Ask yourself this question: why does most of the population own an article of clothing with the Nike "Swoosh" on it? Is the T-Shirt any better than one without the logo? Why did someone pay four times more for that shirt than the non-logo shirt next to it on the rack? The answer, of course, is that the Nike Brand represents an image that the person wearing that garment wants to project onto himself and is willing to pay a premium to do so.
Another question: Do you think Anheuser Busch expects you to buy a Budweiser just because you saw a billboard with a team of Clydesdales on it? No. They do, however, want to impress a wholesome, family friendly image into your mind so that when you think beer, you think of and desire to associate yourself with the Budweiser brand rather than Miller, Heineken or any other brand.
Does McDonald's make the best cheeseburger you've ever tasted? Then why do you continue to eat there?
Did you shave this morning with a Gillette razor?
These are some of America's best known brands. When it comes down to it, these companies are better at advertising than anyone on the planet. Consumers want to associate with these companies; they want to purchase their products, and people will gladly pay more for these products that are, in many ways, inferior to their competition.
Does your small business have a brand?
Think about this for a minute – what image does your company project to the community at large? Are you creating a brand that your customers will want to associate with? If you want to successfully grow your business then you must start with your core values and start building a brand based upon the image you want your business to project.
Step one for building a brand:
Write down what you would like to be written on your tombstone.
The feeling that you got while thinking about this is your core inspiration, it defines who you are and what you stand for. It defines what you would like to be remembered for. This Is Your Internal Brand.
Do you project this everyday? Do not fight who you are or who you want to be; build your business around your internal brand and everything else will fall into place. Running your business based upon core principles means you never have to make excuses or think about what the right answer should be, you already know the answers. It also clarifies what you want to project to the community and to prospective customers.
It's important to remember, there is no "right answer" to these questions, your business must match your personality and what you believe in. Here's an example: The owner of the finest restaurant in your town loves running that restaurant. He loves getting dressed up in a tuxedo every night, he loves comparing wines to one another and he loves catering to demanding customers. The restaurant reflects his personality and what he believes in. The owner of the local burger joint loves running that restaurant. He loves wearing blue jeans to work, he loves having nights off to spend with his family and he loves telling stories about how many customers he can serve in one day. His restaurant also reflects his personality and what he believes in. Both owners make a good living and enjoy what they do, but they could NEVER run each other's restaurants, the internal brands of the people running them are just too different.
Step two for building a brand:
Write down what you would like to be written on your business's tombstone.
That's your guiding principle, your company's internal brand. Everything you do from now on should focus on building your company's external brand to match the internal brand.
But before you start advertising or marketing, focus first on your employees, facilities, equipment, policies, procedures and merchandise. Good advertising and marketing can make the phone ring one time, but if a customer expects Tiffany's and gets Wal-Mart, or vice versa, they will not buy from you and you have wasted your advertising dollars. Does your business reflect who you are? Are your employees' appearances and clothing what you would like them to be? Are your facilities and vehicles designed to project the brand image? Do you have a cohesive brand image for your company that includes marketing materials, signage, logo's and business cards?
Only when your internal image projects what you believe in should you try to sell it. Concentrate on this first and we will tackle step two in our next article.