It's common for business owners to look outside for the essence of their brands: to their peers, to their customers, to the marketplace. After all, modeling others is a good way to be successful, right? Not necessarily, as Danielle Rogers wrote in this blog excerpt: "Suddenly I realized that the key to my brand's essence is not out there at all; it's in here, in me. therefore separate from me. I was trying to find the essence of my brand in other people. It sounds simple enough, does not it? But for many companies, this simple truth remains elusive as they continue to search for the branding Holy Grail, out there in the marketplace. Danielle is not alone in how she went about her search for meaning. But what should you do once you come to the realization that your brand depends more on you than on on outside influences? You will need to dig deep.
Here's a simple process anyone can do to learn more about the essence of their brand. Make a list of descriptive terms that describe how you think your company is currently perceived by your clients and your industry. Take your time, list as many as you can think of, and be honest – list positive and negative perceptions. Use the words "professional", "caring", "accurate", "expensive," "out of date," "old school," "cool," "expert," "integrity, "" best in class, "" friendly, "and" inexperienced. " Make sure you cover everything. Ask other people in your company to add to the list. Ask vendors and clients (ones who will give you an honest assessment) if you've covered everything.
Then make a second list with terms describing how you'd like your company to be perceived by your clients and your industry. Again, take your time. Some of these terms will be the same as the ones on the first list, and some will drop off. Be honest, and be slightly ambitious, reach a bit – you may think of some descriptions that do not fit you quite yet, but that you'd like to work towards, go ahead and put them on your list. Now compare your lists. Study them. You can see where there's work to be done. You will be able to see the negatives that are holding your brand back – do your best to dispel them as quickly as you can! Separate these negatives and post them where you can see them with the headline "Negatives to dispel" or "Things we are not" to remind you to shake these negatives.
Right now, they're part of your brand essence. You may need to smile more or communicate better or even change your strategy, but it will be worth it to get these monkeys off of your back. Now look at the positives, especially the positives that show up on both lists. These descriptions will give valuable hints to your brand essence – your brand character and your brand personality. They describe not only what you want your company to be, but what your company most likely already is. Cull this list to the best of the best, to five or six descriptions that are the most important to you. Separate these descriptions and post them with the headline "Our brand essence" or "Things we are" to remind you to always think, speak, and act in these ways. Over time, you can tweak these descriptions a bit, but most likely you'll find that by beginning to take them on consciously, you really do own them, and they'll become more conscious parts of your authentic brand.