In the past, it was assumed that to have a brand you needed to be a big company. Not so. Everyone has a brand and it is up to you to look after it. A brand is how your customers and employees feel about your company. It is what makes you unique. If you are in the service business a brand is a reflection of the actions you take and is ingrained in the values you hold. It is all about the “how” you do things. It is how you deliver those services that is as important as how that brand is marketed. It is a emotional connection that is important about a brand.
Kotler offers a concise definition of this emerging marketing paradigm: “Human-centric marketing is defined by brands [that] approach engaging their current and prospective customers via advertising and marketing tactics as whole human beings with hearts, minds, and spirits.”
We are now in a knowledge based economy and as a result of this information age which has technology at its core we as consumers are moving to a interaction, a conversation and a control over how we engage with brands. Websites, social networks, blogs, micro-blogging, mobile apps and podcasts are giving rise to a transparency between company and customer and giving everyone the choice to create, critique and produce a voice. As a result we are becoming more active, more mobile, more instant and more personal.
People are seeking more authentic meaningful connections with each other and with brands. While technology has assisted this chance for connection the underlying need is cultural and social connection.
Our brands are in the hands of our customers. They always have been but now our customers are active and vocal. The perceptions about our brand can be spread across the internet in a nano second.
So, the branding process must start from the inside-out. What brand has a client given you? How do you behave and what values do you have for your small business?
If your brand is the sum of all the experiences your product or service create then what should you focus on?
What you should focus on?
1. Your human nature. Your story and the human rather than vanilla corporate values (Values are all about the “how we do things here and make decisions and are incredibly important to your customers and employees experience)
2. Focus on how you can help not sell.(Selling is more about solving a problem with insight and empathy rather than the old fashion “show up and throw up” method of old sales reps.
3. Engage your audience and seek their participation. (Ask for feedback, be it a phone call, online survey or employee brainstorm)
4. Be real, authentic and listen. (Reviews, customer feedback, referral sources and bad reviews)
5. Be there. Show up and be responsible. (Listen online and respond. Listen to your competitors reviews and provide an alternative).
What is your physical identity for your business?
Letterhead, logo, website, photo of your signage. Are they all telling the same story? Do they represent the values of your small business? Are you giving mixed messages?
Is the tone right? What needs to change. What people see is what they think they are going to get?
How are you different?
- Do you make house calls as a vet?
- Do you offer services that your competitors don’t?
- Do you have a different pricing model?
- Do you package your service in a unique way?
Having a branding positioning statement should answer a few questions: Who are you, what makes you special and what unique value or benefits do you deliver for your customers?