The best thing about growing your business in a recession is the confidence it gives you when facing other challenges. Before we get to brand guidelines its important to check in, because expectations can radically affect outcomes and misery loves company. If the word on the street is that a recession is coming or that a recession is here, then the chances are that most people are buying into to it and are expecting a down turn. So adopt an attitude of letting the ‘others’ have their downturn and turn your attention to growth and sales success.
Because, no matter what the circumstances, there are masses of people simply waiting to do business with you when they are so inspired. This means the power is in your hands. You are empowered: you have to understand how to inspire your market and act on it. This therefore is the time to focus on your brand identity and then use your branding effort to energize your market to choose you.
It’s important then, to understand the distinction between branding and brand identity: Branding is your business card, brochure and the packaging for any product you may sell. Branding is your web site and any video you use to promote your message. It’s your marketing campaign and any advertizing you do. It’s your PR and any promotion you do. In short, branding is anything you do in order to get a response from your market.
Many companies are involved in branding yet most (85%) go from business idea, product or service directly to their branding effort without considering their brand identity and that’s why most of the branding you see is crappy. That’s why most branding does not inspire and why there are garages all across America filled with crappy brochures that don’t get sales and why the Internet is filled with web sites that underperform. In fact, nearly everywhere we look we can find examples of businesses that engage in crappy branding, because they don’t have a well defined, may we say kick-ass brand identity. This is why so many businesses do not grow during recessions – because by not inspiring their market, they are simply occupying a space and acting as just another vendor. Do not be one of those boring, ‘also-ran’ businesses.
Brand identity is who you are in the market place; it’s what positions and differentiates you and when built well it’s what you use to inspire your market too. Your biggest competitors are not the other players in your industry; they are indifference toward you or ignorance of you in your market. Therefore your biggest competitor is you.
There are three key elements that contribute to a kick-ass brand identity and your ability to inspire your market:
1. Your VALUE must be clearly demonstrated. Value does not mean cheapest, it means that your market perceives an advantage to doing business with you beyond price. What are the benefits of doing business with you or of using your product or service? What added values do you provide?
2. Your POSITIONING must be specific. Positioning is your friend: just as a crocodile might position itself carefully at the waters edge ready to pounce on its prey, or a gas station might position itself at a busy intersection to attract passing traffic your positioning is vital to your survival. Positioning is not just about geography; it’s about your place in the mindset of the market. In order to be well positioned you must know your market well. What do you love about your market? What do you know about your market that others do not? What truly frustrates your market? What activates your market? The more clearly you can demonstrate how well you know your market, the better positioned you will be to attract them. Successful positioning therefore depends on your ability to engage your market in a conversation that is of meaning to them.
3. Your DIFFERENTIATION must be unique. The more similar you are to others who do what you do the more your price is dictated by the market place and the less control you have over your destiny. Differentiation therefore is vital. Just like it sounds, differentiation is about what makes you different, unique and easier to choose. Your goal is to be uniquely differentiated so that you are hard to compare to others – in a good way. So ask yourself these questions: What makes you different? What makes you better than the rest? What is the unique flavor of doing business with your company, such as your attitude or values? What experience do customers get with you that they don’t get elsewhere – and what is so great about that? What is the call to action you present to your market?
HOW TO SPOT A KICK-ASS BRAND IDENTITY:
1. It’s hard to compare to others
2. It has a unique, authentic presence
3. It’s easy to share, discuss and talk about
4. It has a meaning, message or idea that inspires
5. It’s easy to recognize
6. It’s consistent every time you meet it
7. It represents a promise and keeps it
There are man ways to differentiate, what is vital is that you have a truly authentic presence in the market place. The better differentiated you are the harder it is to compare you to others which means you do have control over your destiny and can become a market leader.
Brand identity is your key to prospering during a recession; it is also how you ensure you get paid what you deserve instead of what the market dictates. So don’t just focus on branding, be certain to build yourself a kick-ass brand identity.
David Tyreman is a best-selling author, a charismatic public speaker and experienced teacher. He has helped differentiate and develop brand identity for some of the best-known companies in the world, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike, Banana Republic and Disney as well as for thousands of entrepreneurial small businesses. He has also been featured on CNN, the Wall Street Journal and many other TV shows, magazines and newspapers.
His new book WORLD FAMOUS: How to Give Your Business a Kick-Ass Brand Identity was released in May and his transformational brand identity program ‘Your Business Deserves to be World Famous’ guides participants through the exciting process of building an authentic and kick-ass brand identity with hands-on guidance from David’s experts.