If there’s one thing I learned over the years, it’s how much I can gain by yielding to the expertise of others.
That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be challenged. Quite the contrary. Without honest debate, we can never achieve true progress, which is upward, not just forward.
But, even the best pilots need a navigator to help them avoid the turbulence of going it alone and flying blindly over new territory. The more experts you keep in your circle, the better you’ll be at determining your next great move. And, the better chance you’ll have that your crew will follow and grow with you.
It’s also important to understand that real progress usually requires that you take on some level of risk. But, don’t confuse that with following your gut. I’m referring to calculated risk that can only come from experience, data and reason.
The bottom line is that you just can’t do it all by yourself. So, the next time you’re at a crossroads, it might be best to stop, look around, decide where you really need to be, and make sure you have the humility to ask for directions. That’s true leadership.
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.