Your brand is neither your logo nor tagline. It’s not the colors or words you use. Whether you like it or not, in many ways, your brand is the perception people have when they hear your name and how it reflects on your brand promise.
Upon hearing your name, if people think about how you can help them, and why you do it better than others, then you’ve done quite well. But, if your name triggers the wrong perceptions about your business, then you clearly have some work to do. If nothing comes to mind, then you’re missing an opportunity to distinguish your business from your rivals and gain a competitive edge.
Some businesses have a multitude of brands without realizing it. For example, if they have an over-aggressive salesperson who rubs people the wrong way, to that particular audience, that annoying salesperson is the company brand. If people think of the business owner as “a really nice guy,” but don’t know their company’s value statement and why they’re the better choice, then some retooling is most likely needed.
Remember, a great brand builds customer loyalty and brings non-tangible value to your business. So, making sure it sends the right message in the right words to the right audience is vital. And, enabling it to resonate throughout your organization and into the marketplace requires a calculated effort. It needs to be adopted by your staff, reflected through all of your communications, and creatively and strategically executed.
You all have to live it and breathe it. And, above all, you have to deliver the goods.
So, if you find yourself continually restating your promise or steering your audience away from false perceptions, then it’s time to take a step back and see where things have gone astray. And, that might just require the objectivity that can only come from outside of your organization.
It’s important to look like you belong in your market. But, it’s more important to promote your own uniqueness. Remember, your brand and identity is about differentiation. It’s not about being like the others.
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.