expectations. Let your why shine through to catch the attention of prospects, and then deliver with great experiences every step of the way. Determine what your brand promise is along with its values and attributes. You and everyone on your team must take active ownership of it. That’s competitive differentiation in action. It’s that simple.
Develop a branding road map. First, notice the use of “ing” again. A branding framework begins with a solid strategy and flows into a plan of action on how you’ll connect with buyers. Take the why that’s woven into your company’s culture and wrap it in with your vision and goals. Add the ingredients of no more than three strategic initiatives and related tactics. Now, cook gently. All of your tactical marketing and operational activities need to support the branding objectives. Map it out in detail. Not just a logo, website layout, and social media campaign; articulate what your promise is exactly and everything the buyer gets when they do business with you. Include how your company will react in different scenarios to fulfill the promises made. Track and measure what you do. This how you’ll turn vision into a reality.
You bring to the table something that no other business has -- your company’s unique DNA. Think about how you’re different from others that do the same thing you do.
Branding creates an emotion connection with people. Remember, its starts and ends with your buyers. It’s their perception of the experience they have with your business that matters. When you build an irresistible brand, it attracts people and allows you to outsell your competition.
Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He works with small business owners, helping them to energize their marketing and sell more of their products and services. Ron has developed his own highly successful 7-step approach to winning new customers as a result of his experience as a small business owner, corporate CEO, marketing and business development executive, salesman, and mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.