It feels good to say you’ve started your own business, doesn’t it? It’s both empowering and humbling. Being an Entrepreneur is great- when things work. Yet many Entrepreneurs never make it out of Start-Up. Why? There are many reasons for this limbo in Start-Up, but in many cases the largest reason for this is that the Entrepreneur has forgotten to build a brand for their company.
What is a Brand?
Often, hearing the word ‘Brand’ conjures up images of familiar logos, company names or even colours associated with these names. But a company Brand is more than this. Your company brand is the most powerful statement of what it is that your company delivers.
This statement should carry over all the other messages, it should resonate with your customer and it should, in time, pave the way for all your other marketing activities.
Imagine yourself as the Entrepreneur playing the character of Adam Sandler in the movie ’50 First Dates’. In this movie Lucy, played by Drew Barrymore, has short term memory loss, she cannot remember what has happened the day before, so every day Henry, played by Adam Sandler, needs to remind her and woo her all over again. He does this, every single day. You as the entrepreneur, will need to do this with your customer as well. You will need to remind them of your brand, and what your brand stands for, every single day.
Even if you have established your brand, you will need to continue to do this with existing and prospective customers at every single opportunity. You may not be declaring your love to your customer, but you will be telling your customer how your value proposition will change and better their lives, and tomorrow, you will do it all over again. And you will do this for as long as your company is in existence.
Another word for this declaration is your brand promise. Your brand promise is the outcome that the customer will expect when using your product or service. When designing your brand promise you must think about how your brand promise is different from that of your competitors. It is a relationship of trust that you establish with your customer. This relationship goes beyond the sales’ relationship. It says, we as a company have got your back in this area.
When many entrepreneurs are asked the question ‘what makes them different?’, their answers include the expected answers of quality or on-time delivery. However, these statements are often nebulous and are not backed up by figures. Can you show us what level of quality you have? How do you know your products are quality products? In an age when quality is expected from everyone this statement means nothing.
Thinking through how your brand promise is different from that of your customer is called your positioning strategy. Your brand promise positions you in the market and makes you different from your competitors. Let’s think about Apple, what made them different. The next video by Steve Jobs will give us some insight into this.
Let’s turn our attention to the fast food industry for a moment. What makes one chicken fast food chain different from another? If we compare Chicken Licken, KFC, Nando’s and Chesa Njama with each other, each one of these fast food chains serve chicken. Could we really say that one is more innovative than the other with the product that they serve? Possibly, but that is not going to make someone who loves Nandos walk into Chesa Njama. Rather, each of these brands is positioned uniquely in the market.
As we look at some of the following examples of how companies positioned themselves from their competitors, keep in mind that this does not just happen, but that the company did this intentionally over a long period of time. Let’s take a look at one relatively boring type of product, car tyres. To see what made Michelin different from other car tyres have a look at the following article: http://www.aaronwjohnston.com/michelin-the-protector-brand-becomes-the-hero-brand/.
Michelin could have told you that their quality is better, but this would mean nothing. Rather in the early years they indicated that the safety of your family depends on you buying the right tyre. Now that makes you think, it makes you wonder if you should be buying a better tyre? But today, when all tyre companies are saying the same thing, it might not be relevant any more.
Once you have thought through how you want to position your brand you now want to think about how you are going to communicate this to your customer. This has a lot to do with the places you will find your customer hanging out. Will they hang out online, in Facebook chatrooms, will they hang out in front of the Television or will they hang out with the Newspaper on a Monday morning? Knowing your customer helps you to know where they hang out, but getting in front of them is going to require some money, so you will also need to think through your budget. Your marketing budget will determine some of the options you have to get to deliver the brand promise to your customer.
A great, though unexpected, example of a company delivering a brand promise is a spaza shop. Every day as you walk past the spaza shop it tells you something. It might tell you that it’s open for business, it might tell you that you pass it daily, it expresses convenience, but it also tells you that it has what you need and that when everything else is closed or unavailable, it will be there. The local spaza shop might be one of the best examples of a brand promise, without it even trying too hard. Put three spaza shops around it though, and that brand promise disappears. Suddenly they need to change their positioning strategy.
What is the promise that you will give to your customer. What commitment will you make to them. And when they buy you and your services, what will they really be buying?