While watering plants last Spring, I stumbled upon this fledgling sprout in a hanging basket. I immediately thought it would make a good stock photo, but soon realized how it also taught a great lesson in brand building.
Yes, those mighty maples in my yard have been protecting my home from nature’s sudden turns, much like a well-nurtured brand provides cover from market uncertainties.
And, the same way in which a business should propagate its brand through strategic outreach, those maples were maintaining their own seasonal ritual of proliferation, sowing whirling seeds of distinction within, around and beyond my property line.
If your branding efforts aren’t branching out beyond your customer base, you’re missing an opportunity for it to take root in areas where it can add real value to your business. Potential investors, career-seekers, local media … they each should know who you are and what you stand for.
Your brand and your business should matter to all of them.
If you want to stand out from the rest of the forest, sow your own seeds of distinction as broadly as you can.
If your brand cannot adapt to change, you could end up burning cycles recovering what you lost instead of spending your time building on what you have. As Ben Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Building a great brand is never once-and-done. It’s more than a name, logo and graphics. It’s a frame of mind — an experience — with a narrative that stays relevant and makes its audience part of the story.
The tagline is not about who you are or what you sell. It’s about them: your target audience. So, you better make sure it’s concise, direct and memorable, so they recall it the each time they hear your name.
The bankruptcy courts are full of great ideas that were undermined by ineffective branding and promotion. Build it and they will come? No, they won’t. Not unless you make them really want to. Or, better yet, need to.
If you’re looking to create a new brand identity or enhance your current one, expect to be deeply involved, regularly challenged and perhaps a bit frustrated. It surely won’t happen overnight. But your patience will certainly pay off.
As the year closes, ask yourself how your current challenges and objectives align with your overall vision. Have you lost your way, or are you sticking to your Brand Promise? Is it still meaningful to your customers and prospects? Have you allowed yourself the room to evolve with their needs, or have you boxed yourself in?
If your business is like ours, you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget to build awareness of a name that lacks clarity. We have to be more calculated and deliberate.
Business naming is the hardest part of what we do. Aside from the creative challenges, there are three major hurdles we have to leap. For every name we present, there are, literally, dozens of candidates that never make the cut. The client never sees any of those.
Even if you’re selling widgets, there’s something more that you offer that distinguishes your business in a positive way. It’s what your customers truly gain from you that they can’t get from anyone else. It’s this frame of mind that defines your business more than anything.
Greatness cannot be achieved within a vacuum. It takes vision, perseverance and a team of experts to make it happen. It requires an understanding of what your audience wants, even if it’s something that doesn’t quite exist. You aim high, learn from your failures and never say, “It can’t be done.”