Early adopters help define markets. But, they don’t always get things right. Learn from both their successes and shortcomings to uncover ways to distinguish your business from them. Make it a point to avoid the trappings of sameness that comes from emulating others.
Brand building is about creating a frame of mind that nobody owns but you.
As Howard Kosgrove, vice principal of marketing at Lindsay, Stone and Briggs Advertising in Madison, WI, put it, “A brand is the one thing that you can own that nobody can take away from you. Everything else, they can steal. They can steal your trade secrets. Eventually, your patents will expire. Your physical plant will wear out. Technology will change. But your brand can go on and live. It creates a lasting value above and beyond all the other elements of your business.”
Never lose sight of what makes you great, why you do things differently and why it matters to your audience.
Reinforce it with an identity that connects and a message that resonates. Instead of joining the conversation, control the dialogue.
You cannot get there by following others.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
In the end, we got exactly where we needed to be and could only have arrived there through a long and sometimes daunting process of introspection, exploration and affirmation.
If any of these scenarios seem familiar, perhaps it’s time to consider retooling your brand.