A key part of success, whether you are a small business or a multinational is your brand. Actually to hone that further, it’s what your customers think of you – what you stand for, how you make them feel.
So how does a growing business build and protect a great brand? Firstly, it doesn’t need loads of marketing dollars and an extensive marketing team. But what it does need is big ideas, passion, clarity about what your business stands for and a focus on delivering this promise to customers.
What your business stands for. Your brand cause.
Why should people, whether they be customer, staff, stakeholder or suppliers, care about what you do? It’s helpful to look at Simon Sinek and his golden circles of Why, How, What. If you haven’t seen his TED talk, on How Great Leaders Inspire Action, it’s well worth a view. You’ll see why it’s used so much – because it’s simple and compelling.
Your brand cause (or your Why) is what you and your business believes in – where your passion is and how you are making a difference. It’s the outcome that both you and your customers care about. Recently, I have been working with a strategic market research business that believes passionately about the value of customer insights and research, with their ideal target customers holding the same belief. Through a simple process that is outlined below, we created the brand positioning and cause as 'Enjoying the process and value of discovery.' It was developed by creating customer profiles and understanding the overlap between what mattered to the customer and what matters to the business.
The products and services are vehicles through which to deliver a brand cause and are not in themselves necessarily unique. So the cause matters greatly. For the market research consultancy, they now champion 'Enjoying the process and value of discovery.' knowing that their customers and staff love fresh and effective ways of finding new insights and sharing the value of that insight. This is what helps makes the consultancy distinctive even though there are many other firms offering similar services. Their brand cause sets them apart.
This research consultancy now uses the brand cause as a filter for decision making. It drives their marketing, helps articulate their sustainable competitive advantage, gives focus to how they operate and helps investment decisions and recruitment.
A brand with a cause. This is what gets staff and customers EXCITED. You are leveraging emotion and going beyond just products and services. By focussing all that you do through your cause, you create differentiation and a reason for the best customers to choose you and the best people to work with you.
Creating your brand positioning and cause
1. Build a picture of your perfect customer through mind mapping their world. Who are they? What’s their role? What frustrations do they have? What fears do they have? What are their wants and needs? What are their aspirations? It’s helpful to give them a name. This profile might be based on an actual customer or a mixture of attributes that you would like to see in all of your customers. Either way, it represents the ideal customer you are targeting in human terms.
2. Mindmap your own belief sets. This can be in a group or just you. What is it that you stand for? What do you wish to make better? Why is this important? Why should anybody care about what you do?
3. Identify the overlaps with your customer profile. Where are the common areas of beliefs and passions? What do you have in common?
4. Create your statement. Sleep on it and test with key stakeholders – staff, customers, trusted suppliers. Keep the statement to one sentence if you can. The fewer the words the better.
5. Bring it to life, share with staff and use this to drive your marketing, operations, recruitment and strategy. How does this look across your people, processes, customers, financials, products/services and how you promote your business? Being focused, strategic and living this cause through all that you do, will create a brand positioning that is differentiated, embedded, authentic and extremely hard to copy.
So-Brand provides support to business leaders probably frustrated by internal culture, slow progress and siloed working, who see these as blockers for doing great things.
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