Before You Open The Doors Think About Branding Your Business
Thinking about starting a business, developing a product or service, or running a business now — you must be thinking about ‘BRANDING’! Your product or service is your gift to the world, and branding is how it is perceived and evaluated by the market you serve. Give yourself a money making possibility by creating a brand for your work!
Distinguishing what you do and how you do it is essential to standing out in a way that people can find, consider and then avail themselves of what you are doing. But the key is clarity which brings power and magic to your business. It’s what describes that no one is like you and can bring to the marketplace what you are uniquely delivering. Powerful brands are Starbucks, Zappos and celebrity brands like Tony Robbins — and they evoke an experience and a solution with just the mention of their names.
Interestingly, your brand can be more important than the product or services that you offer when it comes to your success and profitability. It’s what sets you apart from the pack and gives your work visibility.
Here’s how it works. You venture into the marketplace to deliver something and hope to be paid for it. While you have unique gifts and talents that only you have because of your experience, education, and perspective — you can still be seen by the marketplace in these different ways depending upon your approach. The first is ‘Me Too’, the second is ‘Me Special’ and the third is ‘Me Only’, according to Jerry Foster of Big Brand Strategies.
‘Me Too’ doesn’t get you very far. You are an Imitator. That’s when what you have to offer is same old as everyone else. You’re a dentist, a life coach, a broker — a role you play that many others play too. It’s old school thinking and you are in the commodity category, which yields slow sales and cashflow problems. People shop you for price and availability because if you’re not the cheapest or easiest, they have other options.
The market does not see any discernible differences between you and the next guy, because branding is weak. You compete with look-alikes, and the marketplace labels you as an Imitator, pretty much copying what is done elsewhere. More importantly, this probably won’t be a lot of fun for you!
‘Me Special’ is the next rung up. You are an Improver. Here you may be connecting to what you have to offer that is special to the marketplace, but you are viewed as an only improving the same old-same old. I like to call it ‘putting a pink skirt on a pig’. In other words, not original but you put your own twist on it. This too won’t get you very far because you’re limited in how high your perceived value is in the marketplace.
While this has the makings of a brand, it won’t have the currency of high brand value. There still will be others in the marketplace who can offer the nut of what you offer. While your product or service may be provided a needed solution, it won’t be seen as the only solution that the consumer can find and purchase to meet a need.
The place to land is ‘Me Only’! It should be obvious. Here you are an Innovator. The consumer needs you! And only you, because you have a unique set of steps, approach, product, formula – that will specifically address the consumer’s need. ‘Tecron’ in gasoline, unique paper towels that make it the ‘quicker picker upper’, or Martha Stewart’s answer to Perfection or Oprah’s, Living A Fulfilled Life. Here the experience and the promise engage the customer and describe the Brand. Your Brand is a way of blessing others through you. It’s a transparent energy that flows from your unique passion, gifts, and talents through to the demand that is ready and willing for a solution.
You create a Brand to differentiate yourself and your offering in the marketplace. Then you go to the next step of marketing to get your offering noticed, and finally to selling your offering to get paid. These are distinct steps. It does not work to market something that you have not thought carefully about to Brand — this is like putting the roof on the house before you construct the foundation.
People buy because they want an answer to their pain or they want a way to have more pleasure. There is much research that shows that the consumer is wanting to move away from pain or towards pleasure. Branding is that you have carefully considered the need of the consumer and have developed the one of a kind method, product, service, solution, sequence — to give the customer the leverage to transition from one state of feeling to another.
So, you ask yourself — Based on my unique way of seeing the world, with my experience, training, heart, and passion, what are the creative opportunities that I see? McDonald’s did not produce the best hamburger, but they produced the same tasting and looking hamburger the world over. You knew what you were getting when you entered a McDonald’s franchise in San Francisco or Montreal. As Michael Gerber says in his book ‘The E-Myth’, McDonalds Brand was a ‘system’ – that consistently provided the same quality of hamburger no matter what.
The consistent delivery of the same hamburger became McDonald’s ‘Promise”. What can you promise to your ideal customer? This is your Brand Attraction. Can you promise the best night’s sleep, successful and proven trading strategies that even a novice can do, lose 20 pounds in 20 days, dentistry without pain or a product to make your dishwater spotless? Each time and every time fulfilling on your promise? It’s your years of experience combined in a purposeful way to help others with a solution to problems that you faced and overcame.
