At the cornerstone of every business is both a visual brand and an underlying brand story – a message from a business to a market. In stressed businesses, it is almost always the case that this brand story is either off-target or has become twisted, lost or forgotten by its intended market. In worst-case scenarios, which is the starting point for many start-up companies, it is actually completely irrelevant to the market or even completely unknown to them.
AN OFF-TARGET BRAND CAN BE FATAL
As a turnaround professional, I encounter this problem all the time and its consequences can be dire – not having your target market identify with or understand your brand or its key brand message is a big deal these days. We live in a world of online promotion and vast social interaction – buyers, browsers and online ‘experts’ we never know will take our brands into places we could never find and talk about it without our approval to people who are frequently other target buyers!
It’s easy to see how a brand message that is not clear or is does not resonate properly with a target market will become swept up in a wave of pubic discussion without our influence. Indeed, recalling the old saying that “any PR is good PR”, it is easy to understand that a worse outcome than our market talking about us in the wrong way is that they are not talking about us at all!! In both situations, the impact is adverse and potentially fatal – markets become confused or look elsewhere, sales drop, staff are less engaged. Irrelevance is contagious after all.
THE 3 OBVIOUS BUT CLOSELY GUARDED SECRETS TO GETTING YOUR BRAND RIGHT
Those of you who have read other articles I have published in eZine, will be aware of my view that business recovery/turnaround and business start-up are very similar! One of the key areas that this is the case is Getting the Brand Right.
This is why, in my career in as a professional CEO in both of these types of situations, my 3-Step approach to Getting The Brand Right is the same. Here it is:
1. Know Your Buyer – this takes time, discipline and patience… but since knowing your Buyer should be central to almost everything you do in business, it is critical. What is Your Buyer seeking from a business that does what you do? What products, features, benefits, services, warranties, support? What price, terms of payment? How do they desire to be promoted to or sold to (eg – email, phone, shop front, home visit etc) etc?
When researching to get to Know Your Buyer, make sure your distinguish from the separate task of Knowing Your Browser. Both are in your market of course, but often there are subtle differences between them. You should pitch your brand and business to your Buyer.
2. Identify what Moves Your Buyers and, in particular, What Moves Your Buyers About You!
Now I realise that this may sound corny, but when you recognise what this is about you or your staff or your brand or your business that moves your buyers, you will begin to understand what it is about you that encourages them to invest their time in getting to know you in the first place! Get it!?
3. Build Your Brand & Business on this Truth – Here’s the golden nugget… what truly moves your buyers about you will only ever be something that is true about you! This is powerful. Being a truth about you, it will naturally remain true day after day after day and your actions as a business will be naturally consistent with it. The reason this is so important is simple:
If Your Actions validate your message, Buyers shift from knowing you to LIKING you. If your actions continue to validate your message, they will then shift from liking you to TRUSTING you.
Trusting Buyers are long-term buyers. Long-term buyers improve profitability.
With these steps satisfied, what you visually present to the market in terms of your brand (logo, visual identity etc) will slowly accumulate value – it will come to stand for something and be recognised for an underlying truth. This is how powerful brand stories are built… and all you need to do is to keep repeating the steps over and over and over to keep on track and do it!