Defining the Value of Your Brand
Great marketing is almost never about you, except when it comes to defining the value of your brand. Marketing without a clear idea of your small business' value is like setting off into the wilderness without a compass or trail mix. You'll end up hungry, lost and vulnerable to attacks. Julia Allison, magazine columnist and reality television star, recently argued that defining your personal or small business brand needs to start really small - with a single word. Whether you choose to pick a word or develop a single phrase, defining the value of your brand is a necessary step. Before you can develop a social media strategy, buyer personas or high-value content, every small business needs to get started on defining the value of your brand.
Just One Word
Before you get started drafting an entire blog about you, think about a single term you want clients to associate with your products and services. Between Nike's athletic-looking swoosh and ever-present motto of "Do It," Nike makes me think of triumph. As a consumer, I have confidence that Nike's athletic wear can help me train a little harder and shave minutes off my 5K race time. Julia Allison agrees: "Take Donald Trump, one of the best personal brands in the world. If he wanted his personal brand to be "humble" or "kind," he failed. But he doesn't care if you like him; he just wants to communicate 'rich.' "
Many small business owners find defining the value of your brand unexpectedly difficult. Inbound Marketing blogger Marcus Sheridan recently made the challenging statement that most small businesses don't know "what the heck it is that they actually do." Sheridan argued that your neighborhood florist may know that she spends her days arranging local blooms for weddings and anniversaries, but she might not know how or why. A "you" statement for the florist may look something like "I deliver cutting-edge trends to brides on a tight budget by exclusively using seasonal flowers grown in our region." When you identify the fact that the florist supports local businesses, keeps her finger on the pulse of wedding trends and works with small budgets to help local brides' dreams come true, you've come a lot closer to defining the value of your brand.
Getting started with defining the value of your brand might require a long, hard look at major corporations who've excelled at value association with their logo or name. Hotelier The Four Seasons brings an association of "luxury". Grocer Whole Foods is immediately associated with "organic." Looking at word associations with other brands can help you get started, or you may prefer simply putting a pen to paper and listing off words that you want your customers to associate with your brand. The local florist given as an example might get started by listing terms such as "value," "community" and "nature."
Companies almost unanimously report that defining their brand in a word or phrase is very difficult. Don't look too far or work too hard to define yourselves. If you're business is already working with clients and leads, you might just need to talk to the customer service or sales representatives for insight on the value you deliver to your customers. The very best brands are authetic, and authenticity goes a long way towards presenting a unified front in every interaction. If your company is trying to portray a false image of formality that doesn't fit your jeans-and-tees work environment, it can be difficult and even dreary to brand yourselves through content, social media and marketing automation. It's defining the value of your brand for a reason - you're taking a long look at what makes you different and valuable, and not trying to portray something you're not. If you come across a word or phrase that just fits without feeling contrived, you've come a lot closer towards defining the value of your brand.
How Does Your Company Define Your Value?
Image credit: vegadsl/freedigitalphotos.net