If you are a business, you have a brand.
A “brand” by my definition is simple. It’s how the world sees your business or organization. You as a leader or business owner have a lot of control over this, but do not be mistaken, you do not ever have complete control over your brand.
Working in Children’s Ministry leadership development, I would teach ministers about how every church has a brand image. For example, a church can display inspirational signs, create welcoming campaigns that boast “The friendliest church in town!”, and have the best children’s programs, but we all know that the brand image most people have with said church is based on their first visit or how church members act outside the church. The community surrounding the church actually has great power over establishing the brand of the church.
Churches and companies, alike, spend lots of time trying to enhance their brand image and overcome negative branding.
Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising to improve their brand image only to have their brand shattered in moments. From food poisoning, safety recalls, to controversial posts on social media, these things can all make consumers shun brands, if only for a moment.
That is why it is always best to be strategic in developing your brand and consistent in presenting it. Here are the first steps to get you started.
First, take inventory of your current reality.
Take inventory of where your business is currently. This includes products, services, sales, a marketing plan, revenue projections, taxes, overhead costs, goals, projected plans and more.
Get your business out of your head and all in one place on one sheet of paper, so you can clearly see your current reality.
Second, clearly evaluate your customers.
Develop a profile of your target market, buyers persona or customer avatar.
You can spend days on researching and developing an customer avatar.
However, one simple exercise you can do is take one or two current customers that represent your best customers. Ask them what magazines they prefer. Go purchase those magazines and make a storyboard from the pictures and words that you feel best represent your customer. Look at your board to remind you of your target customers. Use it to help you think about their brand from their perspective.
Third, assess your brand identity.
Take a moment to read what has been said about you.
If you have reviews, take them to heart and follow up with them to learn more about how the outside world sees your brand.
If you do not have reviews online, simply ask your current customers how they see your brand. You can do this through an email, a Facebook post or by creating a survey to send your customers.
Listen to what they say. Put the information in a spreadsheet, or create a visual illustration so that you can easily access the data.
When you get their answers, decide how you want to change the current perception to reflect the future brand you want to be known for.
How to know when you are missing the mark…
If you are consistently hearing repeat criticism in one area, you have a problem that needs to be addressed. For example, if you want your brand to be based on quality merchandise, yet the product is arriving to its destination broken because of shipping issues, you have missed the mark. The quality of your product line is being diminished because you have a shipping problem that needs to be addressed.
Fourth, create a strategy.
Map out what it will take to move the current brand perception to the future brand vision.
This can be as simple as creating three columns on a blank sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet. In the first column, list the current brand issues. In the third column, list the idea of how you want your customers to see your brand in a new light. Use the column in between to brainstorm ideas to move you from brand reality to brand vision.
Fifth, start the process.
You cannot change brand perception unless you do something to change the brand. It takes work and consistency to rebranding your brand to reflect where you want to be. Start the process and stay consistent and you will see progress.
Next Steps Questions:
Go through and do the exercises suggested.
Need help, reach out and let me help you develop your brand.
Have a great week!