What is it that you can promise and deliver on the promise? This defines your Brand. Yours is a one of a kind promise, something that can be found only with you, and is uniquely created in the marketplace.
No one else has what you have. You are the specialist, and care the most about remedying the pain or delivering on the pleasure. The consumer should not care about price, because if this answers the longing, it can only be found with you.
You have been so thoughtful about what you are delivering and stand behind the promise that you make that you have the best, the brightest, the most fast-acting, the proven path, the clarity to enable the progress of your ideal client. You have a one to one relationship, that personally describes your passion and you are so moved to deliver. As Steve Jobs said – he was committed to changing the way that people work.
And he did.
That’s what made the Apple brand so phenomenally successful. He sold computers – but no he didn’t — because the Brand was more important than the product and he sold the Apple experience. Right down to the product design, packaging and premium status of being an Apple user. The Brand caught fire.
And, the brand was not the colors or the logo – the cute, fun Apple with a bite out of it! The Brand was an overall strategy that foresaw customer demand, took the risk of making a promise, and then fully committing to deliver on the promise. Apple made an emotional connection with the look and feel of the products.
This was part of Apple’s messaging in the Brand for their products. Your Brand needs messaging too. What language you use to describe your Brand is critical to how it will be received. The languaging needs to be a lightning bolt to the consumer’s heart. People are moved to action by emotion, not by logic.
How you message your work can’t be too boring, too clinical or too intelligent — or it won’t land. You want people to smell the coffee, to see the car taking the turns, to feel — to get into the experience. These are the connecting points to entering the conversation that is already going on in your ideal customer’s head about a need that is motivating them to engage with your unique Brand.
Success will lie in making your product or service or unique offering tangible. It can be your ‘secret sauce’ that differentiates your offering. Then you make a promise about what the offering will do. When you make the emotional connection and add to this your mission and brand purpose — you are designing a formula that — VOILA!! — will set you sailing! Your business will be uniquely perceived in the marketplace and your product sales and cash flow will be positioned to take off.
Part of your Brand is to describe your mission in this plan of action. How did you become personally involved in this work? Do you want to make a difference in the world? Add value to animals, children, working Moms? Do you want to make the world a better place? What’s your calling? How is your Branding purpose driven? How does your heart align with what you are doing? These are questions that your ideal client wants to know and will connect them more deeply to your Brand.
Do you want to impact millions of lives? Put people on a path? We live in a Brand conscious world. Micheal Kors in ‘Style’, BMW in the ‘driving machine’ – people prefer Brands. You want your customers to invest in your Brand. You have an impact on the marketplace for the benefit of other people.
Be clear about your purpose, your gift for real results! Brand your brilliance. The best version of yourself. Brand your sparkle!
This is true whether you are a profit making business or a non-profit. Your Brand will distinguish you and make it possible to further your mission. You want to appear ‘Me Only’, as the Innovator, so the marketplace will hold you in high regard, with a heart connection to a purposeful offering. Whether you are selling products for animal care or raising money for animal care — the Branding outline is the same.
You develop a:
- Me Only! Innovator Strategy
- Your Mission Statement that Describes Your Calling
- The Opportunity That You See and Want to be Known for Addressing
- Your Secret Sauce – Delivery System
- The Ideal Client You Serve
- Your Promise – Your Statement of Mastery
- Juicy Messaging
Your Customer is asking ‘what’s in it for me’? They care that you are there for them. Can you give me a better outcome/result? – is what they are evaluating. They’d like you to perform a miracle, and maybe you’ve ‘gone through the eye of the needle’ and you do have a path or process that appears miraculous — that helps with the clarity they need or short-cuts their process of development.
Can you provide an emotional payoff — will they feel better, differently, transformed by your coming into their lives? Can they get more stability, confidence, freedom to live? Do you have a remedy for their negative emotions? Listen to what they are complaining about. Stand in their shoes to see life as they see it.
In the end, you are the Brand, which is more important than the products or services you represent. You are known for _________(fill in the blank!) because it is the sum of your heart, your mind, your spirit and your soul purpose. Here, you can’t help but be immensely successful!